Room 405 by Ken Wetherington

A hotel chambermaid drops in for a quickie with Jesús while doing her rounds; by Ken Wetherington.

The men watch me. I pretend to be unaware. They like my legs and the short skirt I'm required to wear. Their women watch me, too. They frown and glance at their husbands or boyfriends, trying to think of some way to reclaim their attention. Today, I pay them no mind. I'm ahead of schedule, and Jesús waits for me.

I unlock room 405 and push my cleaning cart inside. Jesús is lying naked on the king-size bed. I undress and fall into his arms. We make passionate love. We have to be fast. I have many rooms to clean. After he has gone, I dust, vacuum, and change the sheets. I move on to the next room and the next.

I see a young couple entering room 405 - him in his nice blue jacket and her in a smart yellow dress. She wraps her arms around his neck; his hand is on her ass. Lucky guy. I hope for her sake he's as good a lover as Jesús, but I doubt it. When my shift ends, I stash my cart in the custodial closet.

Alone in bed at night, I dream of the entwined bodies of the young couple. Jesús appears in my dream, and I join him. The four of us make love side by side, like reflections in a mirror. No swapping though, Jesús and I are not into that. My fantasy is disturbed by a crazy woman singing on the street. She always spoils my pleasure. I wish she would go away, but she sings all night.

I arrive promptly at 9am. Outside of room 405, I pause and listen. All is quiet. That's a good sign. I imagine the couple sleeping in each other's arms, their passion spent from a night of lovemaking.

I hear the crazy woman down on the third floor. She has followed me to work, again. Why can't she leave me alone? She mutters to herself and sings. I know all her songs. She'll disturb the guests if she doesn't stop. I call the manager from the phone in the custodial closet, but she disappears before the police arrive. They question me, like always, but I don't know where she's gone. Is she dangerous? I don't know and don't care, as long as she stays away from me.

Back on the fourth floor, I work my way down the hall. The "do not disturb" sign hangs on the door of 405. I smile. Then I hear voices. It sounds like an argument. I can't make out the words, but there is anger in their tone.

Another couple gets off the elevator, so I move on. It wouldn't do to be seen listening at the door. I can't afford to be fired over some silly offense. When the hall is empty, I start to ease back toward 405.

Then, two doors down, a man exits his room. As he squeezes past me and my cart, his sleeve brushes my breast. I know it's intentional when gives a quick peek over his shoulder at my legs. Asshole. He gets on the elevator and descends.

The door to 405 opens. The young man looks stern in his blue jacket. The woman walks with her head lowered. She mutters under her breath. I could swear I hear "cheater." My blood boils.

How lucky I am to have Jesús. He would never betray me. Sure, he can only come every now and then, but he knows how to treat a woman. His hands find all the right places, and he takes his time, except when we have to hurry, but that's okay, too. Quick pleasure is better than no pleasure.

Room 405 is a mess. Sheets are tangled and they smell of sex. An empty bottle of Merlot stands on the little desk, a broken wine glass beside it. I do my best job getting the room in order. I feel sad when I think of the poor woman who has been cheated on.

I take my break in the alley out back. They won't let me smoke inside or out front. The dumpster overflows with garbage from the kitchen. On hot summer days the smell is almost more than I can bear.

From out of nowhere, the crazy woman appears in the alley. She howls and waves a knife. I'm sure she's drunk. She stumbles against the dumpster and falls. It takes her a while to get up. I'm glad when she staggers toward the street. I see her knife on the ground. I pick it up, so she doesn't find it later and hurt someone.

I decide to get a bottle of Merlot at the grocery down the block. It's Jesús' favorite, I think. Next time he comes, I'll surprise him with it. The day is warm. I've broken a sweat by the time I reach the grocery. The wine section is amazing. Sometimes I walk up and down the aisle, just looking at the bottles. Today, I must hurry. I find the Merlot. There are so many choices. I choose one. On its label is a knight in shining armor, like my Jesús.

The boy at the register looks me over. I think he's going to ask for my ID. Instead, he takes a quick glance at my legs. I don't mind. He's so young. Maybe one day he will grow up to be a man like Jesús. Some do, though not many.

I reenter the hotel through the front door. Across the lobby, Jesús is getting on the elevator. It ascends before I can reach it. I wait for the elevator's return, the bottle of Merlot sweating in my hands. We shall have to hurry today. No telling when the young couple will return.

Jesús is surprised when I enter the room, but he responds quickly. We both know there's not much time. He kisses me, and I throw my arms around his neck as he lays me gently on the bed. His hands work fast, undoing my buttons. I muss his hair and turn up his blue collar.

Suddenly, he becomes very still. Something is wrong. There is someone else in the room. The young woman has returned. She screams at him. He pushes me aside and rises. They yell at each other.

I am confused. I see only the young couple. Where is my Jesús? Why has he deserted me? It's the man's fault. I struggle to my feet, trying to fasten my buttons. Somehow, the crazy woman's knife is in my hand. I lunge at the man. He strikes me, and I fall.

Someone sits atop me for a long time, holding my arms. Then the police arrive, with handcuffs. The man is bleeding from a cut on his hand. Blood is on the carpet. The woman is crying. The man reaches for her. She pulls away. "Bastard," she calls him.

The officers drag me away, and we crash into the little desk. My bottle of Merlot is broken. The wine seeps into the carpet. Too bad. I can get the blood out, but red wine stains are impossible.


  1. A well-paced story with a controlled reveal and religious metaphors. (Where is my Jesús? Why has he deserted me?) Nicely done.

  2. I loved the no-messing fast pace of this story. I was gripped all the way through and the hints about the identity of the mad woman were subtle but effective. The well-written ending confirmed our suspicions beautifully.

  3. I thought this was terrific. Not over the top in terms of,"leading the reader," but fast paced with great action and descriptions. Super emotion and a sustained level of energy throughout as well.