The Hotel of Absurdity By Alexander Tomov Jr.
The Hotel of Absurdity
On that strange morning, it suddenly got dark and I realized that evening had come. I got up from the chair and left the house. I had finally decided to go visit the Hotel of Absurdity. Everybody can visit it just once in his short lifetime, but nobody can ever forget it. That is where the real shadows of things roam about…
As I wondered whether to walk there or take a cab, I found myself already standing in front of the Hotel of Absurdity. It was located on a perfectly ordinary street in the center of the city. It was rather small and looked like some kind of a weirdly shaped house. There was nobody around. I walked in through the glass door and the bellboy greeted me with a strange gesture. I looked around. Red carpets, white walls, a dull yellow light. The place reminded me of somebody else’s childhood that wasn’t quite over…
“Will you be needing a room, or do you just want to walk around?” the bellboy asked me.
“I’d like to walk around, if you’d accompany me,” I answered.
“That’s my job,” he said and the two of us headed up the stairs. Suddenly, I heard a faraway voice through the wall.
“Please, I need somebody to talk to! Can you hear me?”
“Who is that?” I asked and put my ear against the wall.
“It’s the man who got stuck in the elevator,” the bellboy answered.
“How long has he been in there?” I asked.
“About 150 years…”
It was hard for me to believe it, but I accepted it anyway.
“I need to speak to somebody. I haven’t said a word in a hundred years. Ever since that elevator repair guy came by to check on the ropes and the shaft. He was in a hurry, but we still managed to talk for five minutes or so. Ever since then… Can you hear me?”
“Isn’t there anybody who could get him out of there?” I asked the bellboy.
“That’s none of our business. Nor is it any of yours,” he told me and I…. I just forgot about him, as we continued up the stairs.
We were already at the beginning of the hallway on the first floor.
There was an open door next to me. Through the door, I saw a distraught woman with a pained face, who was leaning over a young man. His hair was blond and his face was handsome and radiant.
“Why, my son? Please, tell me why! I did everything I could to raise you well. Everything I could, even though you had no father. God is my witness, I’m a good person. And you, my son…? What made you turn into such a monster? It doesn’t make any sense. I’ve always loved you and taken care of you. You have no motive! Please, tell me what possessed you to kill and murder women and children? Why did you cut them to pieces and eat their flesh?” the desperate woman raved deliriously into the young man’s face. Without saying a word or even flinching, he looked straight into her eyes and smiled tenderly, like a child…
The bellboy looked at me, and then, with a mixture of wonder and indifference, he shrugged his shoulders, and we walked on.
Suddenly, an enthusiastic voice came from some speakers that were apparently concealed in the walls of the red carpet hallway.
“Come to the show – tonight’s spectacle is You in Your Own Deepest Fantasy! The stage will be dominated by a complete and total attitude of ‘anything goes,’ and all moral and human inhibitions will be ignored! All the show’s performances so far have proven that any kinds of perversions are completely normal, since the people performing them are completely normal themselves! The show’s organizer is the great Hatha Yogi Taj Mahar, who died of sunstroke at the North Pole in 1975!”
As we stood there and listened in, the bellboy suddenly took a cigarette out of his pocket and lit it.
“Every cigarette is another nail in the coffin, but so is every day in one’s life, through, if I’m being honest, I’ve never seen a coffin with so many nails in it,” he said and smiled sheepishly, as if to himself.
We came to a stop by another room, whose door was open. Through the cigarette smoke, I noticed a strange sight.
Two men and a woman, who were all dressed formally, stood there and leaned over a motionless man in a suit, who was stretched out on the bed. His face was deathly pale, with a barely discernible smile spreading across it.
“Who is this guy?” the woman asked with great astonishment.
“This guy shot himself in the head, but we brought him along anyway! We’re not sure if he’s actually dead. The doctor can’t tell either. Sometimes it’s hard to tell life and death apart. We thought we’d bury him, but to me it seems like his face keeps twitching from time to time,” one of the men said.
