Flash Fiction Challenge: The Hotel: “Amos”

Posted on March 17, 2011

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This is a response to Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge over at terribleminds.

This is slightly over the 1000 word limit, but I don’t think that constitutes the end of the world by any means. I’m not super comfortable with writing in the third person, but I gave it a shot for this story anyway. Hope you enjoy; it’s called “Amos”. It was a conceptual piece, of sorts.

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Amos was born in late January, to Jennifer O’Leary and Alexander Jeffords, as a healthy, bouncy baby boy.  His parents were overjoyed to have him; to Alexander, this was the culmination of his grasp for the American Dream, the pinnacle of his life. To Jennifer, well, she was just happy that she was able to finally conceive, having been unable to after half a year of trying.

Amos was the pride and joy of his parents. As Jennifer would later tell to her husband – heartbroken that he wasn’t present for the momentous occasion – the young boy’s first words were not “Mama”, or “Dada”, but the rather complex “’elevator”, though it was thick with the buoyant accent of a child, sounding much more like “elly-vader”.

Driving his son and wife home from his son’s fifth birthday, Alexander’s car was hit nearly head-on by another driver, who had fallen asleep at the wheel. Alexander was not killed instantly, as news pundits are so fond of describing deaths at the wheel, but died agonizingly, slowly, bleeding out before as his wife looked on in a concussive haze.

 

 

Construction on the Hotel Bethlehem had ceased. The hotel was the first building that its head architect was ever going to add to the skyline, funded by a rather wealthy individual as a pet project of sorts. The architect and investor had grown up together, and though occasionally estranged through the years, were nonetheless fast friends, and faster business partners. This must have made it particularly hard for the investor when a malcontented architect working under his friend came into work one day with a sawed-off shotgun and leveled every soul he knew.

 

 

Amos woke from his coma three months after the car crash that caused his father’s mortal coil to be shuffled off in a rather violent manner. His mother, who had only suffered a concussion and had since recovered – at least physically – from the accident, kept watch at his bedside night and day, grieving for her family’s tragedy with only the sounds of hospital machinery and dim light to keep her company. At the first cracking open of an eye from her son, and faint gasp for water, relief blossomed in her heart.

 

 

The hotel’s unfortunate incident with its first architectural crew had drawn widespread media coverage; though it had lost a very talented architect, it had gained renown in return. The hotel’s completion finished smoothly, and business exploded as soon as it opened its doors, and went smoothly for years afterwards.

 

 

Amos was what you might have considered a “popular kid” in high school; he was an incredibly talented actor, and friends with nigh-everyone in the school, teachers included. Popular though he was, he never felt close to those who surrounded him and lavished him with all the praise a growing teen could want. This didn’t concern him overmuch; he’d never been terribly interested in fostering close relationships.

 

 

As popular as the Hotel Bethlehem had become, one thing to which it was a stranger was any sort of permanent residents, as would be expected of a hotel. This changed in a rather strange way one day when a young golden retriever found its way onto the twelfth floor of the hotel. Much to the chagrin of the hotel staff, they simply could not catch this energetic little creature; they spent hours chasing the thing around the hotel, and just when they’d suspected they’d got it trapped, it seemed to disappear. Minutes later, the staff would get complaints of the presence of a very loud, very rambunctious young puppy on another floor.

 

 

Amos hounded Garth wherever he went; his affections bordering on obsessive. Garth had only recently moved into the area, and in stark contrast to Amos’s usual genial indifference, his heart shuddered and his stomach bottomed out the first time he saw the new boy.

Garth, new as he was, was hard pressed to reject the friendship that Amos immediately offered on his first day of school. It took only days for him to recognize Amos’s desire; it was hinted at in bated breath, and springing steps, bone-crushing hugs and raucous laughter, in lingering eyes and bitten lip.

 

 

It took many weeks, and a large portion of the hotel staff had given up on the cause, but eventually the golden retriever was caught. Well, perhaps not caught, per se; eventually it wandered down to the lobby and hopped in the lap of the receptionist, offering slobbery love and buoyant affection. The staff, having grown so accustomed to this animal’s presence in one way or another, decided to keep the dog around as a pet (with the owner’s permission, of course). The puppy took up frequent residence in the lobby, greeting tenants with unending vigor.

 

 

By all appearances, Garth and Amos were the perfect couple; people commented that so rarely had they seen each other that were so obviously in love with one another without it being sickening to be around. They were nigh inseparable; you never saw one without the other a rat’s tail-length away. To them, life couldn’t be any more beautiful.

 

 

But good things cannot last forever. Nearly a year after the puppy had taken residence in Hotel Bethlehem, a particularly drunk tenant, with his ne’er-do-well friends at his back, thought it would be great fun to give the dog a bath in vodka; his exact words, recalled later in trial, were “Let’s get this pooch fucked harder than Paris Hilton”.  The dog struggled as any reasonable animal would, but in its struggling, the young drunk sought only to get a better hold on the pooch, and held it down by tugging its collar under the surface of the alcohol bath they’d set up in the room’s bathroom; intoxicated as he was, he was unable to gauge time properly. The poor animal stood no chance.

 

 

Nobody saw Amos outside of class anymore. He confined himself to dark, empty corners of the school when it was in session, and to the gloom of his room at home when it wasn’t. His mother worried terribly, but was unsure what to do with this change in her son. Nobody at school felt like they knew him well enough to offer more than passing condolences, and this stopped very quickly when Amos failed to respond to people talking to him anyway.

 

 

The Hotel Bethlehem closed its doors that winter.

 

 

 

 

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Posted in: Stories