I am literally the only person at this old hotel on the Danube. I went down to the grand ballroom at 8 p.m. last night and the hotel clerk (who’s also the cook, and probably many other things, including maid) turned on the light. At all the tables, there was only one dish set out. Mine. I sat down. The clerk then traipsed down the long aisle, his black sneakers squeaking, and went behind the flowing curtains. About a minute later, he came out with a basket of bread.
“Can I get a beer, too?”
“Sure. What kind.”
“What’s the name of the Hungarian beer?”
“Yeah, one of those.”
He went in the other direction and came back with a tall can of Soproni with a picture of two cherries on it.
“Sorry,” he said, “this is the last one.”
“Ah, not so sure about cherry flavored beer. Do you have wine?”
He came back with a glass of cold red wine, and then his squeaking shoes took him down the long aisle and behind the flowing curtains again. I could hear something beeping back there, which I took to be the mircowave. A few minutes later, he came plodding out with a bowl of beef stew. I finished it very quickly and then it was time for the main course. Or was that the main course? I wondered. He showed up:
“I’ve got a big problem, sir. We don’t have a main course tonight. I’m sorry, it’s just… I was like, an’ all… Do you want another bowl of soup? Or, we have sandwiches…”
“Sandwiches? What kind?”
He blushed a little, and laughed. “I don’t know.”
“Aw, that’s alright,” I said. “I’ll take another bowl of soup.”
I heard his shoes again, I heard the whoosh of the white curtains and the microwave again. He brought another bowl out, along with the dessert: a doughnut.
I finished it all, and in the graveyard silence of that old ballroom, read the end of Twelfth Night. I’ve been on a Shakespeare run lately.
“When that I was and a little tiny boy
With a hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day…
With a hey, ho, &c.” ~ Feste the Clown
I think I came here in the wrong season.