by charles dodd
2002 Storycove Flash Fiction Award
were a young couple to make heads turn: tall, extrovert, with perfect
teeth that glinted as they talked. She sported a mink coat-possibly
a good fake fur-with a huge collar.
The coat clung tenaciously to her body, conveying the disconcerting
impression that she wore nothing underneath. It came to mid-calf,
and below it shapely nylon-clad ankles accompanied classic, court
shoes with heels so high one had to give her credit for not tottering.
She certainly did not totter. She shimmied.
He wore a black cape with a deep blue silk lining, a waistcoat in
vivid blues and greens, tailored pants, and Gucci shoes. They looked
good and they knew it. At the hotel's lobby desk they received immediate
"We're looking for a double room. One with a view." There
was a hint of the aristocrat about the man's voice. He was clearly
accustomed to getting what he wanted, and he was British.
"Certainly, sir. For how many nights?"
"Two. But we have to see the room."
A porter led the way to the second floor. The couple stood in the
doorway, scanning the room, seemingly undecided. The man said, "Just
leave us alone for a moment, so we can discuss it, would you?"
Ten minutes later one of the lobby clerks inquired, "So what's
happened to the wannabe Hugh Grant and Liz Hurley?"
The porter's mouth sagged, and he scurried back to the room. The
door was locked, and rapping on it, at first gently and then loudly,
elicited no response. He hammered on the door so that it rattled
in its frame but without success. He had the niggling suspicion
that he could hear muffled giggles.
He went down to reception for the master key, raising his eyes to
the heavens in reply to a colleague's questioning look.
This time the door was open, with the man waiting to usher him in.
The woman was lying face upwards on the bed, and she was showing
a generous expanse of leg, including stocking tops and a hint of
white thighs beyond.
The man was keen to explain, declaiming in a voice that brooked
no contradiction: "Fainted. But she's coming round."
The porter tore his eyes away reluctantly from the shapely legs
and suggested, "A glass of water perhaps?"
But the Elizabeth Hurley look-alike suddenly sat up, shaking her
head and saying, "No, no. I'm fine now, really."
She stood up, and the disheveled state of the bed became apparent.
She had not fainted. She could just conceivably have had a violent,
limb-threshing seizure, but there was a more likely explanation.
Did they want the room? No, it didn't seem to agree with her, and
the hotel obviously had builders working there because she had heard
dreadful hammering noises.
With sunny smiles for the porter, they left arm in arm. The porter
stood at the hotel entrance, watching them go, and the sound of
their laughter drifted back to him as they strutted-almost skipped-up