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Zhang Bao let himself sink into the worn black leather sofa. Stretching he looked around the cramped room of Moscow's Hotel Lux, It's robins egg blue plaster walls crumbling, the door knob tarnished by years of day in, day out grasping of, and turning by, rough purplish hands gnarled, veined, scared hands. Large knuckled and suntanned hands. Children's and grandparents' hands, tobacco stained hands. Luscious ladies hands with cherry colored painted nails. Freckled hands. Hands that have died and hands that still live. Hands of soldiers, murderers and stenographers. Tailors, cooks, comrades and engineers, sailors, smugglers, office workers, prostitutes, bakers, butchers, builders and exiles.

Zhang's eyes flitted over the once plush deep piled carpet, now thread bare, showing signs of all of the soles of past and present leather boots and high heels and everything in between that had trod over the crimson and deep blue and gold expensive wool carpet, mashing the fabric to a ratty matted death. He glanced at the one working sconce attached to the wall. The ornamental bracket holding the fixture, grotesquely twisted as if someone tried to rip it off the wall for a souvenir long ago losing its mica shade. Zhang Bao wondered about the future of the Hotel Lux and the future of his own life.

Story by:

Jacqueline Dreager

16 January 2014