A new adventure every stay
Pete had long ago resigned to the idea he would never make anything other than budget commercials that were destined for the cheapest, late night spots on regional television stations. He had learned not to question his clients and keep his opinions to himself. But none of that was going to stop him from making the best commercial the circumstances would allow. He still had some talent, damn it. He knew when a commercial was heading to complete disaster. And when he saw disaster coming, he felt he had to speak up. Hopefully this client would be open to suggestions. “Miss Kepler? A word please?”
She walked forward, hips swinging so violently, it was impressive she managed to walk in a straight line. Her left hand swung though the air in an arc, starting at the elbow. Peter guessed it was supposed to look elegant and sexy, but to his mind it just made her look like a human metronome. Specially since her heels clicked in sync to the swing.
“Novelia, please,” Miss Kepler said with a voice that was dripping honey. Or more accurately; artificial, honey-flavored syrup. Everything about her had an air of artificiality. A shame, Pete decided, hiding underneath all that makeup, fake lashes, fake nails and piles of costume jewelry, was a relatively attractive woman.
“Novelia…” Pete gestured at the assembled employees. “Are you sure you want these people in the shot?”
“But of course. Each of them is crucial to the hotel. We are like a family.” Miss Kepler said, surprised the question even came up. “Why? What’s wrong?”
“Well…” Pete realized there really was no delicate way to say this, “Your cook looks a bit serial killer-ish.”
Novelia laughed an exaggerated, fake giggle . “Wiley? Oh, don’t be silly. He’s a big teddy bear!”
Teddy bear? Pete glanced at the man; bald, eyebrows so bushy and overgrown they were almost a unibrow, big scar on his right cheek, upper arms thick as tree trunks , and a big, bulging belly wrapped in an apron with poorly cleaned blood stains. His big, goofy smile did not improve his unsettling appearance — if he was a teddy bear, it was the kind that would maul someone. “If you say so,” Pete responded apprehensively. “But does he need to be holding that big knife?”
“I want people to be able to tell he’s the chef. Do you think another utensil would be better?” Novelia asked.
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, all right, you’re the professional,” she turned around “Wiley, honey, the director thinks that knife is not right for the commercial. Can you get something else?”
“Yes, ma’am.” The chef promptly disappeared into the building.
Miss Kepler turned back towards Pete. “He’s such a sweet man,” she gushed.
“Uh-huh.” Pete responded. Miss Kepler’s left hand still hovered somewhere near her face, hanging limply from her wrist. He had to resist the urge to pull it down while yelling no one actually stands like that. That wouldn’t be a wise move. Don’t yank the hand that pays you. Instead Pete turned his gaze to the two people left on the front lawn. His mind fixated on a man in a crisp white shirt and suspenders. He stood slightly hunched over, with his shoulders pulled up and his upper arms pressed to his sides, trying to take up as little space as possible. An impossible task, since the man looked to be almost seven feet tall and broad as a barn door. He was cleaning a whiskey glass with a white cloth, while his eyes darted from place to place. “Who’s the big guy with the waxed mustache?”
“Oh, that’s Cory Wallace. The absolute best bartender in town.” Even though they were surely out of earshot, Novelia leaned towards Pete and whispered: “He’s a little nervous to be on camera.”
“Is that why he’s been polishing the same glass for the last 15 minutes?” Pete observed dryly. “Can we get him to put the glass down for the duration of filming?”
“No no no no” Miss Kepler said, shaking her head for emphasis. “We don’t want that. We definitely don’t want that.”
“Why?” Pete asked.
“The only time he is not polishing a glass is when he is pouring drinks.” Novelia added.
The explanation didn’t clear much up at all. “Why?” Pete repeats, as confused as ever.
“Polishing that glass calms him. If I were to ask him to put it down…” her voice trailed off, losing its saccharine quality for a second. Then she renewed her big smile and upbeat tone. “Let him keep it. It’s harmless, right? It’s not like he’s making any wildly distracting movements?”
Pete stared at the bartender with horrified fascination, imagining the sort of rampage a man of that size could go on. He shudder slightly and forced the thoughts out of his head. “Um, sure. Maybe we can have the girl stand in front of him…”
“Woman” Miss Kepler interrupted, her lips slightly pursed in disapproval. “Don’t let her small stature fool you. She’s older than you think and one hell of a housekeeper”
“Apologies,” Pete mumbled. It had fooled him though. He would not have guessed the woman in the ill fitting maid’s uniform was a day over 19. Now that he thought about it, part of that had to be the white knee-socks. Or maybe the way she kept her head down and her hands clasped in her lap. “Eh, does she have anything against looking up and smiling?”
Novelia playfully hit his shoulder. “Of course not,” she said, drawing the words out, as if he had been trying to fool her but she was in on the joke. “Alice, sweetheart, can you smile for the director?”
Alice, Pete thought amused. That was what her uniform reminded him of; the illustrations for Alice In Wonderland. Then Alice turned her head towards him and twisted her mouth in a huge, sinister grin. Pete gasped and instinctively took a step back. The smile on Alice made his skin crawl.
Novelia fawned over her like a proud mother. “Beautiful, sweetie. You will do great.”
Pete stood opening and closing his mouth like a goldfish, unable to make a sound. It felt like he couldn’t move his limbs. He was paralyzed by Alice’s big black eyes that seemed to burn their way into his soul. Soft whispers in a language he didn’t recognize filled his mind.
The trance was broken when Miss Kepler clapped her hands in delight. “Oh there is Wiley.”
Pete jerked his head in the direction of the chef, who was now carrying a huge cleaver. “Oh yes. Much better,” he said in a small, squeaking voice.
“So, now that everyone is here, can we begin?” Novelia asked eagerly.
Pete grabbed at the sentence like a drowning man grabbing a flotation device. “Yes, lets get started.” The sooner he got this job done, the sooner he could put miles between him and this assortment of freaks. The staff took their places a few steps behind their boss. Pete jogged to the camera he had set up. After a quick check to see if all the settings were in order, he waved his hand to signal Miss Kepler that she could begin.
“Treat yourself to a break from the mundane at the beautiful Farrago Hotel. Experience our exciting merger of styles and perspectives. We have accommodations for every budget. No guest has ever left dissatisfied. Make your reservation today. We are looking forward to meeting you.
Farrago Hotel, where every stay is a new adventure.”