“Yes, in principle he’s a cadaver, through every once in a while it seems like he’s smiling,” the other man added with a wise expression, while the bellboy and I continued down the hallway.
Soon, we came to a stop in front of a closed door. The bellboy motioned for me to come closer. I put my ear against the door…
“… The Masters of the World radical group is starting a new campaign under the slogan, ‘The country of --- – may its territory’s borders extend to three different oceans!’ If some other country mocks the endeavor, the Masters of the World would consider this a grave insult and will have no choice but to respond to such ridicule with nuclear weapons!”
The bellboy and I exchanged glances and we both shrugged, kind of naturally. Then once again, we headed down the hallway, whose end was already in sight. From several feet away, I could hear a heated argument. I stopped next to another open door. Through it, I saw two men, both dressed in elegant suits, who stood face-to-face with each other, as in an ancient battle. Both of them had white hair and anxious expressions. A small fire was burning on the floor next to them.
“There’s some kind of logic to be found in virtually each and every absurdity in this world, even in the most total of absurdities!” one of them said.
“I’ve never heard a bolder claim! Then let me put you to a challenge! Find the logic in that ancient movie’s senseless line, which went like this, ‘I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.’”
“Of course there’s logic in it! Don’t you see it? That’s not a challenge, it’s mere child’s play,” his opponent said, without even stopping to think about it.
“Then, explain to me how you can detect even a hint of logic in it!”
“It’s very simple. The line’s logic is obvious, if we assume that the man who said it was a blatant and over-the-top liar. If he purposefully lied in a way that let everyone know that he was lying, this means that by lying, he expressed himself as a liar. Therefore, in a weird way, he revealed the truth about himself through lying.”
“Yes, this might possibly be a logical thread, but…”
I had already walked by the room and now it was forever behind me.
“I can only accompany you to this point! This is as far as I can go! Complete absurdity lies beyond this line!” the bellboy said, as he fell several feet behind.
“What line? We’re right in the middle of the hallway! Where do you see a line?” I turned to him and asked.
He just raised his eyebrows.
Very slowly, I headed to the end of the hallway. Several feet in front of me, there was a room, whose door was closed. I heard a voice coming from the inside. Nervously, I walked up to the door and put my ear against it…
I heard the noise of restless footsteps and the banging of some kind of metal, followed by the sound of an overexcited voice speaking on the telephone.
“Yes, he’s here. Right here in front of me! Right in front of my eyes! His wife is also here, but she has no desire to speak to anyone, considering the madness – and that’s putting it mildly – of the situation.”
This was followed by a brief pause…
“The lawyer is right in front of me and it’s all completely true.”
Another brief pause.
“Everything you heard is indisputably true, although I doubt that anyone who hasn’t seen it would believe it. One morning, the head of my lawyer, who is presently standing right in front of me here in the hotel… well, his head turned into… a teapot. It’s absurd, really. His wife panicked and brought him here to the hotel, then called me. Almost none of his friends and colleagues know about this metamorphosis. The whole story is undoubtedly a little Kafkaesque, but even more absurd. It’s obvious that as long as he has a teapot for a head, the lawyer won’t be able to defend anybody in court. He’s not able to speak at all, actually. From time to time, the teapot’s metal lid starts rattling excitedly, and this is a sign that he’s trying to say something. He’s also making attempts to write things down, in the hope of explaining how he woke up one morning and, instead of a head, he had a brand new and modern teapot on his shoulders, and what it all means. There are some doubts that what’s at play here is an evil curse, put on him by a gypsy, whose son was murdered by a criminal that the lawyer defended and managed to exonerate. When his wife mentions the case in question, steam starts furiously coming out of the teapot’s metal spout, as if it were boiling, which is most likely the lawyer’s attempt to express his anger…”
I pulled my head away from the door in astonishment. I felt an overwhelming urge to open it and see the lawyer who had a teapot instead of a head. But something stopped me from acting on it.
