Henry waited with bated patience, anticipating the worst. As soon as the dealer flipped his card, a blur of red with yellow streaks on both ends, Henry knew. He felt his body drain, beginning in his eyes, down the pit of his belly, and empty under his stool. “I’m sorry, sir.” The dealer offered, his eyes wincing at Henry’s misfortune. A young guy, no older than 22, celebrated a $20 win next to him. Even though Henry’d braced for the loss, everything was fast becoming too much to take on at once. With all he had, his arms and fists filled and pumping with blood and adrenaline, Henry pushed himself off the blackjack stool, nodded to the dealer, and began the long walk to his room. His eye twitched the entire way to the elevator, a much faster walk than when he envisioned big wins. Inside, Henry’s face twisted but only let out a heavy exhale. He exited in a trance, walked down the hall eyed-closed, opening just in time to turn left, numb, staring down the long hall where carpet meets wall, on the right—room 606, push in the card, walk in past the light switch, and braced himself for the automatic door’s hard-shut. Henry sat on the dressed bed in the dark, stared for a moment at nothing until flecks of white appeared in his vision, then wept with his head in his hands.
“That’s it.” He finalized. “That’s everything. There it goes.” He dragged himself down, rifling through a life unavailable to him: his place: couldn’t go back there—got driven out when the cops showed up. No friends, didn’t know anybody—well, not well enough to ask to stay a couple nights…weeks, who knows. Never married, never cared for, wouldn’t ever be remembered. Or at most it wouldn’t go anything beyond something like “Whatever happened to Henry?” Whoever’s talking’d agree, after a reflective second, that they hadn’t heard his name in years and carry on to the next thing, Henry was sure of it. He glanced at the nightstand—even in the dark he could make out that shape. There was a contingency plan. He had planned his endgame.
Henry turned on the light. On a floral-print sofa positioned before an unspectacular view of the next hotel rested a manila envelope. He spilled its contents on the bed and picked up a note he had written in English and Spanish, to accommodate for the cleaning ladies
DO NOT ENTER NO ENTRAR
DEAD BODY INSIDE CADÁVER DENTRO
He opened 606’s door, peeked down the hallway, and hung the sign, gently closing it behind him. An envelope to his mother, one to his father, and a note to the management for release were spread across the bed, explaining why he felt this was his final solution—in the case of the management, to state that his actions did not directly reflect any occurrence on their property or their services. He picked up the gun studying it with fascination. “It all comes down to this.” Henry said as though anybody were listening at all. He felt slightly ashamed that he had spoken out loud. “What was there left to say? Nothing matters anymore.” He reminded himself.
Blood and adrenaline coursed through his whole body, his temples throbbed causing his eyes to vibrate at first, his sight to blur. His left eye twitched, his breathing picked up as the cool metal settled against his temple. Ringing filled his ears, piercing whatever was left of his shattered soul. It felt as if Henry were already lifted from his body and he felt himself floating just above his triggered finger and skull. “Filth. You’re done. Game over. Do it.” There was no conscious afterlife, Henry was sure; he’d just float around space as a thoughtless glob of matter, aimless in eternal darkness forever—a soothing thought. The first in a while. It calmed him, just for a moment, before he closed his eyes, then opened them again—and finally, pulled the trigger.
About 5 hours later, the cleaning crew made their way up to the sixth floor. “что это?”¹ Olga held up the sign on room 606. “Я не понима́ю.”² Svetlana replied, “открыть эту чертову дверь, Я хочу́ есть!”³ So Olga did, tossing the sign into a garbage can tied to her cleaning trolley and stumbling into the gory scene.
And that’s why you never hire Russian temp workers as cleaners in your hotel, or really any business you own/operate. These women are going to need therapy, they’re going to quit. All because they didn’t have the curtesy to learn the language and understand a simple sign! Henry planned the end of his life—that’s a lot going on for a guy—and still had the good-sensibilities to include a second-language caution. Temp Russian workers have an extremely loose grip on the language; they work hard but don’t understand Western signage and symbols. They come for a season and return to the motherland in the fall—they’re probably spies, anyway. Probably celebrating the death of another free American—a victory for their fascist, Marxist, mother Russia. You’d be much better off hiring your Hispanic staff full-time; it’d cost less than this catastrophe, and they can read a sign. Plus you don’t have to deal with their condescending attitudes, their secret Soviet giggles, or their chain-smoking. Let this serve as a warning for all your current or future business endeavors. Remember: just say “Nyet!” to temporary Russian workers: bad for your business, and bad for the U.S.A.
¹ “What is it?”
² “I don’t understand.”
³ “Open the damn door, I’m hungry!”