Nicaragua Night Hotel

The man who guards the front door sings to himself as he guards the front door. There’s one huge roof over the squat hotel, hovering over the rooms on columns. The rooms are a set of cement walls and a few flimsy doors.

Most of the guests try to bathe before trying to sleep through the slow tropic heat, and the showers have elaborate tiles which are old enough to be covered in something that looks like rust. Only near the door are the tiles smooth and bright, worn by feet into a thin trail. There are cement washtubs built into the corner of both small shower rooms. The guests never used to bathe with running water. Above, a single fluorescent tube is screwed into one of the vigas, the spiderwebs around it have become so clogged with dust that they have become the ceiling.

At night there are only the sounds. Men murmur to their lovers, water falls from a plastic pipe in the shower, the singing man guards the front door from a rocking chair. He will stand naked in the shower at dawn.

Then it starts to rain like teenagers throwing fistfuls of water against the fired-earth tiles of the roof. The drips start through the spiderwebs. Empty rocking chairs nod with the wind coming off the lake, which is running down the empty streets, looking for open doorways. If the guests were to take showers now, they’d run across the patio, trying to avoid the rain. They run their fans all night long, for the mosquitoes. For the sound.

A dog is echoing somewhere outside. Most of the guests are old. They’re asleep now, or laying awake waiting for drips, listening to the fans.

The man in the rocking chair also whistles. His tongue is a cello bow drawn across a bending handsaw. The flimsy doors are closed. Snoring harmonizes with the rain that harmonizes with the fans. The dog must be stuck on a roof somewhere.

The curtains are thin. The sheets are thinner. And the man who whistles a handsaw is the thinnest of all.