I was driving at about sixty.

The caffeine in my system was probably wearing out, I felt the muscles of my arms ache. Driving on a rainy day on a highway where nothing plied but for drunk, worn out truck drivers and cheap hookers was not exactly my idea of a joyride. The horrible moaning of a radiohead song playing on my radio made me want to kill myself. I switched off the radio. Looking out of my car window for hotels or inns I could spend the night in, I saw a large neon hoarding with a non cowboy pointing at it. It read, "HOTEL SURREAL we promise your stay here will be surreal" in callous, shiny red letters." I drove into the hotel, not wanting to be caught asleep while driving. The hotel was one of those snazzy but cheap experiences that reminded you of pee in a champagne bottle. There were a few cars parked outside the hotel. I carelessly parked my Cadillac between two other fuel guzzling monsters. My suit felt a hundred kilos heavier; I took it off and entered the hotel. The lobby of the hotel was painted an overwhelming dark crimson, a striking contrast to the cheap blue sofas that were lined up without any aesthetic sense. The large lobby was empty but for a receptionist dressed in a purple dress with flowing, obviously artificial, blonde hair. I cautiously walked up to her fearing (somewhat wishing) she might be a pornographic actress waiting to take me to her secret lair downstairs. "Good evening, welcome to Hotel Surreal, we promise your stay here will be surreal." "I'd like a room, overnight." She looked at me and smiled a large toothy grin stained with dark red lipstick, as though the Cheshire cat were also a vampire. "Certainly sir, please sign here and I'll call the bellboy. Andre!" A small muscular man with a very noticeable paunch came in and looked around for my luggage, he saw none but for the small Delsey I was gripping tightly. He smiled and said, "Let me show

you your room." As we went up the drudgingly slow elevator I looked at the key handed to me by the receptionist. The thing that was surprising about it was that it was a loose key, it had nothing attached to it, no keychain, nothing. I asked the bellboy why my room had a loose key. He once again smiled and said in a very accented but raspy voice, “You are a special guest sir. Not everyone gets the loose key. You are a very lucky man." Before I could ask him what was unique about the loose key and the room it unlocked the elevator door opened with the ubiquitous 'Ding' sound. Not really wanting to converse with the accented, stocky man who apparently would make a very good Don Corleone double I let him lead me to my room, room number 309. He led me into a small room, thankfully painted white. I generously tipped the Godfather five dollars and put my briefcase down. It was a small room, with a bed with off-white covers, a small T.V. and air conditioning that I was sure wouldn’t work. I sat on the bed; a firm mattress thankfully welcomed me like chocolate milkshake on a warm summer day. I got up to pee and went into the bathroom, very conventional but for the presence of a very large mirror just by the entrance. I took a leak and flushed. I walked out when suddenly a voice came out from the bathroom, "Wash your hands.". It sounded a lot like my mother's. Walking back, almost expecting my mother in there, I saw nobody. I opened the tap and washed my hands vigorously, even applying the horrible liquid soap they generally offered in such places. Liquid soap, what next solid shampoo, gassy moisturizers. I looked at the giant mirror and admired the shirt I was wearing. A lovely, shiny and frothy blue, a very touchable shirt. I saw my scalp in the mirror. There were patches of skin appearing on my otherwise lustrous mane, little islands of scalp on the front of my head. My hair was falling into the white sink, follicles of thick rough hair snowing onto a very visible white field. I put my hands on my head

to stop the very accelerated balding process. I loved my hair; I loved it more than my life. Seconds later I saw my entire mane gone but for thin strands of hair hanging on at the back. The sink was filled with hair, hair that once shone brightly on my trapezoidal forehead. I turned away for a moment to look at the shower that I thought was laughing at me while this was happening. I looked back at the mirror and saw all my hair back on my head.. The sink was the same plain white it was. I heaved a sigh of relief. The caffeine was probably getting to me. I needed something to eat, a light dinner would set things straight perhaps. The moment that had just gone by was my worst nightmare coming true. I sat on my bed and switched on the T.V.. Indulging in late night T.V. is easily the most self depreciating of all acts. The kind of excretement they pass off as television late in the night is the stuff weed induced hallucinations are made up off. A music channel showing a black man dressed in over the top bling, a late night talk show host poking fun at an Islamic country and seeing a bunch of Europeans running around kicking a ball were perhaps the worst things that happened to me in the past forty eight hours, not a boring pharmaceutical convention and the abysmal high tea that followed it, the worst was plain bad T.V. While switching channels channel number eighteen suddenly caught my eye. It showed a little boy who happened to look a lot like me running around stark naked in what happened to be my primary school ground. I was on the jungle gym, the slides and the swings but none of my appropriately dressed friends happened to take notice of the fact that my nubile genitals were being pompously flaunted. The worst part was I was seeing myself as a child, naked, and still not the slightest feeling of shame did occur to me. I wanted the boy to run, play and cherish the moments of utter boyhood he was experiencing, nudity being nothing but a major plus. I wanted the boy not to care if fat Alfred thought he

