Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wait and Rest Room

Plush maroon carpeting spreads over the floors like the spilled and drying blood of some regal jungle animal. Neither too red nor to brown, its shade is deep and warm, and creates the illusion that one might be standing within the soft heart of an enormous elephant. The walls are paneled with sheesham veneer, a rich chocolate brown wood swirled with even darker lines. They disappear into anonymity behind the array of fine art hung over their deep complexion like multicolored veils over the faces of exotic but somber women. Many of the frames are gilded with 24 karat gold.
The art itself is so exquisite in detail as to appear more vivid than life. Creamy skinned women stand with blue skinned lovers at the mouth of roaring seas or lay in the arms of furry white beasts playing wind instruments upon stony cliffs or dance in groups upon mossy embankments overlooking misty water falls. They seem as if they might step out of the frames at any moment, or as if perhaps theirs is the real world and the room with maroon carpet is only a crude painting. Antique lamps of fine polished brass, some adorned with tiffany lampshades and dripping with glittering lead crystals emit a warm glow. Scattered throughout the room, they stand upon sleek end tables fashioned of polished dark cherry. These rest near couches, divans, and love seats like faithful dogs at the feet of their masters.
The couches themselves are upholstered in darkest brown suede and some in pomegranate hued velvet adorned with gold embellishments in the baroque style. Many of these are planted so that their occupants might face each other and engage in intimate conversations. All are equipped to function as toilets as well as seats. The soft sued or velvet cushions need only be lifted to reveal the gleaming white porcelain of a toilet seat and bowl. Dainty little handles for flushing rest nestled among the at the back. Some have been neatly worked into the baroque embellishments. The din of idle chat fills the room like the bubbling of hot soup in a black kettle. The mob of individuals crowd together on the love seats, women sitting in men's laps and youths with tousled hair perched upon the arms of the couches. The scent of perfume mingles with that of after shave and the baser smell of hot human breath and urine. The laughter of the women rings out shriller than the baritone he-haws of the men. The smoke of a cigarette drifts along the ceiling, among the crystals of a chandelier and on past the mist seas of a painting. Coughing and nose blowing accent the general hum of unending conversation.
The men wear tuxedos, many have taken off the jackets and have loosen the bow ties and dab at their perspiring brows with embroidered handkerchiefs. The women don tight fitting evening gowns to reveal their bosoms and wear glistening earrings, and pearl necklaces. They grip satin and bejeweled clutches in their delicate and neatly manicured hands. A few fan themselves, the spaghetti straps of their skimpy gowns hanging off of their freckled shoulders. One woman in a clinging blue dress is using one of the toilets while the others around her continue to talk. Perched as she is, she endeavors to keep herself covered with the skirt of the gown, but it is too form fitting to accommodate her much, and her pale thighs and dark curly pubic hairs are apparent to all, while she wriggles like pate trying to go back into its shorn wrapper.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Brick-like pieces of luggage roll smoothly over the marble flooring of the lobby. A low rumbling echoes dimly against the walls as the plastic wheels roll over tiny lines of grout where each slab of marble comes together to meet another. There is a steady stream of people in the lobby. Couples walk in through the doors and towards the registration desk, men in their fifties walk quickly from the elevators towards the revolving doors that lead to the waiting taxis. A gray haired man in a long black coat reads the newspaper in one of the lobby’s blue upholstered armchairs, women in high heels click and clack on the hard floor. Beyond the marble boundary of the lobby, the green carpet begins. Down four steps and past two gold handrails is the large open casino. A variety of sounds comes from the dozen rows of slot machines on the right of the room. Their lights blink and flash, white, orange, and red. A group of large, white haired ladies in matching kacki pants and white collared shirts sit in a line on the padded stools of the slot machines. They hold small plastic cups, their hands reach in, almost in unison, grabbing quarter after quarter and feeding it into the machine. The casino is covered in a carpet of green that is accented by a busy pattern of yellow lines and blue dots, but the chaos of the pattern is held together by the dark green background of the thin carpet. It is a well worn carpet, made even thinner by the constant high heels of the waitresses in short black skirts that hardly cover their rear and the shined black shoes of the blackjack dealers that stand stoically upon it. A mirror covers the wall at the far end of the room. The mirror and the track lighting above reflects the thousands of bottles that sit on clear shelves just an inch from the mirror. Each bottle holds a varying shade of yellow tequila and each bottle is a different color, red, blue, buffed white glass. Waitresses swarm around the bar, behind it, in front of it…the women in tightly fitting nylons and black-strapped high heels hold small circular trays. Some hold trays with small glasses filled to the brim in clear alcohol, some hold trays that only have the melted remains of ice cubes and small slices of limes and crumpled napkins. Mounted on the wall, just perpendicular to the mirror, is a flat screen TV. A football game is on the screen, the images flash and change every second, but the sounds are muted and the importance of the game is lost amidst the sounds of slot machines and dealers and waitresses taking orders and the jingling of a dozen quarters spilling into plastic cups. A cluster of 6 blackjack tables are positioned close to the bar. The oak tables are taller than average and around it are extra tall metal stools with padded leather seat cushions. Three people sit at the table, the dealer stands like an idol before them, holding the cards that will determine their future. A blond woman in her thirties holds four cards in her hand. She looks at them with boredom etched along the sides of her red-painted mouth. She looks at the cards, she looks at the dealer, she takes a sip of her drink. All along the sides of the casino are metal bleachers like the kind found in a sports stadium, only despite their size, there are only five rows. They are dotted with the young children of gamblers, left to anxiously observe the proceedings as powerless spectators.