Permanent Guest

‘I’m just a normal person, doing very normal things’, I loudly inform anyone who might be listening. ‘Very normal indeed, normal in every respect, only ever interested in doing normal things…’


‘Only ever normal,’ I think to myself, just in case someone is reading my mind – they often do, you know. Only ever doing very normal stuff which is of course only what we would expect. I kept up the mental chatter for a while, just to be sure. Put the psychic sniffers off the scent. Those rotten old psychic sniffers, always sniffing around, forever sniffing around.


What’s the proportion of disembodied psychic sniffers to actual human beings, I wonder? Could it actually be the case that there are more sniffers than there are human beings? Sometimes I think they are – don’t ask me why, it’s just a feeling I get. Trust your feelings, isn’t that what they say? Well, my feeling are telling me some pretty fucked-up stuff, I can tell you!


‘Only ever normal’, I mutter grumpily to myself, ‘only ever normal’. I am sitting in the Restaurant of the Normal, perusing the menu, sipping chlorinated water from a cracked and grimy glass. ‘I think I’ll order something normal’, I say to myself, after a great deal of humming and hawing. I catch the waiter’s eye – ‘I’ll have some normal stuff please’, I say to him when he comes over. He takes my order impassively, but I am aware of his utter contempt for me. He makes no secret of it, on the psychic level that is.


Days come and go in dizzying succession. I am getting older at a frightening rate it occurs to me – if I stay here much longer then I won’t be able to leave. Time passes quite rapidly in the Restaurant of the Normal, I observe intelligently. My intellectual faculties are as sharp as ever, I’m pleased to see. ‘There are no flies on me buddy boy’, I say under my breath, so that no none of the waiters can overhear me. There are six waiters to every diner here – they hover around the place malignantly, alert for any signs of abnormality.


‘There are no flies on me’, I hiss defiantly, but I’m wrong. There are flies swarming all over me. It’s as if I’m wearing a shiny black suit. It’s a very good fit too, I can’t help noticing. A damn good fit. Underneath the suit I’m quite naked, but no one notices. The waiters are too busy taking orders – they are in their element, of course.


I’m the guy in the black shiny suit sitting by himself by the window, watching the rush hour traffic build. It’s Tuesday morning. So begins another day, I tell myself. So begins another bloody day. I try to be upbeat about this but it’s hard – too many days have slipped by. Too many days, too many lost opportunities.


I’m not feeling the best, as it happens. I have a bit of a cold coming on, I realise. There’s a nasty little tickle in my throat. Although that could simply be a few flies that I had inadvertently swallowed along with a breakfast. It could be something as simple as that. Nothing to worry about at all. Another day has dawned, along with all the opportunities that this entails.


‘I’m normal’, I bark angrily, ‘I’m normal you bastards’. But I’m not, and the sniffers are onto me. They gather in their masses just outside the range of the visible. I’m happy but I’m sad, I’m full of beans but I’m depressed. I’m late for breakfast and all the food is being taken away as I sit here. I’ve overslept again. The rush hour traffic has eased by now and all the hotel guests have long since gone off about their business. Not me though – I’m still here, blearily chewing a slice of cold toast. I don’t even know how long I’ve been here, it occurs to me. I should have checked out months ago. I am a permanent guest in the Hotel of the Normal.





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