19 julio 2018


I arrived at the hotel on schedule, after almost ten hours of flight. While I was waiting for my reception, I thought of the meeting that was scheduled for the next day at 10 a. m. and that I had time to rest a little and read the contract documents for the umpteenth time.
Then I saw an orange fish that was in a fishbowl at the reception desk and next to it a small sign saying:
Alone in your room and you want company? Rent a fish. 3,5 €/night.
I spent a few seconds reflecting on what the managers of the hotel chain would be thinking to offer a fish as a companion animal, perhaps because it was aseptic. If I had to choose an animal, I would choose a dog or perhaps a cat or a ferret, but a fish?
Then I thought that, if the renting of the fish was a subliminal message from the hotel chain against prostitution, because it is well known that, in the big Asian cities, where businesses of all kinds are closed, there is a large market, very profitable, connected with prostitution.
I didn't give the matter any more thought and when the receptionist took care of me, after giving him my personal details, I rented the fish. She smiled at me and told me that they would take it along with the suitcases.
Already in the room I took a shower, got dressed and went down to dinner. Already in the room I took a shower, got dressed and went down to dinner. After dinner I went to the hotel bar to drink a 20 year old rum. I deserved it. Without my job, the contract we were going to sign the next morning would never have been closed. While I was drinking the rum, I realized that there was a woman who kept an eye on me and smiled at me. She was dressed like an executive, she was a brunette with very short hair. I continued to enjoy my drink, until the brunette approached me, left the briefcase on the floor and said to me in a tired voice:
"In your room or mine?"
I stayed a few moments without knowing what to answer.
"We have spent more than half an hour with complicit glances and smiles. I am very tired. I've had an exhausting day. I haven't stopped since ten in the morning. One meeting after another and I'd like to relax a little bit. I've been watching you since you walked in and I like you. You want some more explanation?"
"No, I don't want any more explanation. It's just that this is the first time something like this has happened to me. I'm not used to it."
"You are not accustomed to us women being the ones to take the initiative and perhaps you prefer a period of flirtation, but I really do not feel like it. I want to have my last drink and then fuck a little bit and then go to bed. Tomorrow I have an equally or more hard day ahead of me. This is my last proposal. I'll tell you, I don't usually do this. If I remember correctly, this is the second time I've done it. The first one was in Sydney, a few years ago and I liked the experience. What do you say?"
"Well, let's have a few drinks and then we'll see. Okay? All right?"
"Okay, I see you're old school. Shall we go to your room or mine?"
"I don't care."
"For in yours then. Give me about 20 minutes to go to my room and take a shower and drop off my stuff. Which room are you in?2
"721 st."
"Perfect. Order me a gin-tonic with a little slice of lemon."
"Okay. I'll wait for you."
"By the way, my name is Carmen, although everyone knows me as Carmela."
"Nice to meet you, Carmela. My name is Juan Alberto."
"I like your name. See you in a few minutes, Juan Alberto."
I finished my rum, as I watched the brunette get lost in the hotel lounge heading for the elevators.
Then I went upstairs, ordered another rum for myself and a gin and tonic for Carmela. As I waited, I stared for a moment at the fish I had rented and thought that in the end I was not going to spend the night alone with him, but with a magnificent company.
Carmela and I spent a night of scandal, drank and had sex as if there were no tomorrow, until we fell asleep. A wild and unforgettable night.
When I woke up Carmela was gone. He didn't leave me his cell phone number or even a miserable note.
I took a shower, got dressed and before leaving the room I looked at the orange fish that was swimming, placidly, in the thirty square centimetres of its tank. I thought of the €3.5 I had spent on his rent that had been wasted, just to increase the hotel chain's profit and loss account.
However, a month after I was at home, I received my credit card statement and there was a charge I recognized, but it wasn't at all in accordance with the amount.
Rent a fish: 503,50 €.
I thought it was due to a mistake and I knew that my company would not take care of that expense, because it only paid for the room and board.
Without giving him much thought, I called the hotel to ask the reason for this exorbitant figure.
I had to speak with a nice lady who listened attentively to my complaint. Then he told me that this was an extraordinary service offered by the hotel, which not only consisted of renting the fish in question, but that, by renting it, I would accept a flirting game with a lady of company and that I would only be charged to my account, if that flirtation went further, as it did with Carmela.
I told her, outraged, that I remembered that I signed the rental document for the fish, but that nowhere was there any talk of the game she was telling me about. The woman, in a charming tone, told me that I had not read the fine print at the end of the document she had signed. She was absolutely right; I hadn't read it.
When I hung up the phone I was almost determined to denounce the hotel, but I remembered Carmela and that spectacular night. I smiled. I told myself that, in the end, it was the money best spent €503.50 in a very long time and only live once and so I let it run.
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