Snowcase #25 • 24 August 2007 • The SnowBlog
Jason writes software for an aerospace company. He prefers writing fiction, however, because "there's less burning wreckage to clear up if he gets it wrong." Pentecost Hotel is his first novel.
Standing at a funeral, Bill finds that, for the life of him, he can't quite remember how he got there. But he remembers the music... Pentecost Hotel
We're at a funeral. We're at a funeral and it's cold, and wet, and the rain stings like gravel and we want to go home - I want to go home. I desperately need some rest, I've been overdoing it lately. But it looks like it's far from over, and so we shuffle our feet uncomfortably as a distant voice laments the fragility of the human machine, and we stare at the gilded box as the rain pools in blobs and runs down the handles.
Ashes to ashes, mud to mud.
I notice a few sly looks in my direction and I reach for Charlotte's hand, but it's out of reach. I twist my neck against the stiff shirt collar and feel my head swell up as the blood supply is stemmed, but I can't see her under the phalanx of black umbrellas. I wish I hadn't made her come. She's never liked funerals, and now she'll be on her own, surrounded by sobbing strangers. My fault. I realise, before I straighten my neck and equalise the pressure, that I don't even know the people standing next to me. The eulogy drones on, barely audible against the drumming of the rain, so I swap my weight from one leg to the other in the squishy mud, and wonder, briefly, if I'm slowly sinking. Perhaps I'll be six feet under before the deceased, ho, ho.
God, I wish I was somewhere else.
And then I have a moment of... what's the opposite of a moment of clarity? A moment of opacity? Of confusion? The scene is frozen, like the closing shot of a cheap soap opera, and I feel as though ethereal but slightly sinister music should be playing as the cameral pans out skywards, leaving us as tiny black dots on a green background to symbolise the futility of it all. I realise that I have no idea why I'm here. I know I'm at a funeral because I'm wearing a tie, and I know that I'm grieving deeply for a dearly beloved friend because I feel a powerful but mysterious guilt. But I can't for the life of me remember who the hell it is. How did it come to this? Where did it start? I remember that, at least.
It started at the Pentecost Hotel.
The Pentecost Hotel steered its own course through time, indestructible and irreparable, towards a future foretold. It had survived the aerial bombers and municipal planners that had devastated half the city, yet fresh paint peeled unwanted from its roof, repointing was depointed, and its blocky brow refused to hide the name carved deep in the sandy stone.
In the end, all attempts to reverse or accelerate its stately decay were abandoned and, although its halcyon days had seen the gentry of Georgian society gavotte through its gilded rooms, its clientele had slowly degenerated alongside it, until now, solemn and secretive, it attracted entirely the wrong sort of person. Which is why, on a warm April morning, I shouldered my way through the battered doors and into its faded embrace. I'm home...
Author: Jason MacKing
Email: jasonmacking [at] onetel [dot] com