Some of the details vary, but the place is always the same. At least, the interior is. Outside it is similar, but slightly different. Sometimes the street is very narrow, perhaps just room for two very small Euro cars and a bicycle. Brick, of course. Other times, it's a wide, concrete expanse with thick, old trees whose leaves overhang the thoroughfare. But the buildings are often similar: row houses, bistros, closely-built downtown-like structures with low roofs. This sort of setting is where the hotel always finds itself.
Externally, it is a slim facade, no larger than a door frame and a small window situated next to it. But it is flanked by what look like other close buildings, which are, in fact, a continuation of the establishment. Sometimes the little, dark, romantic restaurant is the first thing you enter through the front door, at other times it's off to the right. But it's always there, and expensive. Meals typically cost into the hundreds of dollars, and it is then that I ask the maitre d' to find my parents.
They aren't my real parents. Lewis and Sally do not appear. Neither does anyone else claiming to be my parents. Things move along before they arrive. But when the bill comes, and the realization dawns that I cannot afford it, the vision that pops into my head of these parental figures is of two rather nondescript people. I know that they will settle things with the restaurant, and I depart up the stairs, sometimes to the bed chamber of a woman I know to be a prostitute. Don't ask me why this occurs. It is a mystery as yet unsolved.
Is the hotel a brothel? Sometimes it would appear to be, at other times not. Its walls are always papered in some sort of fancy red velvet, adorned with paintings that seem very old. There is electricity, but candles are also in use. The lobby is large in its volume, but not what one would describe as grand. A central, wooden staircase with red plush carpeting looms over everything. The front desk man, the maitre d', and any other staff that may appear all look the same: slim, early-middle-aged men with pencil-thin moustaches and short hair that looks to be clamped down with Brylcreem. They are polite, but lacking in personality.
I return to the hotel on several occasions. Who knows when the next one will be? Despite its oddities, exorbitant prices, and ever-changing street scape, I enjoy the trips to the mysterious hotel with the red velvet walls and automaton staff. It entered my thoughts last night as I lay in bed, but it never materialized during the course of the night. I sometimes wonder if it will ever appear in reality, a place made real by prophecy?