Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Taxi rank outside London Heathrow airport:

Taxi Driver: Where to, guv?

Tom Waits:               Wanna go town, town, town, and don’t call me that name,
I said town, town, town, or I’ll take the train.

Taxi Driver: All right, ’Old your ’air on. Whereabouts?
Tom Waits: Take me to the old town bar
and make sure there’s a rebel star.

Taxi Driver: So, that’s the Charlotte Street Hotel, Fitzrovia, me old china.

An hour later:

Doorman: May I take your bags, sir?

Tom Waits:               Well I was packing myself
God, it took me all day
Crushing all my shirts
For a lousy two-day stay.

Receptionist: Yes, sir, how may I help?

Tom Waits:               I stay tonight at your hotel
I’m as crazy as a honeyed hog
I’ve knifed a man in the moon’s motel
Took off on a butchered dog
Danced with all the Tsars guitars
Stalked the whores of Venice.

Receptionist: So, that’s a double, en-suite, smoking. Would you like a newspaper and a wake-up call?

Tom Waits:               I ain’t got used to sleeping
Under a tawdry sky
Go ask old Beelzebub the time.

Receptionist: And do you have a credit or debit card I can swipe for any extras?

Tom Waits:               The gold swoops down a glockenspiel
There’ll be no credit here.

Hands over a platinum AmEx card.

Receptionist: The lifts, sorry—elevators, are across the lobby to your right. Enjoy your stay with us, Mr Waits.

Tom Waits:               Its heart is made of candy-floss
Doors open in a mad bouquet.

Lift Attendant: Which floor, sir?

Tom Waits:               You can take me to the ceiling
You can take me to the ball
You can make it on a feeling
It’ll cost you nothing at all.

Lift Attendant: Fourth floor, it is. Mind the doors.

An hour later:

Telephone:Room service. How may I help?

Tom Waits:               Well butter up some daybreak, slice me a deal
Undo what the plums done when the dandelion was killed
Thick dough on the dark side, jam for ever more
Egg down the sausage and bring it to my door.

Room Service: That’s orange juice, preserves, toast, and a full English breakfast. Any tea or coffee with that, sir?

Tom Waits:               And the ghost of a hillside
In the whistle of a cloud.

Room Service:A caff-macchiato. No problem, sir.

An hour later:

Reception: Yes, sir, how may I help?

Tom Waits:               Outside a drunken stoop, yanking around in all the porn shops
Get laid, I’d rather talk, sleep in the doorway of the porn shops.

Reception: If you press the Pay-Per-View button on your handset and then input your room number, you can access Teens in G-Strings and Get Behind the Donkey for £8.99. These will appear on your bill as “Movies”. If I can be of any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to call.

Hotel room. Tom is sitting at an oak writing bureau, it has a green-leather tooled top, he is facing the window and sucking a pencil, his head cocked to the left. He takes the pencil from his mouth and writes on the Suggestions postcard:

Tom Waits:               My mouth tells me a story Of a scratching and an itch I only came to London town To end up in a ditch.

Oh, and some instructions
For the mini-bar would be of help
I moved that bourbon bottle
More times than I realized.


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:

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