A large blonde woman in her late twenties is sitting at the bar, talking ceaselessly at the barman. She’s been introduced as the niece of the man to her right, a middle-aged, camp and vertically challenged gentleman sporting the kind of haircut one would expect from a middle-aged, camp and vertically challenged man. A pink Mohawk, obviously.
The man looks tired. This is partly due to the constant stream of obscene commentary coming from the irritating woman at his side and partly from the fact that he’s been drinking since half past five in the afternoon; it’s now nearly half one in the morning. The barman thoughtfully eyes their almost empty vodka coke glasses and wonders if, as it’s the opening night for this particular couple at the hotel, he could get away with pretending that the bar shuts now. He thinks not. People this drunk this early will doubtless be back regularly throughout their stay and things were bound to get antsy when they find out.
“D’yoo reckon we sh’d check out the party scene in town tonight?” slurs pink haired Mohawk man, gazing in what he hopes is a non-drunken manner at the bored young man behind the bar.
“Well, to be honest, if you want to ski tomorrow then maybe a relatively early night would be a good idea.”
The blonde girl pipes up: “Ah yeh, that’s true . . . but I do need fags still. Hey, you got any behind the bar? That’d be really great, I really need one. Right now. Those Swiss blokes only gave us a couple each, stingy dicks.”
The barman tries his best not to sound exasperated as he reiterates his inability to sell them cigarettes for the twenty-fourth time since he began work ninety minutes ago. He has just repeated word-for-word his reply from the last time she asked but neither of them appear to notice and frankly, he’s beyond caring.
“Really? None in the bar at all?” queries Mohawk, his slightly red eyes wide with disbelief. “You sure? Absaludely sure?”
The barman fails to understand how Mohawk can be that incredulous each time the same thing is repeated. He’d understand if he was working in a psychiatric ward, but this is a hotel. Their amnesia is entirely self-inflicted. He contemplates his array of replies and chooses one he thinks is particularly poignant. “Yes. I’m sure.”
The pair are briefly silent while their alcohol-hindered synapses attempt to transmit this ‘new’ information. If someone was listening carefully, they would hear the sound of brains struggling to tick over, cogs failing to whirl while mired in vodka concoctions. Pink haired Mohawk man breaks loose from the barstool he’s been perched on for much of the evening. He seems pleased to have managed such a capable descent. “Right, my dear, lessgo to bed. The man has failed us on the fag front.”
His dear rolls her eyes and lifts a disappointed lip. “Fine,” she says, looking round. “Wait, where’s my black handbag?”
Mohawk bursts out laughing, clutching his sides and only just avoiding spilling the remainder of his drink on the wooden floor.
“You never took it down here!” he guffaws, looking to the barman to back him up. “Didn’ I tell her earlier, mate?”
Quite a few times actually, mate. “Yes you did, sir. I imagine it’s still up in your room.” The woman is angry, glaring. Some people don’t do embarrassed. She was clearly one of them.
“Oh, fuck you!” she yells at her so-called uncle.
“Ha! Well, my dear, you were the one who asked!” Pink Mohawk laughs and promptly drains his glass. He turns from the bar and stumbles down the corridor, the woman stomping after him.
The barman sighs, runs his hands through his hair and walks after them. At the end of the corridor, Mohawk is leaning against a wall fiddling with his room key and looking confused. Blondie looks non-plussed.
“Sorry, your room is on the first floor. Just up from here.”
The blonde woman shoots him a deathly look. “I know!”
“Okay, erm, good. Well, the stairs are back there. By the bar. You can’t miss them.” The barman returns to his work-place and resumes his nightly clean-up.
The couple lurch past and this time go through the correct set of doors, Mohawk skimming the frame on his way through. The blonde woman’s face reappears. “You got any fags?”
The barman sadly shakes his head, sorry not to be able to help such a delightful customer. As he begins to wipe down the surfaces he thanks his lucky stars that they’re only there for a few days and not the normal week-long visit.
One shift with them down, only a few more to go.
Forty-five minutes later there’s a knock on the door of the hotel. The barman unlocks it to welcome in a middle-aged, camp, vertically challenged Mohawk man and the blonde woman the other guests come to refer to as ‘the Paid-for Companion’. They meander unceremoniously past him.
They weren’t alone.
“Bonsoir, monsieur,” begins the policeman, flanked by two colleagues. “I’m afraid we found these two on the piste. Drunk. In their car.”
The barman remains passive. “Of course you did.”