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Image by Max Bender


Michael Powers, 2019

Dolphin Bay Hotel: Work

    The rain fell in steady packets on the metal roof, matching the pattern of their sleep and even soothing them into a deeper rest in the humid hotel room.  The two lovers were connected now in the most sacred way of their era.  The ceremony, the poem, the vows, the pictures, the food, the dancing, the laughs and smiles and cries of family and friends were still fresh, but behind them now, in the rear-view mirror. A new future lay before them, exciting and bumpy, narrow and winding like the island highways they were now so familiar with.


    She slept with soundness and satisfaction, always beneath her eyelids was the current moment.  It was the jungle hike from the day with the familiar smell of pine intermixed with foreign tropical scents and rotting mangoes on the hillsides. Or it was the sweet taste of poolside drinks, the sounds of screaming, splashing children, and the wet embraces as they cooled their sandy bodies in the ocean. Or it was the overindulgence of a fine meal, the tinny sound of a ukulele through the speakers, or the deep belly laughs they shared poking fun at the strange people vacationing on the island with them.  These were the creatures she lived with in the night.

    His sleep was like the rain, torrential and intermittent. The events of the past ruminating within and the future a winged beast flying just out of reach, its distance varying just enough to cause his angst.  It was a failed social exchange, a missed opportunity in his career, or the tired feeling of indecision around where his life would go next.  And of course, the pressure of time’s constant ticking. These tiny tragedies played themselves out each night and whether he remembered them or not, he carried the burden of them each day, alone.  And so, as the rain picked up in thickness, it was he who woke to notice the changing intensity of the storm.  The storm seemed to mean something that morning as he laid in the solitude, a few hours before dawn.


    He rolled to the center of the bed, towards the window and felt her sticky warmth and the consistent rolling breaths of slumber.  His alertness contrasted the soreness in his knees and back from miles and miles of climbing and hiking and swimming.  He rose, used the bathroom and clothed himself.  The man, who relied heavily on routine, had somehow thrived the past ten days on just the opposite.  He looked upon his sleeping angel and then back over to the door, where the dim lights of the hallway were sliding through the circulation vents.  The door won that time.


    As he stepped onto the worn outdoor carpet of the hallway and gently shut the door behind him, he paused.  The steady, hypnotic sound of the rain offered a pleasant sorrow as it pounded on asphalt and plunked off windshields before sliding around the bodies of the cars and to the ground.  A parked car never stirs in its sleep, he thought. It simply rests without worry, night after night. Why can’t I live without such restlessness?  Let it pass through, like the rain, he told himself and dismissed the petty thought.  He recalled the fresh papayas and bananas in makeshift lobby of the hotel and made his way to grab a snack and calm his unsettled mind.


    “Is everything okay sir? Hopefully the rain cooled off the room for you.”


    The voice of the night manager startled him, an older man leaning back in his chair reading a thick paperback at the front desk.  He couldn’t get out a word and just stared at the man, feeling the soft ripeness of the banana in his hand.


    “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to spook you.  The rain wakes me up too. I get so excited when it rains.  You too?”


    “Yes. Something like that. I don’t know,” he stuttered and paused clumsily. “The rooms great by the way. Nice and cool now.”


    “Good to hear. Newlyweds I suppose? On the honeymoon?”


    “Yes, we are. Two weeks ago, today.” The night manager made small talk. The man hated small talk but was trapped now.


    “Thirty-five years in May,” the night manager said, lifting his hand in the air to display a thick gold ring.  His beard was scraggly and gray, and his round belly stuck out as he sat up straight in his chair. He smiled through his whole body, from his baggy old eyes all the way to his toes which lifted up and down from the ground with pride.


    “Hey congratulations. Any advice?” He asked the question and immediately regretted the impulse. He had heard every line in the book the past eighteen months, throughout their engagement and up until they left for Hawaii.


    “Well I don’t know. No one has asked me that in a while.  I suppose the usual stuff, the clichés, they’re mostly true, but I’m guessing you’ve heard all those.”


    “Hah. Yes, we have.” His ears perked up with the honesty of the man. Candor felt a lost virtue to him, and he listened more closely and with deeper respect.


    “Well I don’t know sir. If I had to, I guess I’d say try to give as much of yourself as you can, share as much of what’s going on up there as possible. We’re all strangers to each other here. Always will be. But let her pay you a visit in there when you can. You follow me?”


    “Yes. I think I do. Thank you.” The man nodded at the night manager and peeled his banana, walking back towards his room.


    His sorrow from the rain felt different that night. It seemed to have a cleansing power as the downpour died to a soft steady drip.  He looked to the cars, back to the pile of the bananas, and finally to the door of his hotel room. That old room was his home in that moment, he thought. Whatever room, whatever roof they shared was his home now. Whatever weather they sheltered themselves from, be it a calm sunny day or violent storm, it wasn’t just his now. It was theirs. He opened the door and returned to his sleeping angel.

Dolphin Bay Hotel: Text
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