The Trip



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I should have known it when the taxi was late. I did catch my plane to London, and circling over London for half an hour wasn’t a sure sign of anything bad. It’s more the rule than the exception. But I should definitely have known it would be one of those weeks when my suitcase caught the plane to Paris instead of London. Anyway, it was too late to cancel everything. I was already there and my suitcase did show up after all on Tuesday morning. I lost a day since some of the stuff I needed to do the job was in the case, but it was no problem to get a seat on the six o’clock plane on Thursday instead of Wednesday. Nobody flies from London to Copenhagen on a Thursday evening.

Exactly! Nobody flies to Copenhagen Thursday evening. I’ll bet you there were no technical problems—just too few passengers. It’s always due to technical problems, they say, when they cancel a plane. The reality is that they often do it because it’s cheaper to pay one night at a hotel for a few people than to fuel up a plane.

There was no reason to argue with the guy at the airline check-in desk. I mean, it wasn’t his fault, he just worked there. I was pretty much used to people taking it out on me when something wasn’t functioning the way they wanted it to, so I didn’t cause him any grief. He looked like he appreciated it. At the next desk was a woman in her mid or late twenties yelling at the poor guy there. I just left and went to the ticket counter where I could get the hotel voucher. The woman joined me shortly after, still furious about the cancellation. She waited impatiently behind me, complaining she had to queue to get a hotel room. She was apparently living too far from the airport to go home.

“How can you take it so calmly?” she asked me while the ticket clerk prepared my voucher.

“Well, these people working here are not the ones responsible for the cancellation. As long as they treat me well, I see no need to batter them.”

“Yes, but it’s just so… argh.”

“We’ll just have to make the best of it,” I said and turned to look at the woman behind the desk. “Now, I’m sure we’ll get money for a cab to the hotel, so we don’t have to carry our heavy suitcases and then we can have a nice dinner at the hotel restaurant.”

The ticket clerk looked up at me, smiling. She had clearly heard what I said and there was really no way she could avoid giving us the cab fare. Normally, they didn’t give a damn about how you got to the hotel, since it was next to the airport, but I knew the small tricks of the trade. It was a really hot evening and there was thunder in the air. You know the feeling: hot, heavy humid air all around you, like a blanket.

We shared a cab to the hotel, which was a few minutes from the airport. Now, you might think you know what this was leading to, but there were no such thoughts in my mind. I love my wife, really, and just the thought of a little adultery could make me scared. I mean, either you suddenly have a jealous woman threatening to tell your wife if you don’t break up the marriage immediately and marry her or you get the clap or something worse. So no, I wasn’t even considering it.

We checked in and everything was okay, until the receptionist asked us whether we needed two keys.

“I’m sorry, you seem to have misunderstood. We are not together. We need separate rooms,” I answered politely.

“Ehh… I think we have a problem then. You see, there is a conference at the hotel and we are fully booked. If you’re not going to share a room, one of you will have to go back and get a voucher for another hotel.”

My female companion immediately blew a fuse.

“What? First our flight is cancelled and now you haven’t got a room…” I put a hand on her shoulder to stop her.

“My good man,” I said quietly. “Our flight has been cancelled and we need to be in the airport to catch the first flight tomorrow morning. If I have to go back, get another voucher, go into town and check in, it will hardly be worth the effort. I’ll have to get up before I go to bed. Now, we need two rooms and it can’t be impossible in a hotel this size.”

I was still calm, but my patience was beginning to run out too.

“I’ll tell you what we’ll do,” I continued. “Now, we’ll put our luggage in the room you have found and then we’ll eat a nice dinner. When we’ve finished eating, you’ll have found an extra room for us, okay?”

“I’m sorry sir, but I don’t think I can.”

“Sure you can.”

“I’ll see what I can do, but I can’t promise you anything.”

He didn’t look too pleased with the situation, but I had tried something like this before and usually they would come up with something. I was soon to realise that my troubles weren’t over yet. You know, it really was one of those weeks where I should have stayed in bed on Monday.

When I opened the door to the room, I was almost knocked over by a heat wave.

My God, they have booked us in the hotel sauna, I said to myself. It was 27 degrees C outside, but this room was facing south and had been heated to well over Maltepe Escort 30 C by the sun. I went inside, found the switch to the air conditioning, and turned the dial to full power. We dropped the suitcases and got out of there as fast as possible.

