The less that is said about the fate of Ashley, the better. Let those whose pens and keyboards dwell on misery and suffering and the high probability of worms that shall not die take up her cause and scribble on.
The bellhop was finally at rest. Having suffered a great deal of solitude and isolation during his existence, not least during his time at La Hotel Espero, he was now at rest waiting for the final trumpet that would bring him life eternal. For the moment, his existence was that shadowy one that survives in the memory of those who knew him, and occasionally someone could be found that still was concerned enough to travel to his lonely tombstone far from the land of his nativity to read the poem that he had written to himself as his epitaph:
Vivir es sufrir;
Morir es dormir.
Aquí no sufrirè nada más,
Así dèjame dormir en paz.
Translated, it means something like this:
To live is to suffer;
To die is to sleep.
Here I will suffer nothing more,
So let me sleep in peace.
And so he did.
The trial being ended, Kate hung her head. How was she supposed to know that she would receive the same sentence as a bellhop that her predecessor had done, for the cowardice of not speaking up against the folly of Ashley left her at least partly responsible for the results of it. She was to work in an empty hotel day by day. She closed her eyes and woke up in a bed. It was a serviceable bed but by no means a comfortable one. It was the same nightmare again, she told herself. She had dreamed herself on trial for not being brave enough to speak out against Ashley either at the moment where they left the bar to their death, or at the hotel where Ashley apparently saw fit to provide a means of escape for everyone involved that fatal week. Had it all been a nightmare, had it all been a dream? She looked around and saw the piles of books that she had not yet read next to the bed and on the bookshelf. And there, on the desk, was that box with the revolver in it. How long had it been there before? How many people had been in this room and succumbed to despair? Her friend had borne it well, and she would resolve to do the same.
She knew that he had existed. Even if the passage of time would lead her to forget her own name because there would be no one to tell it to her or use it to her, she doubted she would forget him. She had, after all, a letter from him that she often read to herself on troubled mornings like this after waking up from nightmares. Her letter went something like this:
“I apologize if you find it difficult to read this letter. I have always had a difficult time making my thoughts and feelings known, and often my hand hurts when I try to write. I have just received word that you are to replace me as the bellhop of this hotel and that I am to go to another place that I know not. I hope that you will read and learn the rules and follow them and go about your work bravely, and overcome despair. Know that as lonely as this hotel is, that you are not alone. There is a greater world beyond this hotel, and someday you will be able to join the company of others. I wish I would have been able to meet you when we both could have enjoyed each other for a lot longer, but time has never been a friend of mine. I do believe, though, that we will see each other again, and be able to enjoy each other’s company for all eternity. I hope that the thought comforts you and you share this hope.
Perhaps finer love letters have been written by people who were less awkward and less restrained than the bellhop had been, but her eyes often moistened as she thought of it. It was a reminder that her pleasant dreams of the week they had spent together in these walls were real, and not just a pleasant fantasy that she made up to cope with the loneliness of her existence. She remembered that he had been here, that he had slept in this bed and read all of these books, and that wherever he was that he had deserved a better fate than this. It was time to work, so she had to set these thoughts aside and get up. She went to the bathroom and took a shower and put on her bellhop uniform, and went outside to the lobby. There were no messages for her today. The messages she had sent about various improvements to the hotel that would make it seem less prison-like had vanished into a black hole of silence. She took her checklist and walked around the hotel. It was the first day of the week, so she would go through the rooms that she knew best. She walked by the restaurant where she had enjoyed those dates with him, past the gym that she used sometimes to work out her frustration in solitary exercise, and went through the rooms one by one. Nothing ever changed. The rooms were clean without a trace of dust or a trace of life, and there were still no windows to the world outside. She went into room thirteen and saw the room where she had slept for a week. It was clean, and there was no trace that anyone had ever lived or died here. She noted that everyone was here as it ought to be and moved on to the other rooms, which were the same way. She returned to the lobby and waited, and nothing happened the rest of the workday that distracted her from the isolation and tedium of her existence. Today was like many days she had known, and there were many such days ahead of her.