‘Ockroot. This is the place. This is the place you can’t seem to shut up about.’ Sadie said as she slammed the boot to the red Volkswagen beetle shut. She slung the green barrel bag over her shoulder and tapped on the back window. The sun beamed down over the parking lot and reflected off the large tortoise rimmed spectacles Sadie had left on by choice while she drove. She claimed it was always by choice that she wore them. Just as it was always a choice whether she wanted to breath or not. The grey hood to her jumper could not hide the long ashy blonde waves of hair from swaying in the wind. A new place with the same assholes. She was sure all these middle of nowhere towns were the same. The locals sat at their local diner eating the local livestock fucking their neighbours. They would give a cold stare at the sight of her silver septum piercing. Scowl at the fraying denim cut-off jeans and lightning bolt yellow t-shirt. Linger on the fleshy pale legs and bristled armpits she had forgotten to shave while on the road trip to this town of turds. Only a town her father would move to must welcome strangers with such questionable character.
Dolby was twisting the volume higher to the beginning drum beat of “A View To A Kill” by Duran Duran.
Meeting you with a view to a kill. Face to face in secret places feel the chill.
‘This place is home to the best root beer floats. That’s what I’ve been told. What’s not to love when it involves sugar.’ Dolby felt her teeth itch, deep in the root, when she began to crave the taste of something sweet. The sticky sugar glaze remnants smeared over her fingers from chewing the dough. The lashing of liquorice wrapping around her tongue. A great bubbling of root beer encircling the floating vanilla scoop of icecream. Dolby would contemplate how she would commit murder to get her fix. Yet sitting there in the seat, feeling her legs peel from the leather, she couldn’t stop herself from gazing at Sadie. Soaking in the thick stretch of muscle running over her thighs downwards to the delicate opening at the back of her knees. Dolby chastised herself yet continued to look as if she was waiting for something. Was it the thrill of secretly watching her best friend? That inner dare to linger as long as possible. To capture every detail. Every fray of the cut off jeans tickling the upper thigh. Each long streak of sweat trickling down open skin. “You’re a pervert. A rotten pervert…” Some part of her repeated again and again. “Just wait though… Wait until our eyes meet.”
‘Hurry up Dolby. We have to check into the hotel before we can go meet my dad at the café.’
Dolby adjusted the dungaree straps and stuffed the remainder of her clothes into a backpack. Locking the car they strode across the quiet parking lot. As the sunlight crawled down the front of the building Dolby was caught by the words of her Architecture lecturer.
“Architecture is inhabited sculptures.” She was sure those words had been spoken a countless times or presented in the opening slide of a first-years presentation – yet she found them claw into her mind. Quotes were often spouted by the dull but Nesbo had put such passion into those four words Dolby couldn’t help being moved. Perhaps it was more the idea of “inhabited sculptures” that resonated inside her. These towering obelisks pregnant with children. Like an old god; a building could live on through the tide of generations scurrying throughout it.
A plaque near the hotel entrance stated that it was based, in honour, of the original hotel situated in England. Dolby squinted at the sign and wondered at which point the owners had given up trying to keep it to the same design. The front of the building retained the chunky English charm of red brick outlined with a white archway and window frames. Along the windowsills lay clusters of white blossomed flowers and hanging ivy. Yet this charm at the front gave way to a bloated renovation enveloping it. Like a bloated corpse wearing a dolls mask the front could not hide the modern renovations made.
The white flowers were inside too. Bundled over tables and the hotel desk. Dolby followed behind Sadie, trying her best not to gaze down for too long. Sadie rang the bell and a large lady appeared from behind the curtain. Dolby could feel the wind rush forth from several fans the lady was using to cool herself. To say she was large would be to allude she was fat. But large was all Doby could think of to describe the muscular woman. A middle-aged lady, tanned with her mustard blonde hair pulled back. The black and white vest strained to contain her physique; stretching to contain the hard ridges of her shoulders and chest.
‘Oh my, look at you two darlings. Bone-a-fide models. My name’s Maria and welcome to Ockroot.’ There was an accent Dolby couldn’t quite catch. Eastern European with a twang of americana possibly. The ladies positivity to welcome them was refreshing. Dolby was almost worried the lady would grab hold both of them for a hug and squeeze the life from them.
‘We booked a room here. Under Sadie Mapel.’ Sadie replied. Maria tapped a few keys onto the computer keyboard beside her.
‘Ofcourse, there you are. Well please take these…’ She turned around, plucked two keys from the wall behind her, and handed them over.
‘Just take the stairs up to the next floor and you should find your room on the right. Breakfast is every morning at eight until ten. I’ve spoken with the chef and we now include crushed avocados on toast.’
‘That sounds delicious’ Sadie seemed as excited as Maria. The thought of eating something green smeared over toast sounded diabolical to Dolby. She had been hoping to stuff her face full on complimentary pancakes and bacon. Even snagging a croissant to eat later in the day.
‘Do you have any questions?’ Maria asked the girls.
‘Weren’t you wondering about those floaters Dolby?’ Sadie asked. Dolby took a moment to process what Sadie meant with the term “floaters” before her eyes lit up.
‘Yes! Root beer floats. I read this place is famous for them – Do you know where I can try the best?’
‘The syrup and icecream thing? I can’t say I’ve ever tried it. I stay away from most sugars if I can; whether they are frozen, liquid, or have a sparkler stuck in them. You could try the Smoked Stack for that sort of thing. It’s in the center of town.’
‘I’ll get my dad to meet us there.’ Sadie said.
‘Let’s go drop our things off then.’ Dolby said before thanking Maria and picking up her bag. Moving through the lobby Dolby noticed some other guests in the hotel. Several men were sat in their business suits around a table with half-filled sparkling waters. She could feel one or two of the old men trying to catch hers and Sadies gaze. Coming down from the stairway Dolby saw an old lady being helped down the stairs by her grandson. Taking her time to step down, she held onto the young man by his arm. He waited dotingly for her to move. There was something about the old lady that caught Dolby’s gaze. She was not sure whether it was the funeral attire or the glossy shine to her pale right eye. She paused over each step, waiting a beat or two before stepping down.
After passing through the first floor corridor they found their room at the end. Dolby noticed the “do not disturb” sign hanging from the door opposite theirs. Beside the door were several pieces of paper. As Sadie fumbled with the key Dolby moved to the door opposite. Kneeling down she saw that the pieces of white paper were in fact wrinkled petals. It seemed bizarre at first to find them separated from the flower. She recalled the time she walked into her garden two months ago and discovering the remnants of a bird being killed. A streak of blood and burst of feathers shaking in the low breeze near the decking. Only a trace of what could have been lingered, yet instead of the passing sadness of a dead bird these petals promised romance.
‘Dolby, what are you doing?’ Sadie asked as she saw noticed the girl kneeling down beside the door with her ear to the wood.
‘I’m trying to listen…to see if they are still at it.’ Dolby replied, curious to hear what sordid acts the couple on the other side of the door were committing.
‘Eugh.’ Sadie moaned and clicked open their rooms door with enough calculated strength to have the door swing into the wall with a loud bang. Dolby fell back and recovered herself in fear of their neighbours coming to check what the noise was.
‘C’mon perv we have to drop our stuff off and meet my dad.’