By Loubna Flah
Hotel Room 333
“I am afraid I can’t find your name on the list of bookings, could you spell it again please”
“It is DIJ O U R I”
“Last name also please”
“K HA D I J A”
“Please could you check again”.
The night has already spread its dark mantle over the city of Agadir . They reached later than expected. The train departure was delayed as expected but it was intricate to find a taxi at that time. Additionally, the hotel was 10 km far from downtown, in an underpopulated area with many construction site with the exception of few fields spared by the rampant urbanization of the city. The two friends exhaled a sigh of relief once they reached the hotel entrance at this late hour.
“We extremely apologize . The check in software is not accessible for the moment . Could you please wait a moment in the lobby while we try to sort out the issue?”
“ Does it freeze often” Khadija asked suspiciously in expectation of the receptionist answer.
“Well, it does at times” the receptionist With an irritated smile while scrutinizing the screen.
They walked to the lobby. The creamy beige leather sofa looked to the point along with the beige marbled floor. They collapsed on the sofa that was as stylish as comfortable, keeping an eye on the receptionist who was making a Call. Some hotel guests came in and she got busy with them. At some point Khadija and Lilia harbored the thought that the receptionist had forgotten about them. They looked at each other in frustration when the hotel butler came for behind.
“Sorry to interrupt you. Could you fill in these check in information. The receptionist found your names and your hotel room is number 332”.
It was not far from the reception, maybe one of the closest ones but it was on the first floor. At the image of the lobby, the corridor had a Moroccan designer touch. The black wooden doors were carved in a colorful mosaic patterns. The knobs were in a Golden metal reminiscent of imperial cities gates. The light was dim, the lamps on the wall were bashfully hidden behind a metallic carved in Arabic arabesque allowing the thin rays to slide gracefully through the triangles, squares and the circles in the design. The fading light triggered feeling of an exotic mystery , foreshadowing an adventure from ancestral times. The corridor looked more like endless alleys in a Sultan palace leading up to a large court room.
The room was at the extreme end of that long corridor. The room was the last one before the visitor could have access to a large circular balcony that offered an opening looking down to the ground floor. The light in the silver door knob clicked in red, the door opened. A double bed room average size but furnished in a mishmash between tradition and modernity. Though it was not a spacious room but it was cozy enough to make you want to relish a under the sheets for a whole evening. The balcony looked on the backside of the hotel. One could see the unfinished mansions around; a large construction site was abandoned for the time being. They were expecting an enchanting view looking either on the blue watered swimming pool. To their surprise, the room had a dull view but the presence of the sun gave them some solace.
The hunger won over the fatigue. They flavors went to the hotel restaurant and ordered a chicken barbecue. They feasted on the dish and exchanged flavors along a cozy discussion. The sun rays slid nonchalantly along their shoulders through the Arabesque of the wooden ceiling. The warm sunrays flowed through each square, triangle, circle in the wooden mosaic. Their shadow stretched on the floor forming elongated shapes, almost distorted optical illusion that gave more warmth to the place. They sat there elated by them yellow warmth of North African convivial sun. There pending issues they had sought to discuss amid other reporting of the trips details. There was note nough privacy to talk about their heart affairs and the fatigue became extremely overwhelming.
The late evening was quite in the resort before they started to hear the sound of music and someone talking on the loudspeaker.
“I think they are throwing a party for the hotel guests. I would love to have a look”. Said Lilia. They dressed warmly because it was an open-air party. They sat on the edge of a stone stairs that was reminiscent of the Athenian auditorium. The view was exquisite and the loud music instilled energy in their veins.
“It is bit chilling in here. I think I will get my jacket from the room,” said Khadija.
Few minutes after, Lilia got a phone call and fled the auditorium searching for a quaint place where she could hear her lover’s voice. Khadija searched for her, called her but the line was busy. Lilia roamed in the dim lighted lanes among the bushy woods inside the resort almost unaware of her steps.
At the turn of the corridor, stretching her steps and exuding a coquettish attitude, releasing playful laughs. Her enticing voice could easily suggest the level of closeness with her interlocutor. The intimacy of the discussion was overwhelmingly feverish moving her whole being. She loathed the distance that kept her apart from her beloved for almost 2 months. Their sole solace was the endearing moments they shared on the phone.
“I will stop talking now, someone is passing by.”
“Lilia? Lilia are you there?’
Her voice was suspended for a moment, silence flew to the other side of the line like an uninvited guest.
“Where are you, don’t make me miss you even more. That goes beyond my capacity” adding in a flirtatious tone”
“I am sorry. That man looks really suspicious”
“He just passed me by then ran away swiftly and disappeared like a ghost. There was a relatively small bag. I am not sure. See how you can be distracting” Lilia muttered.
“He is probably excited to join the party. You are being distrustful. That’s all”.
“Maybe , but he was startled when we saw me. He paused for a moment before resuming his walk. Anyway I need to go downstairs. Khadija is waiting”
The call ended on a strange note. All of sudden, a familiar face appeared to her.
“What are you doing here?” she said in shock.
“I needed to talk to you. I had no patience to wait until you finish your holiday. I have some business here too.”
Lilia said in total disbelief “Imad, we broke our engagement a year ago. Are you in all your senses?
She was thinking to herself “He is really a stalker”
“You should leave now”
He drew her forcibly close to him trying to whisper something “I miss you , I don’t understand what has taking over me”
*She shouted “Help help”
Lila was well aware of that trap phase, when he tries to soften her heart and show graceful manners just to enclose her back in the cycle of emotional turmoil once again whe he can feel in control. He walked away without saying anything.
The next morning, the two girls were awakened by a loud bang on the door.
Soaked in her pajamas, Lilia was startled and jumped to open the door.
“Sorry to awaken you. Last night there was a robbery in room 333. Witnesses saw you roaming around late in the evening. I need to search you room right now.”
I don’t understand” she mumbled half awake
“What? Robbery? what was stolen? “wait a minute are you accusing me?
“A diamond watch and cash “
Khadija joined to try to grasp what was being said.
That’s impossible Officer. Lilia was with me in the welcome party.
“You are sure he has stayed there all the time? “
“Yes, well she left to answer a phone call. I guess; But she came back after …”
“After how long? “
“Not much time, maybe half an hour” Khadija replied
The officer drew a smirk on his face “Well half an hour is not always just a short time.”
He searched the cupboard and the half unpacked suitcase, the drawers but found nothing.
The officer asked, “Miss Lilia what were you wearing last night? “
“Me, I don’t remember. Well I think I was wearing a green parka. It was cool outside.
“Where is your jacket ?“
She said in a confused tone, turning pale as pale like the moon. “ It must be somewhere here. I was so exhausted yesterday.”
The officer said “Miss Lilia, where is the jacket?”
He pushed her aside and looked underneath the bed. The jacket was there lying on the floor. He slipped in hand in the left pocket “You did not tell me you had a diamond watch as well?”