Snooping through opened luggage, lingerie on the floor, or the goopy residue on room service trays tells me only so much. I know the whole story after the lovers have gone for good, when all that’s left are their scents, invisible fumes, whiffs of the essential. More often than not, the air in here is ripe with desire. But sometimes the place is filled with a mournful stench. I’ve gotten more than one nose full of despair.

The minute I pushed my cart through the door just now, I could tell that last couple had quite a racy time. Her scent mixed with his. Like my abuela’s backyard: cilantro and wet mutt. Kind of nasty, right? But it’s a loving stink. 

Which smell is hers and which is his? Your guess is as good as mine. Fumes all over the place from those two, even behind that ugly upright chair. Their smells are never separate, which tells me what I need to know.

They don’t know how lucky they are. Or maybe they do.

When Carlos was an infant, I had to bring him to work a bunch of times. It was right after Freddy left me. Left us. I figured out a way to hide Carlos from that bitch supervisor, Roberta. I wedged his little body between stacks of towels, rolled my cart down the halls like I was pushing a pyramid of crystal goblets, each nubby carpet bump a possible disaster. Carlos slept most of the time back then, which was lucky. Thank God he stayed quiet. When I got in each room, I’d take him out and lay him in the center of the bed. This king-sized was the best, even if he woke up. I’d plop him in the center and watch him wiggle his little brown arms and legs, like an upside down beetle. So happy. Laughing like a crazy drunken fool staring up at his reflection in that porno ceiling. This bed is so huge I didn’t have to worry about him sliding off the edge. I could clean the whole place without that freaked out lump in my throat, my heart beating like a tom-tom drum, which was how it was in all the regular rooms. 

Maybe that’s why I’m so good at reading the vibe in here. Maybe I’m psychic. I have good associations with this humongous Honeymoon Suite, with its big-ass bed, giant vat of a bathtub, and embarrassing mirrored ceiling. 

So, you want to know more about that last couple? I give them two years tops. A baby will come. They’ll each love that baby with such smelly sweetness. They’ll make two new perfumes, each a blend with that baby. But this odor? This soppy dog and cilantro scent? This sexy funk? Breathe deep, my friend. This may be the last of it, right here.


About the Author: Alice Kaltman is a writer and surfer who splits her time between Brooklyn and Montauk, New York. She is the author of STAGGERWING a collection of stories from Tortoise Books. Other tales appears or are forthcoming in Hobart, Storychord, Longform Fiction, Atticus Review, Chicago Literati and Joyland. Her website is pretty. She likes Twitter more than Facebook, but trolls around both sites more than she’d like to admit.