It was now a couple of hours since we’d stood at the check-in desk at the airport. The time was a little past seven and the restaurant was reasonably empty. We got a nice table. We didn’t even discuss it, it was just natural to eat together.

“Now, what should we have,” I said out loud, mostly to myself.

“I don’t know what you are having,” she said, “but I’m fairly hungry, so I’ll have a complete three-course menu, starting with the smoked salmon on toast and steak for the main course. I’ll decide on dessert later. By the way, I’m Sofie. What’s your name?”

“Oh, sorry. I’m Henry. Pleased to meet you.”

I quickly glanced through the menu.

“I think I’ll take the same. Since it’s the airline paying, how about a glass of champagne to accompany the salmon and a bottle of red for the steak. I think the 1982 St. Emillion looks like it’s worth drinking.”

“I better leave that to you. You sound like you know a lot more about it than I do. I guess you go to fancy restaurants often. Do you travel a lot?”

“No, not really. And I usually travel alone. I rarely bother to go to a restaurant when I’m by myself. It’s so boring to eat alone, so I just grab a sandwich or something.”

“What do you do?”

“Well, I install and maintain a computer system specially designed for advertising companies. Sometimes I visit the customer to update their system. It’s not really necessary to do it on the spot. Most of it can be done remotely, but my boss seems to think we need to be visible to the customer. If we just update their system remotely they don’t think they are getting anything.”

“Sounds interesting.”

“It isn’t really. Computers are boring in the long run and hotels and airports begin to look alike after a while.”

“Beats working in a bank, I can tell you. I never get to go anywhere unless I pay myself. And then they cancel my flight. Just think if I had booked a hotel in Copenhagen. I would’ve had to pay for that anyway.”

“When you get back, you should write a letter to the airline company and complain. Ask your travel agent to send it for you. And be sure to list any expenses you’ve had. They probably won’t give you a cash refund, but maybe a gift voucher for later use,” I said, enjoying giving away some of my hard earned traveling experience.

“I might try and do that.”

“Where were you going to stay? Do you have family in Copenhagen?”

“No, one of my friends is studying there for six month. I’m going to stay with her until Sunday.”

We carried on with light dinner conversation. I learned that she was 26, she had a boyfriend, they didn’t live together but they were engaged to be married. He couldn’t get Thursday and Friday off, so he was going to join her on Saturday. I told her she was having dinner with a 40 years old father of two, happily married for fifteen years. Just for the record, it is fifteen years with the same woman, which is a bit of an exception nowadays—at least judging from friends and colleagues.

I also had time to get a better look at her. She looked fairly average. I mean, she was pretty, but not anything like a model. Something like 5’5” or maybe 5’6”. She was wearing a long, loose T-shirt, which made it hard to tell what her figure was like. She didn’t look fat, but she was definitely not extremely thin. Her hair was brownish, cut short, and only just covered her ears. She wasn’t wearing any makeup, as far as I could see, and in my opinion she didn’t need to. Her eyes were big and brown, her eyelashes very long, and her lips pale red.

I felt flirtatious like I hadn’t felt in years, maybe even a little in love. I was thinking about a story I could put her into, to sort of keep her for more than this dinner, when she interrupted my thoughts.

“Does something like this often happen to you?”

“What do you mean, a cancelled flight?”


“Well, this week has been really bad. I wouldn’t even have thought it possible, if I were to write about something like that.”

“You write?” She asked, very interested.

“No, not really,” I said and tried to change the subject, telling her about my perfect week. She forgot about the writing and laughed about my vivid description of my somewhat chaotic week.

We were well into the main course and had almost finished the bottle of red St. Emilion, when she suddenly remembered the writing.

“So, what do you write?”

“Nothing, really. It’s just for fun.”

“I’ve met a lot of people who were going to write the novel of the year and then quit their job and live off the royalties, but I don’t think I ever met one who actually started writing. Do you dream about doing it for a living too?”

“No… well to be honest, I guess I do. All writers do. But the difficult thing isn’t to write the story. What is really difficult Anadolu Yakası Escort is to find somebody who will buy it. It will probably never happen. There are so many people out there, writing, not just talking about it. Right now, I just do it for fun.”