was too skinny or if little Phil thought his skin was too freckled. I changed the channel, just to see if it would come back, it didn’t, channel eighteen continued its featured broadcast of the birthday extravaganza of some leggy sixteen year old. I decided to call up for room service. I called up room service and ordered a salad. A salad in my opinion is the worst food dish ever invented, a bunch of shabbily cut vegetables tossed around and served in a large bowl seemed like a joke on the intelligence of both the chef and the client. I prayed to god that the company dietician would die of syphilis and lay down on the lovely, firm mattress the hotel had to afford, almost praying the gleefully tossed around bunch of uncooked vegetables never arrived. There was a copy of the TIME magazine on a little glass table by my bed. I reached over and pulled it, glancing at the cover. Some horrible news about the end of the world thanks to global warming and Al Gore being the savior the world looked for. A fat guy who flew a private jet and spoke in large air conditioned auditoriums preaching conservation and other environment bullshit was not exactly a very selling idea to me. I opened the magazine and saw in it pictures of me. Me driving a large convertible, my running bathroom tap, the electric bulbs that shine for all eternity in my apartment, the power hungry split air conditioner that ran when the windows were open was like seeing the sports illustrated of unethical contributions to the environment. Suddenly the ice box of the tiny refrigerator in the room opened and the tray flew right out of it onto my bed. The ice in it started melting and almost as suddenly, the water from that wetted the entire bed. I looked at the magazine and saw Al Gore winking at me and slyly grinning as he said," I told you so." First my hair, then the T.V. and now Al Gore, that place was a godforsaken hellhole. I wondered what the bellboy meant when he said i was very lucky to get the key to this room. Weird place, even weirder people but I was not one who would chicken out of a

hotel room just because of some exhaustion induced hallucinations. It was not that the room was haunted or anything, such rooms are generally numbered 13 or 666 not 309, I needed food (salad really!) and decided to just wait till room service knocked on my door. A little radio alarm lay on the table beside me. I hesitated to pick it up lest my fagged out mind play ed any more tricks on me. The rock station played the rolling stones, the pop station played a stoned Amy Winehouse and the country station played Faith Hill. A station cropped up between country and oldies and the instrumental sounds of a piano filled the room. It was Bach's eighteenth ,my mother's favorite piece. A classic which she never got tired listening to. As I heard the resounding notes of a grand piano, unaltered by the radio transmission. It was as though Bach was performing for me in my room. A fluid composition that brought images of rain to the listener's head. I remembered my mother play this on the piano at our old home. She would play this piece all the time. It was one of the last few things she remembered in the final stages of her Alzheimer’s. I very clearly recalled her sitting and playing this exact piece two years before Alzheimer’s got the better of her. The image of her and the piano never left my mind, nor did the notes of the piece. I welled up, but did not cry. I changed the station and heard the Eagles play 'Hotel California.' The door of my room was knocked and I heard what sounded like many voices shout out room service. Before i could get up to open the door, the door flung out wide open and three unearthly figures appeared before me. Three women appeared before me carrying a tray which presumably had my dinner in it. The women had different colored heads, green, red and blue. They all strangely looked a lot like my three ex-wives. I shouted out," Who are you freaks." The one in green said, “We are a representation of your inner demons. We have taken the form of your ex-wives to intimidate you. I am green as I represent

jealousy, the reason you divorced your first wife. Remember you could not stand the sight of her being the more successful partner in the relationship, of her earning more, being more popular and likeable. You hated it, the constant feeling of being an inferior, your chauvinist pig complex drove you to the edge and you divorced her for a younger more beautiful but less successful woman, you are a coward the worst form of filth that could ever exist." Before I could react the one with the red face looked at me and said," I am a representation of your rage. I took the form of your second wife because that was the reason you got rid of her. You were a weak man and I married you only for your money. You thought a attractive woman like me would be satisfied with junk like you. I had a lover, a lover you saw with me one day when you came back early from your work. You shot us both with your handgun and disposed of our bodies. You paid your way through the legal system and are scot free now, ha but your inner demons know you too well to let you go that easily." The one in red walked up to me and caught my hands as the one in green tied me up. They tied me with a thick strong rope. As they tied me up and gagged my mouth the one in blue went, "I am a representation of your paranoia. After your second marriage you could not live a minute without doubting the intentions of your wife. You followed me wherever I went, to the salon, the park and even hired detectives to spy on me. You were paranoid, fucking paranoid. The best part was I was the one who filed for divorce, not you. Now watch as we, your inner demons ger the better of you." They tied and gagged me and got me sitting on a chair. The red one looked at me and said, “This is the last dish you will ever eat" and they raised the cover only to reveal a knife. They took turns at stabbing me. No blood poured out of me. My shirt had holes but no blood stains. Every stab hurt real bad, but no blood.

The green headed one smirked and said," The son of a bitch is hollow on the inside, off with his head." The one with the blue head lifted her knife high up and drove it right through my head. My eyes felt hard to open. I tried hard and finally got to see the sunlight bounce off the white walls of my room. I was alive; it was just a horrible dream. I thanked god and decided to get out of the petrifying hotel at once. I changed into something else and packed my stuff and ran out of my room. When I was out on the lobby of my floor I saw Andre the bellboy carrying a tray, it had a large rope and a knife on it. He winked at me as he walked away. I got down to the receptionist's desk. It was the same woman from last night. “I would like to check out." “Sure sir please hand over your key and sign here., how was your stay at our hotel." "Surreal my dear, definitely surreal."

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