We were running late and the train would leave without us. Of course, we didn’t know this. Stuck in the Empire, trying to check out whilst the girl behind the desk filed her nails in disinterest whilst the credit card machine failed to connect. Again. We’d stood there fifteen minutes and it was steadfastful refusing to accept any friendship from our flexible payment.

“I’m sorry, Mr Schott. It’s very busy today.”

Back to the nails.

Maggie swore again, and walked over to the door.

“Andy come on. This is the last taxi.”

She turned round to face me and missed seeing the car drive away into the distance. I looked back at the desk.

“Do you have any other means of payment?”

“I’ve already told you.”

“Of course. I’ll try again.”

Maggie walked back to the desk. She always hated times like this. For her, leaving a hotel should be just that: walking out. Let them send a bill if they care; let her pay it if she could be bothered. Aside from tossing the keys across the counter, she found the whole exit messy, and an invasion of her time and privacy. No patience, that was the trouble, but she had a point. Maggie was known here. Known everywhere I suppose, and the sooner she could leave a place the better. I wasn’t No idol me – and perhaps that was why she liked me. The anonymous face without a life to detract from her own.

Today, though, she was not happy with me. It had been my idea to take that final walk by the water, and my fault, by extension, that.. well, it was my fault the money was gone. And my fault that we were now trying to leave the hotel with the one final card, continually being rejected or not even talking to base camp with its call for approval. Until..

“Sign here.”

Even on the best of days, my signature looks like a drowning spider has staggered across the page still covered in the ink from its final accident. The girl behing the desk didn’t look closely. I could have called myself Mickey Mouse and she would have taken the payment. Nothing to do with Maggie, this was her own rejection of the world around. Why pay attention to what is around you if you can’t stab at it with sharpened talons?

Maggie saw that the transaction was complete and dragged me to the door, yanking my arm from its socket as I just succeeeded in picking up my small shoulder bag from the floor.

“Come on.”

We ran outside and she saw for the first time that the taxi had gone.

“Fucker. Fuck. I asked him to wait.”

We looked at the road and the cars running past. There were others, like us, who were looking out from the side of the hotel. I thought that the place would have arranged a car for us. No such luck. Not here. Not after the weekend that we had just faced.

“STOP!”

I always hate cotradicting Maggie when she’s wrong, especially when she’s so wrong as to be standing in the middle o the road, arm outstretched to deflect the journey of an oncoming volkswagon.

“Maggie, MOVE!”

The car stopped. She moved then. To the door.

“We need to get to the airport.”

I will never, ever, forget the look of terror in that poor woman’s face as my demented love took control of the car.

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