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Roger King | Horizontal Hotel: An Excerpt

Horizontal Hotel: An Excerpt



There comes a point in people’s lives when they are more than themselves and, seeing this, others are drawn to them. To some who have watched me in recent weeks I have fallen, to others I have arrived. As for myself, sometimes I have felt almost holy.

The picture is of a gathering outside my house: a semi-circle of Africans chatting, drinking, leaning on their cars. People move without fuss from the clearing to the house, from the light to the dark. In the shade of the porch a girl in a wrapper sits relaxed on an upright chair – just before or just after making love. I move easily among them, touching here and there, full of certainty. I cannot decide whether this is memory or a dream.

In front of me is a blank wall, on each side windows, through which light penetrates with a raw strength that seems to hold me upright on the bed. The light is surprising, the heat too. They are somehow…inappropriate. I shake my head to rid it of its singing, but when the turbulence settles the singing remains. My hand starts to reach for my watch, but I restrain it, reminded of the watch’s impossible disappearance from the locked house. The recollection is so faint, has travelled so great a distance, that it shocks me, makes me think it might not have arrived at all. My sleep, instead of resting me, has been full of the activity of others – which has left me tired. I feel a rising anger, which comes to nothing.