Chapter 3 - Staying


We're led down a dark passage with wooden doors spaced evenly along one wall. Their latches hang at different heights, bent and rusty. Our door whines as we jiggle the padlock up and down. Kicking it, it opens.

The room is turquoise, and perfectly square. Chip marks decorate the walls, the roof is mouldy and damp. Burglar guards, tied up with string, hang loosely over a broken window. Blue silky curtains catch the breeze.


“Pipteen sousand”

“It's five thousand a room!”

“Yes. One, two, three,” he says, picking each of us off with the sight of his finger.

“Yes, but we just want one room. For everyone.”

He looks at us. I hear builders mixing cement outside. “OK, I make ten.”

“We can only do five.”

The spade is sharp between the gravel and stone.

“OK OK, add two, we make seven”. Again the business with his fingers.


He shakes his head.

“Or we leave.”

The room overlooks a pool table, where games of 'Five Ball' are hotly contested. There's always money involved. Of course there’s always money involved.

“OK, we do pive.”

Deal done we put our backpacks down. The floor is littered with burnt matches and cigarette butts, trodden flat. As our host leaves he slyly picks up an empty beer bottle belonging to a previous guest and puts it outside. I hear it roll along the concrete, then silence. Room service. His footsteps fade along the corridor. The sharp tap of cues and balls returns.

Above the unmade bed hangs a standard blue mosquito net. Tossed above it, a lacy black bra. In the corner is a white plastic chair, with only three legs, a plastic bucket and a grubby cloth. Two wooden planks with bent nails form a rough clothes hanger.

I sit on the bed and imagine the stories that hang from these hooks. Tired. My pants feel damp beneath me. I stand up and smell the bed. Stale beer. We flip the mattress and laugh. Even pive sousand is a rip off.