“What do you write? Sci-Fi, crime, romance?”

“It’s nothing, really. Just small stories.”

I didn’t really want to tell her about it, but she didn’t give up.

“Come on. Tell me about it. You are the first author I’ve met. Have you ever had anything published?”

“A book? No.”

“But isn’t it frustrating to write something nobody will ever read?”

“I didn’t say nobody ever read it.”

I was already telling her too much. Nobody knew about my little hobby and I had planned that it was going to stay that way. But maybe it was the wine that made me enjoy teasing her a little.

“What do you mean? If you haven’t published anything, how can people read it?”

“Well, I publish it on the Internet.”

“Uh. I’ve never really been on the Internet. Can you do that, I mean, publish things there? Do you get paid?”

“No, I don’t get paid. As I said, it’s only for fun.”

“But why? If you don’t get any money, what do you get? I mean, it must take a lot of time, writing.”

“I get letters and comments from people all over the world when I write something people like. It’s a great feeling to know that a lot of people like the stories I write.”

“But there aren’t that many people who can read Danish, especially not outside Denmark.”

“No, but I write in English. I know I sound very Danish, but my English is pretty good and I have a couple of nice people correcting my stories before I publish them.”

“You mean, someone is proofing your stories, and they don’t get paid either?”

Sofie looked like she didn’t believe a word of what I was saying. I guess working in a bank could lead you to think that nobody did anything except for money.

“They do a lot of work for free. And I can’t tell you why they do it, but I’m very grateful that they do.”

Sofie looked very thoughtful for a moment.

“Do you have any of your stories with you? Can I read one?”

At this point it was a little too late to stop. Yes, I could have told her I didn’t have any, but by now I was sure she wouldn’t stop before I had told her exactly what I was writing. And what the hell. She didn’t know me and we were most likely never going to meet again. If I told her the truth, she would probably be too embarrassed to ask more questions anyway.

“Well, I have some of the stories I’m working on, on my computer, but you might not like the kind of stories I write.”


“Well, they’re erotic stories. Some would call it pornography. Some people like it, others don’t. But I do have female readers.”

A moment of silence followed. Then she giggled.


“There are several reasons why. I like erotic stories myself. There are a lot of people reading them, which means there is a greater chance to get feedback. Without feedback, I’ll never become better at writing. Besides, the letters from readers are the only reward for writing in the first place, so why not write something that a lot of people read. The potential audience for surrealistic, modern poetry would probably be limited and so would the feedback,” I answered calmly.

“You don’t look like someone who writes erotic stories.” She said, blushing a little.

“Do I really look that bad? If I lost fifteen pounds, I’d be the same weight as when I was eighteen and there are only a few grey—okay, there are some grey hairs.”

“No, it’s not that… but I’ve never… I don’t know what I had expected.”

“Well, never judge a book by its cover.”

“No, I guess not. Can I read one?”

“I don’t know. I have never been this close to a person who has read my stories. Nobody knows I’m writing them.” I was suddenly terribly embarrassed. I was so used to hiding behind a pseudonym.

“Please,” Sofie said, pleading with her eyes as well as her words.

“I’ll think about it. But don’t say I didn’t warn you,” I said, mainly to hide my own embarrassment, I guess.

We finished dinner and had a cup of coffee before we went back to the reception desk. I didn’t get a chance to ask the clerk about the room.

“I’m sorry sir, but there isn’t a single room available,” he said as soon as he saw us.

“Do you really mean to tell me that you want me to go back to the airport to get another hotel? I may as well sleep in the lobby.”

“Well, I can get you a room at a hotel near Russell Square. There’s also a Forte Crest hotel and they have a room for you. We will pay the cab. It’s in Camden.”

Sofie pulled me away from the desk. “I don’t mind sharing the room,” she whispered to me. “There were two beds and it’s only for one night. You don’t have to go into the city because of me.”

Now, when we first met, I wasn’t thinking about adultery at all, but the conversation at dinner had sort of opened my mind to the possibility of more than just a dinner İstanbul Escort together. Not only did the thought cross my mind, I also began wondering if Sofie was walking down the same lanes in her mind.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Besides, I want to read one of your stories. Do we have a deal?”