I continued carefully walking down the red carpet. And suddenly, I though of something absurd, a memory from my distant past. It was an eternity ago, when I was still half a child. It’s late at night, I’m drunk and I’m walking together with a distant acquaintance of mine. This is before life separated us and we never saw each other again. We are walking to a bar, now long gone, though in my memory it is still open. We’re giddy from the alcohol and we keep smoking one cigarette after another.
“How quickly the cigarettes run out,” I say suddenly, astonished.
And then, for a moment, through the drunken delirium of that inebriated night, now long-lost and forgotten in the stream of time, I see something in my acquaintance change. It’s as though he’s become a completely different person.
“Everything comes to an end. Cigarettes run out. Life runs out too…” he says, with a wise man’s voice.
I was already getting to the end of the Hotel of Absurdity’s cozy and mysterious hallway. There was a small window there, which revealed a spectacular view. A mysterious woman who had long black hair and wore a jacket stood by the window. I came to a halt beside her and looked through the window. She turned to me and gave me a barely discernible smile. Her pale face was beautiful.
“Look at that view! The end of the world! Isn’t it romantic?”
“It is,” I said awkwardly. The view was truly strange. On the outside, life was going on as usual. I knew that the Hotel of Absurdity’s hallway was the only place where one could see the end of the world before it had actually happened.
“I don’t know why, but this nocturnal apocalypse reminds me of a poem from my childhood. I don’t remember all of it, but I think its ending went something like this,
What’s even stranger is that
All these strange things are just a mere speck
Along the path to the strangest day of all.
The Day of the Final Death Toll.”
“What an incredible verse,” I said in amazement.
She looked at me again, and her face had become seductive. Unintentionally, I felt desire for her.
“Please, promise me something,” she said.
“Promise me that you’ll never fall in love with me!”
I felt like my consciousness was splitting in two.
“Why would I promise you such a thing?”
“Because I’m very perverted!” she said and turned back to look at the apocalypse through the window.
Without a word, I turned away from her and headed back down the hallway. By then, the view of the end of the world through the window was a distant memory. A moment later, I was already downstairs and the bellboy was politely walking me through the front door. I found myself on the street. I turned around and looked at that ridiculous bellboy, whose strange clothes and absurd expression made him look like a clown.
“Farewell. We might never see each other again,” I said, a little sadly.
With a twisted and ridiculous face, the bellboy reached out his hand, pointed his finger at me, and said excitedly, “Life is short.”
About The Author
Alexander Tomov Jr. was born on June 3, 1982 in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. He is freelance writer and film director who is looking for recognition abroad. His work consists of short stories and short films. The author creates unorthodox points of view toward the world and the human existence. Some of his stories are hypotheses for the development of society and civilization and for the evolution of human nature in the far future. His dream is for his works to become popular in the Western world.
“I create very short stories and very short movies in genres Absurd, dystopian, fantasy, fiction, post – apocalyptic, surreal, grotesque and drama. My creativity is a thorough study of human psychology, of eternal values and the questions each one of us asks himself, of modern society and its pathological ideas and notions. The works in it are trying to reveal the truth about people as it is, in a unique and original manner. They are an attempt at surveying and explaining the depths of human soul and subconscience, usually hidden behind banal and ostensible things. My short stories and short movies include also hypotheses, or at least an attempt at making ones, about near and far future and the evolution of human civilization in social and political aspect. Although the stories have logical subject-matter, the theses and ideas they describe, are absurd and existential. They are looking for a nonstandard point of view towards world and human imagination. My short stories and short movies are inspired from something that comes from deep intuition, from connections that are usually unthinkable, from pain and fear. They are conceived as an entirely global and symbolic prose and cinema. I have tried to describe the impossible, the absurd and unthinkable at this moment, which, as has happened so many times in history, after some time can become our reality. My dream is for my works to become popular in the Western world, both among people who are literary orientated and those who are not. I am confident that I have studied some, so far unrevealed nuances of human psyche and that this will contribute to contemporary society”.