Room 27: Tom

Tom never sleeps alone. He always brings someone in my room. Tom is one of my regulars. But there is no pattern or apparent logic to his stays. He just appears occasionally. I do not know much about him.

I often feel he uses my room rather than stays in my room. Sometimes the boy he brings in is young and shy. They talk for a while. Tom pours some drinks. He is gentle and strokes the hair of the boy. He whispers things in his ear. The love making is always brief and hurried. Undressing. Some muffled noises. Shower. Dressing again. Silence. Shifty eyes.

When Tom stays with me he gets up early, no matter how late he went to bed. He puts on his running gears and leaves for an hour of so. I imagine he runs along the old port, and then towards the Calanques, on the running path bordering the sea. The sun is high in the sky in most seasons in Marseilles. Runners go out early to escape the sun. Some like to see the sun raising on the sea.

Tom call his family at least once a day. Has a little chat with his kids. Before they go to bed. I think he has 2 kids, Zoe and Arthur unless he has another one who is too old or too young to talk to his Dady over the phone. As a room, 4 walls around him for a specific moment of time, I do not have much to go for to get to know my guest. I have to use my imagination, connect the dots with the outside. The other life.

Tom is meticulous and organised. He makes his bed every day. Even if there is a daily room service in hotel  "du Vieux Port". He folds his clothes neatly. He carefully puts the used condoms in a little plastic bags before throwing them away. He brings a couple of black chinos and some grey and white T.shirts. He wears matching socks and underwear. Occasionally he puts on a white shirt. I have never seen him with a tie.

He wears a light bear., which he trims every day. He always brings a book or two, and reads for large parts of the day, seated in front of the window.

When it is time for him to go home, he makes neat little piles of clothes on the bed. Little rectangles. Well aligned. Socks, underwears, shirts. He collects all of the toiletries given by the hotel. He packs in silence. Last he adds the chargers, his razor, the books. The suitcase closes with a smooth little clap which he seems to enjoy.

Tom goes around one last time. Checks the drawers. Arranges the bed cover and closes the window.

And gets out without looking back.


Brigitte Bellan