“Free choice of story?”

“You drive a hard bargain,” I laughed. “Okay, I certainly would like to avoid going into town at this hour, just to get up at five.”

I returned to the clerk. “We’ll share the room.”

“Oh, good,” he sighed and smiled with relief.

His trouble wasn’t over yet and neither was ours. When I opened the door to the room, I was once again met by a heat wave. I checked the air conditioner and it looked and sounded as if it was running at full speed.

“Oh Goddammit!! The air conditioner is out of order. Just when we need it the most.”

I was seriously about to lose my temper now.

“Let’s open a window,” Sofie brilliantly suggested.

But it was no use. The windows didn’t open. In any other English hotel, the windows would be fitted as if they were round windows put in square holes. I mean, try visiting London in the wintertime and you’ll be blown over by the cold draft from the windows. The English think they live in a subtropical climate or maybe they never really realised they had come back from India. They even have the plumbing on the outside of the house. Okay, it’s easier to get to, when you need to melt the ice in the pipes, but honestly.

I tried hard to control my temper and reserve the upcoming storm for the hotel staff.

“Sofie, why don’t you read a story while I go down to the reception and strangle the manager. I’ll show you where to find them.”

I took out my laptop and showed her which directory the stories were in. She dropped down on the bed and began looking at the stories while I went down to the reception. I could see from the look on his face: he already knew.

“The air conditioner.” I said calmly.

“Ehhh yes. I’m terribly sorry, sir. There is a problem, but we can’t get it fixed until tomorrow.”

“It is very hot in that room and I can’t seem to open the window. The handle is missing. Could you get me a handle or something, so I can open the window?”

“I’m sorry, but you can’t open the window. That would disturb the air conditioning.”

That was it. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. “But the bloody air conditioner doesn’t work anyhow.” I yelled at him.

“Ehhh no. I’m sorry. Yes… but it’s not possible to open the window. Sorry.”

I was about to say a lot of things, fast and loud, but I gave up.

“Okay. Well, I’m not paying the bill, so I think I will just throw the television through the window. That should open it.” I said sarcastically.

The clerk looked at me, terrified. “Oh no, sir. Somebody might get hurt.”

I couldn’t help laughing. “My good man. Do you honestly believe that I would throw a TV out of the window from the 9th floor?”

“Well, sir. We meet all kinds of people from all walks of life. You’d be amazed if you knew what people do. I assure you, it’s nothing personal. We just have to take everything our customers say seriously.”

“Okay, I promise. No TV through the window. But I might seriously consider filling the tub with ice.”

“There is an ice machine down the corridor to the left on your floor, sir” He answered, without as much as raising an eyebrow. This guy really didn’t have any sense of humour at all.

When I returned, Sofie was still lying on her tummy, reading. She must have been used to the heat. My shirt was soaked in sweat, but she seemed to be dry. She didn’t react when I told her there was nothing to do about the heat. She just nodded and kept on reading. I wondered what she had found. She obviously was very occupied by it and was a fast reader. Her eyes scanned down over the screen fairly fast.

I looked at my soaked shirt and decided that a shower would be the optimal thing for me. I told her and she nodded again without taking her eyes off the screen.

It was great to get a long, cooling shower and I felt like a new man when I got out. The room almost felt cooler when I came out with a towel around the waist. I had only just gotten out of the bathroom when there was a knock on the door. I opened the door as a reflex, not considering the dress code in such a situation. Outside was a nice, young woman in hotel uniform staring timidly at me.

“Eh… Sorry to disturb you… I mean… With compliments from the hotel.” She handed me a tray with a bottle of champagne in a cooler and two tall glasses.

“Well, thank you.”

“Sorry to disturbed you,” she said as she backed away quickly, blushing fiercely.

“Not at all. I had just finished showering,” I said, but she was already gone.

Sofie tore herself away from the screen. “What was that?” she said and looked at me. “What are you up to?”

“Well, as I told you, I took a shower. I usually shower without clothes. It seems to be a more effective way of getting clean. Room Service knocked on the door before I had the chance to slip into something more formal. They brought us this nice bottle of champagne free of charge. Whatever the story makes you think, I can assure you that my stories are fantasies and nothing else. It’s not an autobiography.”

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