“One might even argue that if an animal could choose with intelligence, it would opt for living in a zoo, since the major difference between a zoo and the wild is the absence of parasites and enemies and the abundance of food in the first, and their respective abundance and scarcity in the second. Think about it yourself. Would you rather be put up at the Ritz with free room service and unlimited access to a doctor or be homeless without a soul to care for you?”
-Yann Martel, Life of Pi
Saturday April 5
I awoke to the delicate, almost berry-like aroma of caviar. Someone here understands life. Breakfast must be hearty, to strengthen you for the day, harden your resolve, not just some piddly fruit in a bowl without the heft of conviction, melon angled to jut out of the cup as though I could be fooled and believe their 5 slim slices were enough for a feast, as though I were an anorexic rabbit. Bah! Leave such tidbits for a pre-sleep bite—like the one they left me last night, on the stand, cut fresh as I checked in. Ah, truly this place is heaven.
I let the caviar burst on my tongue, sweet, salty, and oh so savoury—perfect to ready myself for a full day. But, my dear Diary, I have no more time to write; a healthy person will balance the need for self-reflection with the need for action. I go.
The door will not open. How odd. There must be some problem with the automatic lock. The phone is also dead.
No matter. These things happen. The well-prepared mind can thrive in any situation, and I am always prepared—and so, it seems, was the hotel. In the corner of the room, slightly sunken into the plush violet carpet, rests a black mini-fridge. When bringing my breakfast, room service had left meals for the day—and what meals they are! Quality may mostly be an indication of expense, true, but this hotel has not just quality, but sound judgement as well. Finger focaccia sandwiches, laden with the finest glossy, purply-black Amfissa olives and showered with bits of pure white goat’s milk feta cheese and slivers of orange-red sun-dried tomato; and when I look closely (and, Diary, you know I always do) I can see the bright pink of lobster showing through the holes of those glossy olives. These are the work of a master. I can think of no better mid-day meal. The olives give that burst of energy to counter the mid-day slump while the bread, cheese, and meat digest through the day, and keep your brain firing and your body moving until supper. And what a supper! A perfectly-formed cornish hen, all breast, its skin lightly glazed and its flesh so tender that you know the butter was expertly dispersed beneath the skin, and, yes, Diary, it is stuffed with those delightfully novel and marbled pecan truffles.
With food like this, I could remain in this room for the rest of my life! I have my books, and I have my papers; when I leave, I will walk into the sunlight refreshed. A reflective man can have no better tools to master himself and his surroundings. Diary, I will return to you tomorrow a better man.
Sunday April 6
Ah, Diary, truly the staff here are a wonder of diligence and care. I awoke again to the aura of caviar filling my body and buttressing my emerging consciousness with desire for that subtle gush of flavour, but, as I arose, my eyes settled on the folded note placed next to the laden silver plate. The note profusely expressed the hotel’s sincerest apologies for my inability to leave yesterday, and indicated that not only was my current sojourn here to be free of charge, but that any future stays would also be complimentary. Ah, such service! Diary, if the world were run as this hotel, how could anyone mind the occasional hiccup on their journey of life? Such disturbances as the one yesterday would be mere fodder for a jolly laugh, and never any displeasure.
But the city calls, Diary. Forgive me for leaving you so soon, but I believe you understand.
Again, the door opens not. I do not understand. But, Diary, I am true to my word; this bizarre happenstance causes me to only laugh with joy. How could I be distressed by another day in this paradise, resting in this luxurious armchair, my feet caressed by this plush carpet and my tongue delighted by this lavish food? This is truly the life of the Gods.
Monday April 7
I begin to suspect that the management here is incompetent. While I can in no way fault the furnishing nor the cleaning staff—the suite was immaculately cleaned during the night, the caviar as fresh as ever, and the furniture refreshed so it feels as though it were untouched by human hand until I brush my fingers against its yielding silken flesh—this morning I awoke to another folded note. Dear Sir, it said, and I will not trouble you with the rest. Suffice to say that despite its profuse apologies and exhortations that this new card they have provided has been extensively tested and is most assuredly going to work, I cannot leave. I cannot leave! Even a thinking man can only take so much abuse from incompetence before he loses his nerve!
I must be calm. I am calm. What do I do now, now that I am calm? I wait for room service. For they enter and leave during the night. They must have some means of opening that damn door. I will wrest it from them if I must! I will lie in wait for them. And when that door opens I will seize them and give them my card and see how they fare when they are stuck in this room while others come and go as though to taunt me, plying me with food and drink as though I were some cheap whore, satisfied to give my life away for a few hedonisms, as though caviar and truffles can make up for this personal affront!
Diary, I am sorry. I have disgraced myself to you. My reaction was wholly uncalled for. I still have more thinking to do, and more writing to do, and this suite could not be better suited. Food and books at my fingertips, and my body in such comfort that I lose any sense of it aside from the subtle pleasure that ease brings to all things. In fact, this stay, frustrating as it is, could be very beneficial to me. When else have I had such opportunity to do nothing but better myself? I can be confident that, when this is over, I will be better able to endure hardship with composure and dignity, and with the depth of thought that comes from prolonged reflection.
Nevertheless, my plan—though, I admit, formulated in haste and frustration—seems sensible. I will not retire to my chamber tonight, but continue working here until the staff come in the night to freshen the suite. Then I will explain the situation, and remain by them until I am satisfied that I have may leave and come as I wish.
Tuesday April 8
Tomorrow night, I will not use the washroom. There are glasses here; I will use them if need be! I will brown the carpet and leave these conniving jailers to scrub it out! I thought—no, not even thought—that I would hear them, that they would be here for more than a moment, that there would be the click of the lock or the thud of the door, and not that I would emerge with more than my hands scrubbed clean! I didn’t even notice they had come and gone til a frustrated huff brought the reek of caviar to my nostrils.
I had underestimated the cunning of these “housekeepers,” assumed them to be well-intentioned staff who had simply not been accustomed to such a bizarre circumstance as my own, but no longer! Their ways are known to me now. How could I have been so blind? How had I not realised that a hotel that oils its doors to silence would notice a broken card? It is clear, and their coming at the exact moment I was emptying my bladder leaves no doubt. Yes, I can hear them through the door, laughing at me. I will get you tomorrow. I will.
Wednesday April 9
I did not falter! I did not blink! I had installed myself in this chair and slept until nightfall to prepare myself for your arrival. My butt hardly touched the seat so tense was I! I awaited you until I could smell your nauseating caviar, its disgusting rotten raspberry fumes. Yes, I could smell it—I can smell it—how can the smell be so strong? I turned, and there it was, thousands of glaring eyes boring into me, crushing the anger welling through my body, but too weak! Too weak! My anger exploded into them with a fist, splattering the books with their black putrescence, splashes of blood from my hand soaking into the purple carpet and almost turning it black. Let the room rot from your decay, Caviar!
You know! You have known my every move from the beginning! I do not know how—cameras? holes in the paintings like some cheap thriller?—but I will tear this room apart looking for you! I will find you and beat you! I will!
Thursday April 10
How? How? The pages smushed a fetid black and the floor littered and the walls bare, and now? And now? I…
How could they, without me noticing? I
Fishy had a little egg,
Little egg, little egg,
Fishy had a little egg
Whose taste was sweet as pie.