THE NEXT NIGHT GUY
The next night guy the owner hired was a short, fat, very red-faced, extraordinarily red-faced,
beet-faced, wheezy kind of fellow who spoke with a lisp. I don’t know what his credentials were
or where he came from, nor do I know why he was hired. On the first night, he arrived two
minutes before his shift was to begin; I explained things to him and left him sitting behind the
desk while I visited with my wife-to-be and we watched the end of an old movie.
When I was leaving I went by the front desk and saw that the new night guy had his head
down on the desk and he was snoring. Since it was just a little after midnight I thought it would
be fair to the establishment to wake him up; I thought the hotel should get a little more than
an hour’s attentiveness out of anyone claiming eight hour’s work. So I stood in front of the
desk and I cleared my throat.
There was no response.
I said, “Hey.”
There was no response.
I clapped my hands and said, “Excuse me,” employing my very best imitation of an annoyed
high school girl, and there was no response.
I shouted “HEY!” with no response from that man.
I had to admire his ability to sleep so deeply. I slammed both fists down on the surface of the
desk, one on each side of his big red face, and there was no response. I began to doubt that
the heavy breathing and loud snoring which emanated from this guy were actually indications
of life. “Hey!” I shouted again and, grabbing the edge of the desk, I gave the thing a shake,
rattling it with all of my now waning, but once considerable, strength.
He looked up at me and rubbed his reddish eyes.
“They’re not paying you to sleep,” I said.
“How do you know what they’re paying me to do?”
“I’m the guy who talked to you about what’s expected of you. I’m the guy who showed you
what to do, remember? I’ve done this job myself; I know what it entails.”
He said nothing. He placed his head back down and very quickly fell into a deep sleep.
Almost a minute. That’s the time I stood there completely astonished. It was not the first time
that I thought this hotel could easily supply some clever young writer with all the elements
necessary for an endless series of seemingly contrived but utterly true bizarre tales.
On this gentleman’s second night I waited for his arrival and sometime after midnight (one
hour after he was scheduled to start) I received a phone call from him. There was music in
the background and from the sounds that reached me he held a cat upon his fat lap. I know
cats and I know what it sounds like when they bump their bony little heads against a
telephone handset, and I also know purring when I hear it.
He said, “I’m going to be late; I’m on BART and the train has broken down. So, I’m gonna be a
little late.” He arrived a little after 2.
On this gentleman’s third night, he didn’t show up at all.
The following evening, during my shift at the front desk, he called to say, “Listen to me. I want
the money you owe me sent to my home address and I want it done immediately! Otherwise,”
he warned. “I’ve been known to cause trouble.” I was digesting this in silence when he
repeated himself. “I want the money, and I want it sent here immediately!” he shouted. Then
he hung up.
I gathered from the somewhat aggressive nature of this demand that he’d been told that his
services would no longer be needed at the hotel. Which meant, once again, that unless I
stepped into the breach my dear wife-to-be would have to.
TRIAL BY GUEST
An Accurate Accounting of the Various Reasons
Why I Should Be Hung
HENRY EDWARD FOOL