Art and Arnold

The Hotel

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This is, this is a building, a space, a hotel. It sits at the end of a gravel road, outside of town, off an Interstate, in the middle of the country. No, wait, it sits at the end of a gravel road, out in the woods, overlooking a beautiful valley, full of pines. No, wait, it sits at the end of a gravel road, on the edge of the ocean, looking out toward the blue horizon. No, wait.

This is a building, a space, a hotel made of words. It sits where it sits, in a manufactured space, which you visit in the time it takes you to read.

Welcome, you look tired. I know that road is long.

Please, come in. Here, let me get your bags.

We have some rooms open.

 

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Room 41

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There is a vacancy in room number 41. I can let you have it, if you pay. Let me tell you about 41. The neon lights that shine in the window will not bother you after 11 pm. The radio you hear stops at midnight. Take the room. We used to hear ghosts in there, but not anymore. The sink is rusted, and the pipes sputter, but the water is warm. Five children lived there once, two took flight to soon, two danced in the halls, and one ran away. Did you read about it in the paper? The crack in the bathtub is not that bad and the brown carpet and brown curtains glow in the light of late night T.V. If you close your eyes and press your ears against the pillows you can hear the waves only 5 blocks away. The mattress is soft and the sheets are clean. Just ignore the smell of stale cigars; the ashtray is just for show now. You look tired, here’s the key, ring 9 if your need anything, we never sleep.

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Room 15

We don’t go in there anymore. Human hair still covers the sink and burn marks still stain the walls. The last people in there never came out. The T.V. is smashed and on the floor and the bed is tossed and the sheets stained. Mind the light bulb that hangs from the ceiling. It still flickers even though we cut off electricity years ago. There are mustard stains on the dresser from a half-eaten corn dog that rots on the floor. Someone once told me that they heard screaming from inside. A man was beating a woman into submission. But its his blood that stains the tub. That cracked mirror by the closet was never replaced and the smell of bleach cannot be removed. We keep room 15 closed.

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Room 20

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This room is our only suite. But we don’t charge extra for it. You’ll find that everything is in working order. It’s a quiet room, the doors open to a private garden with palms and sandy pathways leading into the woods. Butterflies fly in during the day and lightening bugs at night. The private dining table is set, matches ready to light those white candles you see. And an un-opened bottle of tonic water still sits in its silver cooler, swimming in melted ice. The clock needs winding, stopped at 6:17 and the T.V. was never plugged in. The bed clothes were never tossed and the towels still hang folded on the rack. The blue marble sitting on the custom porcelain sink was left by the previous occupants. We don’t know much about them except they collected birds and magazine clippings. This room was made ready, but never used. It’s still waiting. We’ve let dust collect on the floral design gray and black marble floor. Look, you can see someone’s footprints; it looks like they were dancing barefoot.

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Room 31

Being isolated from the main building most guests assume it’s our bungalow. But that’s not the case at all. Being built by the manager himself, this room is preferred by fellow recluses, hermits, and solitary migratory birds that still fly the dark gravel roads east of town carrying their belongings over their shoulder. Instead of T.V. you can see we put in a bookshelf filled with empty journals, note the pens and pencils on the desk. We won’t charge if you use them and of course feel free to take some of them when you check out. Don’t be fooled by the cot in the corner either. It’s extremely comfortable even though it’s only designed for one. The bathroom has no tub, and is small but very usable. I’ve been told that the shower smells like hibiscus. A playwright lived here once for a month. That typewriter is hers. The box of paper in the closet fits the spool perfectly. If you stay here, you should try to use it. I’ll send some ice and food over around 6.

 

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Room 3

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There is always a storm blowing outside the window, rain pounding on the panes, but the roof has never leaked. That hardwood floor you’re standing on was almost replaced by carpet before we stopped it. Luckily we found a nice old man who could patch the cracks. We apologize for there only being one bed. I’m sure you can share it. However, we have a large foam pad we’ll bring down before 8. A boat builder stayed here once, those African masks hanging on the walls were his. He said he acquired them when he was running spices from Africa to Spain. There are still some clothes of his hanging over the steel tub drying. They never dry. Just move them aside as you need to, but please put them back when you’re done. We never know when he may return.

 

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Room 22

Room 22 is at the end of the north wing up the stairs by the exit sign. We need to fix that arrow by the way; we know it points down instead of out. It’s an odd room, and we don’t know if you want to stay there. It’s really up to you. We have other rooms available. The ceiling and floor are mirrored so you see yourself stretching into the sky and into the ground simultaneously. A previous occupant tried to count the number of reflections she saw. The cleaning crew says she vanished into the walls and you can hear her counting past 2 AM. Also, if you look at the reflections, the room changes in each one. That chair for example, see how it turns from red to green to yellow? We stay the same, sure, but the room has a life of its own it seems. The T.V. is like this to. That black bar that splits the screen in half has never gone away no matter how many people we have look at it. You see how the screen shows neighboring channels at the same time? Look, it’s tuned to channel 33, but you can also see channel 34 there along the bottom. Here, let us show you another room, this one is hard to get out of once you check in.

 

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Room 10

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A massive cavernous room with expansive windows and a clerestory lining the base of the vaulted ceiling. At night, moonlight floods in turning everything a cold silver interrupted by shadows. All of the furniture folds out from the wall or floor. So while the room looks completely bare, it can be arranged to be any room you want. We promise there is King sized bed in here somewhere. Now which switch is it again? To be honest, we were never sure as to the intent of this room. It was not part of the original hotel plans and while we have made several revisions over the years, this room is never noted on any set of blueprints. One of the problems with the hotel is that we are not the only architects. Some of the time, the guests manage to build their own rooms and slip them in among the others, never letting us know. Oh, look, here’s the switch for the bed. Please ring 3 if you need anything else.

