Delusions Part 3
Hurt, broken, confused, I pulled into the nearest gas station with an ATM. If I ignored Brittney and Mike, I knew they would feel the pain of their actions. But my father, however, was a gruffer breed. He didn’t feel emotion or understand the concept of regret and sorrow. The only thing he could comprehend was financial loss or gain.
I stalked through the gas station and went to the ATM. I pulled out the card my father had given me in case of an emergency. With malice, I withdrew the maximum daily limit. I had no idea what I was going to do with the money. When my father receives the notification that I withdrew all the money, he wouldn’t be in as much pain as I was. I filled up the car and continued driving south. Comprehending how my life became one colossal cluster-fuck was beyond me. By the time I reached Los Angeles, I was beyond exhausted. I decided I would hide out in the biggest and most expensive room at the Roosevelt Hotel.
The antiquated integrity of the hotel was the first thing that hit me as I walked through the doors. The grandiose decorations screamed old Hollywood and made me feel right at home. Opened in 1927, the Roosevelt Hotel had housed the world’s greatest stars. They, too, suffered great heartaches and epic disappointments in silence as I did. I walked to the front desk with my head held high, giving off a confident air that I didn’t have at the moment. I didn’t want there to be any questions about my age or my ability to pay.
“Welcome to the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel. My name is Jason. How may I assist you this evening?” the peppy blonde with emerald, green eyes greeted me as I stepped toward his terminal.
“I want one of the biggest rooms that you have here for an entire week’s stay,” I said with a flip of my curly hair and a bat of long full lashes. My parents taught me you could get anything if you acted as if money was no object and you were confident.
Jason looked at me suspiciously for a moment. Asserting the seriousness of my request, I stared back. Once he realized I wasn’t wavering, he returned to the preppy young man who greeted me.
“Harper, Ryan Harper.”
“Yes, Ms. Harper, we have two rooms that match your specific request. The first is the Gable Lombard Penthouse. Then there is the Marilyn Monroe Suite. Ms. Monroe resided here during the height of her modeling career. I prefer the Monroe Suite. It overlooks the pool and is cozy. The Gable Lombard Penthouse is lavish but lacks a personal quality. We often rent this room for private soirees. The Monroe Suite more suits those who are seeking solitude.”
“And are the rumors about the Monroe Suite true?” I asked with a raised eyebrow. “Or are they tall tales to attract tourists?”
I talked down about the hotel. My mother taught me less interested you seem, the more hoops the salesperson will go through. I began to feel sick to my stomach. It was as if a bolt of lightning had struck me. Desperate to rid myself of personal connection with the people who hurt me, it occurred to me they would always be a part of me. This was a realization that I couldn’t bear to deal with. So, I pushed it out of the forefront of my mind.
“Ms. Harper, I assure you that this hotel does not need to perpetuate rumors of ghosts to secure business. The name alone is enough,” Jason spouted off like a man brainwashed with company pride. He genuinely believed what he was saying. When he noticed my air of indifference, he decided to take a different approach.
“I have seen her twice within my three years of employment here.” I opened my mouth to interject my opinion; however, Jason cut me off. “It’s not like there is a showing at midnight, but she does make silent appearances in the hall mirror from time to time. As I mentioned before, the…”
“Excuse me, MAY I speak?”
“Yes, of course, Ms. Harper. My deepest apologies…”
“For such a prestigious hotel, I would think the staff would know when to shut up.”
“A thousand apologies Ma’am…”
“Listen! I will take the Monroe Suite for the week. Housekeeping only upon request. No incoming calls, no matter how urgent they claim to be. Is that simple enough for you to understand?”
“Yes, Ma’am, right away,” Jason stammered as he went to collect my room key.
I turned my back to the front desk and exhaled. My mother said having people fear you was the most intoxicating feeling. It made me want to puke. I would never understand the need to humiliate those who were meant to help you. I heard Jason’s jaunty whistle come from around the corner. It was time for me to put my game face back on and continue the charade for a few moments longer.
“Here you are, Ms. Harper,” he said, handing me my room key, “would you like an assistant to help with your bags?”
“No bags. Show me to my room.”
“Right away. Roberto here will show you the way. Please enjoy your stay at the Hollywood Roosevelt.”
Room 229 was the Marilyn Monroe Suite. As soon as I walked through the door, I automatically felt a strong presence of sadness. I connected to it. Marilyn had such a glamorous life that was suffocated by misery. I could identify with most aspects of her tragic life. Her family was a disaster, so she changed her name, ran away, and tried to make a better life for herself. While she succeeded in creating a better life for herself, Norma Jean still failed. She became an iconic sex symbol but was never taken seriously as an actress. She was married to many of the most talented men of the era. Still, she never found the love and happiness she desperately sought. When she did find love, it was with two married brothers, who were possibly responsible for her death; an overdose of barbiturates. Shamed by family and murdered by love, Norma Jean and I were the same.
For the first time, I allowed the full force of the past day and a half to wash over me. It flooded me with so much emotion that I crumpled to the floor and cried myself to sleep. The pain was so intense the sound of my shrill screams awakened me several times. When I was able to untwist myself from the tear-soaked pretzel I had become, two days had passed.
My eyes were so swollen that they looked as if I had been beaten. My hair was matted and tangled. My lips were so chapped that they had split in places. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d showered or eaten. I stretched and paced around the room. I had to come up with a plan. I could avoid Brittney and Michael, but my father…I had to go home to him. Should I confront him about all I had witnessed, or should I ignore it and bury all the pain away? My thoughts were running in circles through my head. I began to feel dizzy and collapsed onto the bed. Too exhausted to do anything, I turned my head towards the mirror. I thought I caught a glimpse of Norma Jean’s ghost, which propelled me into the most horrifying dream.
I was standing in a dark room watching as Michael slipped drugs into my drink. He handed it to me. I kept screaming at myself not to drink it, but I was blinded by love. We sat on the sofa, cuddling and laughing until my head slumped to my chest. Once I’d passed out, Michael strolled out of the room as if nothing had happened. Over an hour had passed when Michael re-entered the room. This time he was not alone. He had my father with him. Together, they carried my lifeless body to the bedroom and staged the scene to make my death look like a suicide. They placed a spilled bottle of pills on the nightstand, an empty bottle of wine on the floor. The paramedics arrived the following morning to remove my pale bluing body. I chased them through the house shouting that I had been murdered, but my screams went unanswered.
I awoke from that dream, shaken but with a renewed sense of purpose. I wasn’t going to let Michael and my father do to me what the two brothers did to Marilyn. I was going to fight back. I peeled my snot-encrusted body off the mattress. Showering and eating were the first things to be conquered. The pipes groaned as I turned the water on full blast. It reminded me of my grandmother’s old farmhouse in upstate New York. While I let the shower run, I contacted the front desk and requested a personal shopper come to my room. I also asked that a full three-course meal of the chef’s choice be brought to me following the fittings.
Upon opening the door to the bathroom, a gust of steam hit me in the face, and I began to feel refreshed. I stood under the sharp spray of scalding water for 30 minutes, letting all the filth and film be withered away. The aroma of cherry blossom soap and jasmine shampoo overpowered the bathroom. It opened my mind to the distinct possibility that I would be able to survive this.
Photo by Simon Berger via Pexels.