I got out of the metro that faced the Jamaica Hospital with homeless people on the benches in front of the metro exit. They looked at me curiously. I looked like a tourist. I crossed the Van Wyck expressway and made mynway into the small hotel.
The cute Indian girl at reception had a bit of an accent, between Brooklyn and Jersey, that was hard to classify. The whole staff were Indian. They were very polite. I was there early. It was only 11.30 and check in was at 2. The polite girl at reception managed to find me a room that had already been cleaned.
“Please make sure it’s clean and smoke-free, ” I said.
She told a younger guy to stay at reception and came down to see the room with me. Itbwas very clean. Everything worked fine.
“You’ve seen your share of crappy rooms, ” she half-asked. She was smiling. “It’s in the basement, but it’s fine.”
I agreed. I thanked her.
“By the way, it’s Friday. I just wanted to invite you to a party tonight. Here’s a coupon. Just mention my name,” she said, unbuttoning 2 buttons of her hotel shirt. It was the way it worked. It was a trap for people they thought would waste money.
“Do I look that desperate?” I asked.
She looked at me, surprised.
“Look, Rani,” I said, looking at her still-intact name tag, “I don’t waste money on things I can get for free. Can I get you for free?”
“Ok. It’s just a party,” Rani said. She buttoned up, smiled, and tried to look kempt. She looked like she’d just had sex. She probably felt worse.
“Thank you, Rani,” I said. I figured pretending nothing happened was good for my staybat the hotel. She smiled and felt better after I became ‘normal’ in my demeanour again. “I’m sorry,” I said, “I think I may show up.” This made her happy and she exited the room.
I wanted to fill the small fridge with a bit of food, like Greek yoghurt and such. The new Indian girl at reception pointed me to the direction of the big supermarket. I walked a big block and still no sign of it. I saw a guy lening against the wall eating the last of his sub.
“Where’s the big market, man?” I asked him.
“Name’s Reginald. It’s another street down. ”
“Hold up,” Reginald said as he approached me and gulped the last of his submarine sandwich. “You into black pussy? I know you’re a white guy, but some of you are secretly into that. ”
“I don’t discriminate on pussy,” I said.
“Here’s a ticket to a party,” he said.
I showed Reginald the ticket Rani had given me.
“Oh man. That’s a whole different thing,” Reginald said, laughing.
“Tell me, Reginald, what are these parties?”
“The one the hotel girl gave you is a place to buy bitches drinks and then maybe eventually bang one,” he said. “The one I gave you is an underground place. Lots of legit bitches who like white guys like you.”
“Reg, I’ll take your fucking deal. Just tell me it’ll be cool.”
Reg smiled. “You and a few other white guys will be there.”
“It’s too much trouble for me, man,” I said.
“Cool. But I’ll get you what I promised. Is 100 reasonable?”
“Yes,” I said. You need to be careful in these situations.
We walked to the market and he introduced me to Lola, newly arrived from Ghana. He looked at my indecisive manner.
“Forget about tonight, man. Get to know Lola better.”
Reginald left and Lola and I went shopping at the grocery store for later. She was a very attractive woman. About 22 or so. She spoke English and Portuguese.
Lola insisted on carrying the grocery bag for the 10-minute walk back to the hotel.