Kalliel (kalliel) wrote,
Kalliel
kalliel

Rec: "How to Break into a Hotel Room"

Week 3 reading! This week was Stephen Graham Jones's new short story, "How to Break into a Hotel Room," published in the horror/dark fantasy magazine, Nightmare.

It's a really lovely combination of that anxious energy you get from watching someone pull off (or not) petty crime + guilt/ghost story + unexpected emotional tenor, provided by Javier's relationship with Tran. I enjoyed it! And if you're reading this journal, I will go out on a limb and assume that there is a higher than normal proportion of you who also like character-driven ghost stories that happen in proximity to hotel/motel rooms. ;P
Javi is short for Javier. Javier is short for Has the Perfect Scam.

He hasn’t told anybody about it yet.

Especially not the hotels.

It’s not the kind of thing you get rich with—one fancy watch or a pair of earrings doesn’t exactly pay the rent—but it is the kind of thing that’s good enough for a smile at three in the morning. It is the kind of thing that’s good enough when your dying friend Tran just cashed in his retirement. When Tran’s flush he’s a pawnshop, will buy whatever trinket you bring him, pretty much, so long as it’s got a story, is guaranteed hot, and when he’s flush with retirement savings and dying—which is always, lately—he’s not all that concerned with making sure both columns of the ledger even out. It’s like, as he’s being lowered into the grave, he’s pulling all the shiny things to him he can.

How could Javi not want to help him out with that? If stolen trinkets will give Tran a little break from dying, fascinate him in a way that’s not an “ordeal” or a “battle,” just let him be his old self for half a moment—this won’t even really be stealing. It’ll just be helping a friend out. Reminding him who he is. Who both of them are: still the same two punks in the last stall of the far bathroom in junior high, buying junk the seventh graders pilfered from their own houses, then selling that junk to the ninth graders, who had the cash for stray pills, bottles with a drink or two left. Once word got out, they’d graduated to shoes still in the box, bikes that hadn’t been chained up, copies of house keys, and tests, and what they got from all these transactions wasn’t money, but suspensions and expulsions, which translated into cred, made them street, which they wore proudly, like the most inky black hoodie, their hands thrust deep into the kangaroo pocket, which could be holding anything.

So, selling Tran a fancy watch or a pair of cufflinks now, years after they’d graduated to other things, it won’t be about the cufflinks or the watch. It’ll be about “remember when.”

-"How to Break into a Hotel Room"
Tags: fandom recs
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