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Room 4

This was a painter’s studio originally. Many of his belongs still litter the floor: old cereal boxes, acrylic paint tubes, and dry brushes to name a few. That’s his radio. If you hit play on the CD deck you can get a taste for his style in music. He was a big fan of R.E.M. The warmth you feel isn’t coming from the heater that shutters in the corner. It’s his ghost that lingers here, but don’t be scared. He was one of the nicest guests we have ever had, and he would welcome you here with open arms and a fresh meal strong with garlic. At night, past 2 A.M., you can hear his laugh as a cell phone beeps in his trouser pocket. The bed is large, as is the tub and I promise you will sleep well. If you look at the walls you can see where he had pinned up studies of his next work. We have one in the lobby if you are interested. He left us far to soon, but this room, his room, will always remain. Its concrete walls, covered in warm red paint keep other occupants safe and secure in his absence. Please, take the room; he would have wanted you to enjoy it. That was his greatest gift: his kindness.

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Room 8

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Is closed for renovations. Pardon the drop cloths and plastic hanging from blue tape in the doorway. The room is always very drafty. Wind rips through the seams in the walls whistling and moaning, blowing out the candles that are used in the absence of electricity. The architects told us once that they never intended on finishing it; that it belonged ‘half-constructed’. This room isn’t really for us anyway. It’s an amorphous collaboration between the builders, sitting as a sign of a dialogue between people that you and I cannot understand. Trees grow up through the floor between the half-finished chair and bed. Stacks of boxes, now overgrown with vines, are stacked along the far wall. The bathroom is even more of a mess. Multiple tubs, faucets, and toilets all leek, turning on and off at random. At night, moonlight bathes the back half of the room until morning sun chases it away, and the walls swell and contract when rain water covers them during the wet season. Oh yes, about those Christmas lights, the architects were not without a sense of humor.

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Room 2

Every guest says they’ve stayed here before. There’s something about the design of the wall paper, or the familiar smell of lilacs in the bathroom that makes them pause. I see you feel the same way. Be careful though. This room is deceptive. The familiar T.V. shows you’ll find on channel 8 are actually quite new, and the pattern of the bathroom tile is not as predictable as you think. I always smile at this a little bit. How can someone actually think they have been here before? The single bed with the soft mattress of course reminds you of the one in your grandparent’s attic. But then again, their house burned down years ago. Familiar for sure, but room 2 is not the same; and in its ability to mislead, many guests find it uncomfortable after only a few nights. If you want it, you can take it, but it’s not the room you think, or want it to be. Just remember, you can hear the laughter of 5 children if your press your ear against the north wall, but they never stayed here. Here’s the key.

 

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Room 67

Mind the green carpet and steep steps that lead to the stone landing with the bed on it. Often lost in the patchwork of doors and hallways, this room is rarely occupied. But, in actuality, it’s very easy to find if you go looking for it in the right crowd and with the right frame of mind. The fruit plant in the corner is not a fraud. Please feel free to help yourself as it is in season, and the bar is stocked with complimentary Jameson Whiskey and wine. However, we do apologize for the crude graffiti scribbled over the bathroom walls above the tub. We’ve tried several times to clean it, but to no avail. However, that sticker with the Italian written on it is a different case. Apparently two guests found this room once and one of them returned a few weeks later a stuck it there, just above the sink. All we know is their return is unlikely.

 

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Room 17

Is a dark room. One chair sits in the middle facing the far wall. There are no windows, only an air vent in the ceiling. There is no sink, no bed, no T.V. and no phone. The only light comes from the flickering images that are projected on the walls. If you stay here, they say you will become suspicious of memories, actions, time and body language. But remember, it’s only your projections onto the projections that make those fictions real.

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Room 7

Was vacated in the early hours of this morning. As the sun broke the horizon, three guests left quietly, looking haggard and worn, but smiling, as if they were keeping a secret. Last night we heard sounds coming from the room, strange sounds: laughing and crying. Now, the needle of the record player is stuck repeating the same words from a rock song over and over. The light bulbs have shattered, spreading glass and filament across the room, and covering the floor between the trash, hide cigarette burns and blue stains of some kind. The mattress propped up against the window blocks out the morning light. The smell that thickens the air, attracting flies, is sweat, smoke, and cheap gin. The sink, overflowing, spills water across the blue tiles of the bathroom, and the tub is piled full with bed clothes and pillows. It looks like the guests played tic-tac-toe on the mirror with red lipstick. We will need to close this room for a while, and try to forget it. Already ghosts are appearing in the floral design wallpaper and I can hear the sound of a phone ringing somewhere within. Here, let me take your bags, we have other rooms down the hall.

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Room 38, or 26

Is a room you return to, but you’ve never set foot in it before. It’s familiar, but only in the corners. 3 curtains, 1 window (that you are drawn to), tic-tac-toe on the mirror, its all been seen by you, but not by you prior to the digital clock reading late afternoon. It’s a room you return to, but you’ve never set foot in it before. It is our un-room then, being by not being a room. A room: you can re-arrange, push the chair there, the bed here, open and close the window, and run the water for as long as you want. This room you can’t change, let alone re-arrange. It’s not intended to be, at least not by us. You see, rooms are built by what occurs in them. This room is built by everything that did not happen in it; that cannot enter it, because if the outside ever came in, this room would cease to be. Things of normal construction cannot happen here because that would put it in our space. This room is not our space. It is what gives us our space by being. It’s a room you return to, but you’ve never set foot in it before. Somewhere, the architects are still building, but only in secret, and they are smiling at us, knowing we can never use this room.

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The Hotel is closed.

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Posted 26th November 2014 by Arnold, H.C.

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