Monday, December 01, 2008

Season One, Episode Eight: Room Service

Markus Bentley first walked over to the beach like a customer worried about the temperature of the sea water. He just stopped from dipping his toe in the water.
He wandered around the gardens before entering the lobby. There wasn't much movement here that early, but still he hoped he wouldn't be noticed too much.
He descended to the underground shopping mall, had a look through the windows of the upscale boutiques selling bags from Fendi and Prada, watches, jewelry. Most of them weren't even open yet at his hour. There was warm lighting and cream white sofas inviting him to stay longer. This was not his environment.
Purely on a hunch, he took the elevator up. You needed an electronic room card to give the thing a destination, but he was in with a Japanese couple up to the eighth floor. He mumbled something about also having a room on the 8th and they smiled. He let them out first and turned in the opposite direction. They went left so he turned right. Luckily the hotel didn't have the system from communist countries like China and the Soviet Union where you had a babushka on every floor checking the comings and goings, Markus thought.
He didn't really care about the 8th floor. He just wanted to understand the lay of the land. At the end of the hall was the emergency exit. Markus pulled the door open with some difficulty and peered inside. Hardly any lighting in there, a good place to hide or to move about relatively unnoticed.
The 7th floor, the guard at his sister's office building had said. Markus let the door bang shut behind him and hoped there was a way out one floor lower.
There was. He shoved the door from the inside with some difficulty, but it worked. He was in the hallway of the seventh. Straight ahead, he saw the cart the room service people used to take breakfast to the rooms. He hadn't counted on that. He had thought about the cleaning crew going round the rooms to do the sheets, but that would happen much later, once the guests had been expected to complete breakfast and go out to whatever they were staying here for, meet local business people or lounge out at the pool or beach. Markus wasn't expecting anybody out in the hallways at this time.
His eyes were jumping from door to door. This was room 738 but he was looking for 714.
The breakfast cart was standing five rooms away from him when he heard the voice saying ‘You're welcome, sir.’ He jumped aside into a doorway just as the waiter came out into the hall to push his cart away. Markus pressed himself flat against the door of room 728.
The room service guy, a young Asian man, continued to what had to be room 724, Markus estimated. He looked out from his hiding place in short bursts, but didn't dare to move until the hotel employee had rung the bell at a door and moved inside with the mushroom omelet.
He advanced to 726, but he couldn't well move beyond the breakfast cart without getting himself noticed.
Fact is, he already was. Across the hallway, inside room 725, a man was watching him. Riot stepped back to what he saw as a safe distance from the door to make his phone call without Markus Bentley hearing him.
‘He's approaching your room. Get out of there, now.’
The room service guy was on the move again. Judging from his cart, he had about three more rooms to service.
Each time he entered a room, Markus slid a few doorways forward.
Room 714 had ordered breakfast too.
Saves me from having to knock, Markus thought. He waited until he heard the end of the conversation and rushed forward. With a smile, he brushed his way past the waiter and entered the room.
A middle-aged Chinese man who was losing his hair fast stood in the middle of the room with luggage at the ready. He looked queasy when he saw the intruder.
‘Do you have a name for me?’ Markus asked.

NEXT: Markus Bentley continues his quest for his sister's killers in Episode Nine, online before December 14.

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