The room felt dark and weird. Probably a lot like most of the hotel rooms in Tijuana. ‘Hell,’ thought Gerald, ‘I never heard of an upscale Tijuana hotel room.’ He lay quiet, unsure of what to do with himself next. It had been about 22 years since his last vacation, and Gerald was suddenly struck with an unfamiliar feeling – that of ennui, which is a very rich person’s way of medically diagnosing their boredom.
Gerald, however, was not very rich. He wasn’t very poor, as he had been a passionate chimney sweeper for 25 years (he took his first vacation when he was still married – a trip to Vermont with his then-wife, Suzanne) and he was fucking good at his job. The #1 Chimney Sweep in Kooskia, Idaho, was nothing to shake a fist at, and he proudly displayed his achievement within each Yellow Page ad he took out (mind you, Gerald took out an ad in the Yellow Pages in 2013, as he believed to be one of the few remaining US citizens aware of the fact that the internet was a fad), and the investment had served him well.
Gerald had ended up in Tijuana based off the advice of his slightly strange friend Steve (who had also, coincidentally served some time in prison) after he had confided in him regarding his advice on Gerald’s overdue vacation. “HELL of time, Gerald,” Steve had said with a strange glimmer in his eye. “WOO-BOY. HELL. Of. A. Time.”
So here Gerald was, in a dark and weird hotel room in Tijuana. As he sat, a bit bored and unsure what to do with the feeling, he contemplated the brochures in the dusty main office to the business, where Juan – an overly-eager front desk clerk with a Hawaiian shirt and a missing front left tooth – had checked him in.
“¡Hola!” Juan had said excitedly. “¡Bienvenido a Tijuana, Señor! How can I help you today?”
“Hole-ah,” Gerald replied – a keen response, brought to him by the Spanish language CDs he had been playing on repeat in his truck for the past two weeks, in preparation for his trip to Mexico. “Just a single room please, a room for a bachelor, such as myself, out here on vacation from Kooskia, Idaho, God’s country, if you never been you should consider- “ But then Gerald noticed Juan wasn’t listening. Juan was staring past him, at a slightly overweight, yet not terribly unattractive woman (about 46 years old or so) lingering behind Gerald in very (this was Gerald’s opinion, mind you) classy lingerie.
“Rosa, ven aquí. Estas Señor ….escuse me, Señor, what was your name?” Juan asked, switching his smarmy gaze from Rosa back to Gerald.
“Gerald,” Gerald replied, happy to be of service.
“Estas Señor Gerald. ¿A qué hora empieza el función?” Juan asked.
“Hola Señior Gerald. The show start at 7.” Rosa replied, in fine English, eyeing Gerald with a bored look and half-closed eyes. Without another word, she turned on her tarnished heel and walked out.
“Gerald, you are in luck! The best show in Tijuana starts at 7, and it’s right through the back alley, back there!” Juan pointed a bit enthusiastically to the dark-ish alleyway on the side of the hotel.
Gerald, unsure of what to do, and (to be honest) slightly missing his actual chimney sweep (Gerald did secretly believe, in fact, that the broom had become his best friend over the years), thanked Juan and subsequently took the keys to his dark, weird hotel room, where he planned to settle in before deciding on what was next.
‘The lady seemed nice enough. I’m sure she has a lovely voice,’ Gerald thought, as he assumed the show must be her performing some sort of song and dance, and (though he had never had experience with the theater or that sort of frivolous thing) he reminded himself he was on vacation in Mexico and he should be open-minded to these sorts of things. Which then stung a little bit, because that’s the last thing Suzanne had told him before leaving him for their neighbor, Dottie.
‘What the heck,’ Gerald continued in his mind, as he sat up from the lumpy bed. He grabbed his wallet and walked downstairs, back to the office, back to Juan, who’s eyes lit up a bit upon seeing Gerald return.
“May I purchase a ticket to the 7 o’clock show, Juan?” Gerald asked. Juan grinned, excited about the prospect of a customer.