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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Pop Stars in Hotel Rooms: An Occasional Series

She plans to book into the hotel just after 1:30 p.m. The schedule her secretary gave her before she set out this morning stipulated that the check-in time was 2 p.m., but she is certain that being 30 minutes early will not inconvenience the hotel staff too much. The taxi pulls onto the forecourt and the driver politely opens the door for her, tugs an imaginary, and no doubt he thinks, comic forelock. She tips him with a signed photograph and a £10 note, even though the fare is only £15. He had rummaged among his CDs throughout the journey in search of one of hers—a best-of—he swore his wife had bought him the previous Christmas. The doorman is just as polite as the taxi driver was and he opens the main side doors to allay any fears she may have about revolving ones. She crosses the lobby, feeling other guests’ eyes on her. The receptionist, whom she thinks must definitely moonlight as a model, looks up, smiles, enters her details ever so discreetly, slides the VingCard to her across the marble counter, and says, “Penthouse suite. I am sure you will be very comfortable. And if there’s anything we can do …” The receptionist beckons a porter. She smiles and waves him away and carries her overnight case to the lifts the porter indicates with a sweep of his arm. She reaches her floor. There are two doors and hers is to the left. She pushes in the card, the light turns green, and she enters. The suite has a lounge, a dining room, three bedrooms, a bathroom and a shower room, two toilets, and floor-to-ceiling windows allowing her a semi-panoramic view of southwest London. A basket of fruit awaits her, as does a bottle of Cristal champagne. She lets her jacket fall to the floor and then thinks better of it and hangs it in one of the wardrobes. Her mobile trills and she takes it from her bag and says, “Uh-huh. Huh. O.K.” She takes her jacket from the wardrobe and double-checks she has her room card. She opens the door and is about to leave when she decides to slip back into the bathroom and tear the neat triangles from both toilet rolls; she leaves them ragged. She drops the torn tissue onto the stone floor, she takes the waxy paper tops from both tooth glasses and drops them into the toilet, and she squeezes out some Molton Brown lotion and smears it around the basin. In the lounge, she takes the cushions from the chairs and swaps them with the ones on the sofas, and, finally, she moves one of the Matisse prints to one side so that it is crooked, unaligned. She double-checks she has her VingCard and leaves the room. The lift is waiting and as she gets inside to ride the 12 floors down, she punches the air and shouts, “Yes, for I am Dido, Queen of Carnage!”

Pop Star

Steve Finbow lives in London. His fiction, essays, short plays, poetry, and stuff is in, or will soon be in, 3am Magazine, The Beat, Big Bridge, Dicey Brown, The Edward Society, Eyeshot, The Guardian, InkPot, Locus Novus, McSweeney’s, nth Position, Pindeldyboz, Taj Mahal Review, Tattoo Highway, Thieves Jargon, Tin Lustre Mobile, Über, Wandering Army, Word For/Word Word Riot, Xtant, and Zacatecas. He writes the bi-weekly cultural column Pond Scum for Me Three, where he is also a contributing editor, he is associate fiction editor for Absinthe Literary Review, reviews the odd book for Stop Smiling, and is a writer with Quarantine Theatre Company. A longer bio and links to his work exists here: