I keyed in to my room and saw immediately it had been cleaned. The dishes from my breakfast had been removed and everything looked fresh and polished. Housekeeping had left my flowers in their vase on the table. I was gonna miss this room.
I went into the bathroom and did what you’re supposed to do in there. Then I started throwing clothes in my duffel bag. I put my toiletries back in the plastic baggie they came in. I stuffed as many of the Bvlgari shampoos and shower gels as I could in there too—the stuff was so fantastic. The now full plastic baggie went in the duffel as well. I checked the closet twice and the drawers three times for missed items.
I remembered how housekeeping had had my clothes pressed, so I ripped the note off the garment bag in the closet and scribbled my own note on the back. “Thank you so much for the excellent service. You made my stay most enjoyable. Yours, Jack Schaeffer.” I pulled out a twenty from my wallet and placed it and the note on the desk in the living room.
I now had seven dollars in my wallet to get home on. Thank God Billy said he would drive me to the airport. I grabbed my jacket and the key cards and with one last glance at the mountains through the window, I walked out and shut the door.
I rounded the corner for the elevators and ran smack into Miguel. I apologized profusely and tried to step around him, but he blocked me.
“Well, well, well. What have we here? Where ya goin’, Mr. Schaeffer?” The anger and disrespect were palpable.
“Let me pass, Miguel. I’m late.”
“Oh, I don’t think so, Mr. Schaeffer. I think you want to stay right here with me. You missed out on a good time this morning, didn’t you Mr. Schaeffer? You wouldn’t want to miss out now.” He started touching me all over. My skin crawled, my fear climbing off the charts. I kept shuffling backwards to get away from his hands which were everywhere, on my ass, my thighs, my chest.
My back hit the wall behind me and I was trapped. He kept leaning in closer and closer. I could smell his breath now. He reeked of alcohol and something else–pure animal sweat. Bile rose in my throat, full blown panic seconds away. His hands got more insistent, squeezing my ass now as he told me how much I was going to enjoy this. I closed my eyes so I couldn’t see the evil on his face anymore.
I heard the elevator ding behind him and he suddenly disappeared. One second he was trying to kiss me with his rancid breath, the next, he was gone. I squeezed open one eye and saw Miguel pinned up against the opposite wall by the elevator. Billy had him by both arms and was holding him tightly, his feet four inches off the floor. The macho bravado was still on his face as he saw me looking from across the hallway.
“So, you think you’re mister big shot, eh pretty rich boy? Get your slave here to do your dirty work for you? Have to have your hired muscle protect you from little ol’ me?”
I snapped. I took three running steps across the hall and slammed my outstretched hand into his throat between Billy’s giant arms. An unholy rage erupted in me and I started squeezing his neck tighter and tighter until I saw the mockery turn to real fear in his eyes.
“Jack!” It was Billy’s voice. He was distracting me from my work. I needed to remove this vermin from the earth.
“JACK!” His booming deep voice broke the spell of my uncontrolled anger. I looked at Billy and back to Miguel. My hand was still squeezed tightly across his throat. I didn’t remember putting it there. I leaned in closely to Miguel so he could feel my breath on his face.
“Nobody...nobody...talks about my friends that way. Do you understand me?” No response. I squeezed tighter.
“Do you understand me?” I shouted right into his nose. This time he looked at my eyes, then to Billy’s, and back to mine. He nodded once, then again more quickly until he started to look like a bobble head doll up against the wall.
I let go of his neck and stepped back. My arm hurt. Billy still had him against the wall. He didn’t look like he had broken a sweat.
“Come on, Billy. Let’s go. I wanna get out of here.” I moved to the open elevator. My duffel bag must have somehow gotten kicked into the doorway in the scuffle. It was now blocking the doors from closing.
Billy put Miguel down very slowly, and then leaned in and almost whispered, “If you ever put your hands on another person without their personal invitation, I’ll come back and break you into little pieces and drop you down the elevator shaft. You feel me?” Miguel went back to vigorous nodding, totally defeated. Billy gave him a slight shove backwards and then stepped onto the elevator with me and pressed the Lobby button.
As soon as the doors closed, I collapsed into his chest and burst into tears. My legs nearly buckled, but he held me up tightly and just let me cry. It didn’t last long. Billy never said a word, he just held on. By the time we got to the ground floor, I was standing on my own and breathing normally. What I looked like I had no idea and frankly didn’t care. I walked straight for the revolving front door and skipped the front desk altogether. I tossed the key cards in the trashcan and walked out. I was done with the Ritz.
Back in the car, Billy got us moving again. He kept looking in the mirror at me.
“You alright back there, Jack?”
“I’ve been better. But I’ll be okay. Thanks for coming to my rescue. Again.”
“What the hell happened, Jack? I send you up to get your stuff and you don’t come back. I come to find you and you’re pinned against the wall with a guy all over you. If I hadn’t seen your face, I’d have thought I was interruptin’ something hot and heavy.”
“Hardly. Don’t remind me Billy. It was awful. His hands were everywhere.” I shuddered at the memory of his smell and vowed to forget it had ever happened.
“Okay, Jack. I’ll drop it. But I gotta ask you one thing. What happened back there? You suddenly went all Rambo on the guy. I thought you were gonna kill him.”
“I snapped, Billy. He said that crap about you being my slave and I just wanted him gone. Him and his evil smirking face. Just gone. I meant what I said to him–nobody talks about my friends like that. Of course, it helped you were holding him still.” I laughed at the absurdity of the situation.
“So Jack, you think of me as your friend?” He was smiling, trying to lighten the mood.
“Billy, with an ass like yours, of course I want you as my friend.” We burst out laughing. It felt so good to be so free.