Paul had left the park and was trying his luck at the waterfront. There were plenty of bars and restaurants in the area and he was sure he’d be able to find some food, and maybe some work there. He was exhausted though, and he tried to nap on a bench for a while but the concrete benches in Oasis Springs were so uncomfortable! He wandered around the area looking for food and rummaging in the bins while it was still dark and nobody was around to see him. Then he used the bathroom to freshen up. Sadly, there wasn’t much he could do about his clothes which were beginning to stink! He needed to figure out a way to wash them soon.
[note: laundrettes would be great please gurus!]
Paul found himself stood outside the spa. The pool water looked so fresh and inviting! Paul stood looking at it longingly for a moment. There was nobody around, would anyone notice if he took a quick dip? He edged onto the lot cautiously, alert to the smallest sound or movement. Nobody came running out to shout at him. He looked carefully at all the windows… he didn’t think anyone was watching. Maybe he could… take a dip in the hot-tub?
He slipped off his clothes and climbed into the warm, bubbling water gratefully. It felt so good on his aching muscles! He slid deeper into the water… and fell asleep.
He wasn’t sure how long he’d been there, but when he woke up the moon was low in the sky and people were bustling about! He froze as a woman walked along the balcony above him… but she didn’t seem to notice him. In fact, as more people began arriving at the lot they barely glanced at him as they went about their business. Did they think he was a guest?
Testing his luck, he climbed into the refreshing pool to swim some laps. Nobody seemed to care. Well… this was interesting!
Hmmmm… there was a bar there… and a grill. Maybe if he could hang around until breakfast time he might be able to cadge something to eat. He was feeling extremely hungry.
Trying to look inconspicuous, Paul pulled some spare clothes from his bag and surreptitiously rinsed his stinky clothes in the pool. He hung them secretively on a bush to dry in the sun. If anyone questioned him he could just grab them and run!
As the spa got busier, he decided to pass the time by acting like a customer and blending in. He copied another guest who he’d seen using the yoga mat and did some awkward stretches. But when he lay down he accidentally fell asleep again!
Paul woke up and groaned! He was annoyed at himself for falling asleep again. He wondered how long he’d napped for and hoped nobody had noticed! His clothes weren’t dry yet, so he mustn’t have slept for too long.
The bar opened and Paul ventured in to see if food and drink was free for ‘guests’. He’d only just sat down when a posh-looking woman turned her nose up at him.
‘You look like you’re having a bad day,’ she said quite rudely!
‘Uh, yeah,’ Paul mumbled, ‘you could say that.’
‘Well then,’ she said snappily, ‘hurry up with breakfast and get yourself cleaned up before the guests see you!’
Paul was shocked and a bit embarrassed. But she told him to have breakfast so he did! He mulled over what had just happened. The woman had only challenged his appearance, and not his presence. So he figured for whatever reason, the woman thought he was supposed to be there! In that case, he ordered a cocktail. And then another. And he fell asleep in the hot-tub again.
Paul woke up with a start! The woman was getting into the hot-tub with him. Flustered he moved to get out but she ordered him to stay. Uh oh, she was mad at him! Had she realised he wasn’t supposed to be there?
‘What are you doing in here, you lazy little rat!’ she snarled, ‘Didn’t I tell you to get to work? I don’t pay you to sit around using the facilities.’
Wait… what? Paul was foggy from sleep and confused. He was also slightly distracted by the woman’s skimpy bikini and… were those breasts real? He shifted uncomfortably in the water.
‘Well? Are you just going to sit there?’ she probed angrily.
‘Look lady,’ Paul snapped, ‘I don’t know who you think I am…’
‘Who you are?’ she interrupted, ‘Are you not Manuel from the agency?’
‘Uh… no,’ Paul stuttered, trying to think quickly.
‘Then who are you?’ demanded the woman, looking at him suspiciously.
‘I’m uh… from the agency, but umm… Manuel was sick so they sent me,’ he lied instinctively. ‘They just told me to wait around until someone told me what to do.’
The woman narrowed her eyes at him. For a minute he was sure she didn’t believe him, but then amazingly, she softened a little.
‘What is your name?’ she asked thoughtfully.
‘Tom.’ He lied.
She was still looking at him in a strange way, like she was working out whether she believed him or not.
He felt uncomfortable so he asked abruptly, ‘So, what do you want me to do then?’
The woman’s lip curled a little at the edge in what might have been a smile. When she spoke again her voice was silky and meaningful, ‘Well, Tom, I’m sure the agency told you that as a caretaker you would need to keep the place clean and tidy, and fix anything that breaks. You can do that, right?’
Paul nodded, yeah he could do that.
‘And in return, you get room and board. Your apartment is the one in the middle up there,’ she pointed a carefully manicured nail at the balcony.
Paul couldn’t believe his luck! He was going to get to stay at the spa, with a room to himself, and his meals were included? All he had to do was tidy up and fix a few thing. Still, he couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more to this than he was seeing. He’d conned enough people to know when someone was acting suspiciously, and this woman definitely had an ulterior motive!
‘I’m Nancy,’ the woman held out her hand for him to shake. ‘You look exhausted, you can’t work like that. Take today off, go and freshen up in your room, and make sure you are ready to work hard tomorrow. You can get your key from the bar.’
With that she leaned back and closed her eyes, making it clear the conversation was over.
Paul got the key and went to find his room. A woman gave him a funny look as they passed on the stairs but he didn’t care! He’d gone from sleeping on park benches and scavenging scraps to having his own room at a posh spa! He was convinced that that woman, Nancy, knew he wasn’t really from ‘the agency’ and that he was lying, but she didn’t seem to care. He also suspected she had some hidden purpose for him, but if he got into trouble he’d just run away and hide out somewhere like he always did. He had nothing to lose and was going to take full advantage of the situation.
The apartment was small, but it had a separate bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, so he was impressed! He had a shower, some cereal from the already stocked fridge, and a nap. When he woke up he felt amazing! It was night time again and the guests and most of the day-staff had gone home. He had the pool to himself again and he was going to enjoy it!