Winter 2008

Table of Contents - Vol. IV, No. 4


Poetry    Interview    Translations    Fiction    Book Reviews

Gregory G. Allen


The Business Trip

The creak made my eyes pop wide open as I felt someone in the room with me. I lay perfectly still in the bed, concentrating on my breathing. Could they hear me? Did they know where the bed was in this dark room? Had they been in this hotel previously to determine the layout of the room? Thoughts poured through my mind like a video edited for MTV....back when videos were actually shown on that channel. I hadn't recalled it being this black in the room when I turned off the lights. But I had two dirty martinis in me from my business dinner and basically fell into the bed after requesting a wake up call from the front desk. Did I lock the door correctly when I came in? I think I remember turning the bolt before I went into the bathroom to take a long needed piss. I can't recall much more.
There was the creak again. I starred forward watching the blackness change colors in my eyes. Dark blue, black, spots. What was on the nightstand? What could I use for protection? A lamp? Telephone? I'm sure there is a big Chicago phonebook in the drawer, but that would mean making noise to get it out. Crap. I think I moved. I'm sure he heard that. Now he knows where the bed is. Is he walking this way? I swear I see a faint shadow moving this way. I should have called my wife before I went to bed. I should have said goodnight to her properly. I feel my back getting wet from the sweat of not moving, or perhaps it is the vodka leaving my system.
More noise. Why did I put the A/C on automatic? Now I really can't hear anything else in the room over the hum of the unit. Maybe he'll walk towards the window and the rattle of that sound. If he does, I can roll over quickly and jump on the floor on this side of the bed. But he could flip on a light at that point and find me lying on the floor in my Calvin Klein’s. Is that how I wish to die? The shadow is on the move again. What is he looking for? Wallet. I left it on the table with my watch across the room. Maybe he will find it and just take it.
The martini is wearing off and I can recall the room. If he moves left, I can make a run for the door on the right. Did he put on the chain after he came in the room? I need to consider how many moves I need to make once I get to the door. I can do this. I can make it there. I'll throw my cell phone left against the wall to get him there and run right. One quick move. It's on the edge of the nightstand, isn't it? Come on, man. Time is running out. He'll be making his move so you have to do it first. One. Two. Three.
I'm rolling over, reaching for the phone and tossing it towards the left corner as hard as a can as I run towards the door. My phone hits the curtain and moves it allowing a stream of light from a neon sign to cascade into the room. My heart is pounding as I reach the door, but no one is running up behind me. My hand reaches for the chain on the door, but it isn't locked and still I hear nothing behind me. I fling open the door and light from the hallway pours into the room as I step into the hall in my underwear. There is no shot in my back, no one grabbing me from behind. I hit the light switch as I stand in my door and turn around quickly to look back into the room. The empty room. No one is there.
My breathing and beating heart both slow down as I start to laugh at myself. A grown man standing almost naked in a hotel hallway. I quickly step back inside and survey the room. Nothing. It must have been the late night drinking that took me back to being a small child who grows afraid of the dark. I remember thinking someone was in my room many times back then. I hit the switch on the wall and head back to the bed as my eyes adjust to the darkness once more. My cell phone. I'll get it in the morning and call my wife. She will get a kick out of this too. I'm back in bed, body temperature returning to normal. That light is going to bother me coming in from the window now. I jump up to push the curtain closed tightly once again and scoot back over into the big king sized bed.
The A/C kicks back on and I can concentrate on the hum to lull me back into some deep sleep. That morning meeting is going to come early so hopefully I can get a few more hours. Then, without noticing, he is sitting on my chest and I feel the blade slash my larynx making it impossible to scream. I should have trusted my intuition. I feel the warm blood draining from my neck and once again, the darkness is my only friend.


© Gregory G. Allen



Poetry    Interview    Translations    Fiction    Book Reviews

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