Number Twelve, Grim Old Place

Hello Sir. Welcome to my humble abode. I call this my Alcove of Insanity, but this carefully put together flophouse has been known by other names across time. The first guest I invited here called it my Den of Delirium. The one I locked in for a really long time called it my Cave of Craziness. As you can see, I have a type. I only invite guests who can suitably alliterate my absurdity. Welcome. Make yourself at home. Feet off the table, please.

I beg your pardon, you want to hear about the infamous prisoner? What a harsh term you use. Kind shrinks would call it Stockholm Syndrome. The Hospitality industry labels him a guest. I call it love. You say potato, I say potahto. What’s in a name?

But yes, the one you speak of has remained here for a long time. I can smell him in every nook and cranny of my cranium. You see, once someone makes your head their home, you can never quite forget what they smell like. Does biology have anything to do with it? I suppose the mind can be trained to forget but the body is a brutal betrayer. It remembers. Memories can be pulled out of scars like books from a well stocked library. I have every conceivable encyclopedia written about him in the library I built here, the Library of Lunacy.

I don’t understand why people call this an obsession. Or worse, accuse me of overly romanticizing a bland reality. I swear I’m not lying, I only locked him up in here because he was perfect in every conceivable dimension where love existed. The first time I saw him, it was as they say- something out of a movie. Not in the way you’re thinking, no. The path to love is never so formulaic. It was a movie in the way my eyes first perceived him. Like a director training a film lens, I saw him from a distance. Long shot. But a clear focus on him, just him. Everything else was background noise. Unimportant mise-en-scène. And then, with each step I took towards this object of focus, sharper details began to emerge. His gait. His smile that greeted me from afar. His gaze that fixed me in my spot, so that I was momentarily unable to move. And then as we stood facing each other, I heard a thunder rumble, even though it was a clear, sunny day. I looked into his eyes and I knew. I knew that I had known him already. I knew that he knew the million thoughts racing through my head at that precise moment and I knew that he was able to keep up with every single one of them.

The Door of Delusion was shut. The condominium of pandemonium had been locked for years. But he smiled a slow, languid smile, taking his time to stretch his mouth while he drank in every detail about me. No one had looked at me that way. No one had ever knocked on the door. He did. He politely asked if he could enter. If there was room for a wandering traveler like himself at my Madness Motel. How could I turn such a sweet request down? He strode in before I could even comprehend his presence, his being, how fate could place someone like him in my path – me, a mere mortal, an unworthy creature. Surely there must be a mistake. Are you sure you want to rest here? There are better lodgings down the road. Better reviews, better management. Everything here is just a mess, I’m so sorry. I’m severely understaffed and inexperienced.

It’s lovely, he said. The most charming little inn I’ve ever encountered, he said. He checked in. He never left.

We’re closed for business now, good sir. It’s a lot of work looking after the ghosts of your past. He’s a very demanding guest. Well, he’s more of a tenant now, considering he lives here all the time. As you can see, the place has fallen into disrepair once more. I cannot maintain it, it’s too expensive and I make no profits off his rent.

What went wrong, you ask? I don’t know, sir. It was as though the thunder I heard when we first met was a forewarning to the inevitable storm. I was too caught up in the illusion of the sunny weather, I thought the sonic blast signalling my doom was a mistake.

Anyway, sorry for this digression. It’s important to understand the history of this Hotel. I hope it’s clear now. He’s no prisoner. He’s merely a squatter. I’m not keeping him here against his will, he stays here despite the damages he’s caused me. I’ve lost everything trying to keep this patron happy. Athithi Devo Bhava. I worship my most valued guest at the Temple of Twaddle and Tripe. Would you like to see him?

Here he is, see how the room automatically lights up when he walks in? I don’t know who designed it that way, I really must commend the decorator when I find out who she is. What is it? You can’t see him? Ah, this is advanced technology sir. You see, he is like a mirage. He only appears when you are dying of thirst in an arid desert and are desperately craving respite from the unforgiving heat. You can only see him if you truly believe he exists. So, close your eyes, take a deep breath and believe. Wholeheartedly. Without a shred of doubt – know it, he’s real. He lives here. Inside my House of Hallucinations.

I don’t know why you still can’t see him. I swear he is right in front of me. Look at him, that’s not a face you’d ever forget. No, I’m not making this up for attention. I told you, he only shows himself to those who are willing to believe.

You’re leaving already sir? I’m sorry you couldn’t experience our main attraction. Some other time, perhaps. Visit during Happy Hours. He can be viewed most clearly then. After sundown, he usually retreats into the shadows. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this short tour of Hotel Hysteria. Please come again and give us a good review on Yelp!

 

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