Micro fiction: Hotel Patrolman

The lobbies of hotels are all the same the world over – a buzz with bellboys, business men, couples and maybe the occasional diplomat. I sit here at 3pm every day. They make a mean cup of coffee.

I read a newspaper and try to fit in with the crowd but when you look like me, it’s harder than you might think. The newspaper I read is simply a disguise of course, don’t we all wear disguises? It hides the fact that I’m deep in thought, thinking about liberty, justice and how I can make the world a better, safer place. You could say I’m something of a police man except I have no badge and I don’t really belong to any department but I do go on patrol from time to time.

Some may call me a vigilante.

They’re wrong of course; they just don’t know the organization I’m affiliated with. Anyway, as I sit here with my coffee and newspaper, gazing at it with a glazed look, I usually put my headphones in for effect. I’m lucky in the sense that my organization have given me an iPod that allows me to tune into the emergency services radio frequency. By the way, did I say that the hotel is two blocks from the police station? Yeah, that’s another reason why it’s convenient.

So each day I sit here and I wait – headphones in, staring at the newspaper. Occasionally I’ll glance up at the TV screen in the lobby to see if the 24 hour news channel they run has reported anything interesting – any emergency situation that might require my attention – but every time I look at that thing, no matter what’s on it I always think to myself, why is there a TV showing 24 hour news in the lobby? No one ever stops to look at it. I imagine if the world were ending these people would still go about their daily business. It puzzles me but then again, I was never really good with puzzles anyway. I’m ok with codes though, I guess I sort of have to be.

Given that I’m not called away, my phone is always sitting in my lap just in case an important business call comes through; I sit in the hotel lobby for about 2 hours. Around about 5pm the hotel suddenly gets busier and that’s usually a good time to slink off leaving no trace. It’s probably customary to leave your newspaper behind when you’re done with it but I never seem to get all the way through it because in between the police frequencies being beamed directly into my ear and the deep thoughts I have about righting wrongs in the world, I rarely make it to the TV listings in the middle.

I don’t usually get called away though. In fact, between you and me, I never get called away. Sure crime happens but the police are usually quick to respond to it and, if I’m honest with myself, I’m a little scared to pop along to the scene of the latest emergency because who knows what’ll happen if a vigilante turns up. What if I get arrested too?

Ergo, I wait.

I used to find myself interested in watching the people who come in and out of the hotel. Some are couples who’re not really together. The air between them is fraught with sexual tension yet they never touch; a lover’s tryst that culminates in a hotel room. Naturally I never stay long enough to know if they stay for a night or just a few hours – neither would surprise me in any regard. You often get business men from out of town checking in and occasionally some diplomat. Sometimes accompanied by an entourage and sometimes they’re alone but either way they are always on the phone nattering away in some foreign dialect or language.

The lobbies of hotels rarely differ though, and these days I watch the people less and less. You would be surprised at the sheer lack of shady characters you see in places like this. I originally picked this spot in the hopes of finding some shady looking Eastern European, Middle Eastern or Latin American drug lord checking in, or maybe some familiar faces from abroad that are wanted in their native lands but it’s yet to happen. I used to come in at 12pm and leave 10pm. But what was once a 10 hour shift has become a 2 hour shift. I’m always eager to leave.

The buzzing in my ear is suddenly becoming fevered, much more distinct. The police scanner has lit up like children’s toy and I’m hearing multiple people speaking of how a bank robbery is in process in the cities central bank. By my calculations they’ll probably steal millions and we can’t have that. The location is spat out by various voices on the radio so I decide to take a note of it on my hand. It’s time to leave, I think.

Today, I’m leaving my paper. I won’t need it. I think to myself “I’m tomorrow’s news anyway” and before I know it I’m excited. I’ve sat here for months and months waiting for something to happen so I can make a difference in this city. I make a bee line for the revolving doors and run through them at great speed only to be stopped in my tracks.

My cape’s caught in the door. Bugger.

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