The Traveler

By Michael Croban

Every morning he would get up from his bed and do his morning rituals, which include shaving and showering, among other things. Then he would put his best suit on and with a briefcase in his hand, he would face the mirror. Almost every time he would be pleased with what he would see. He would leave the apartment with a smile on his face. Sometimes he would take a cab to the hotel if the hotel was somewhere near. However, most of the time he would ride the train, sometimes for hours, until he would reach his destination. The city was big; there were hundreds, if not thousands, of hotels waiting for him to visit. Every morning he would visit a different one. He would enter the lobby bar, put his empty briefcase on the table, and order a coffee or tea or some other drink, depending on which city he was coming from. “I’m from Cleveland, I’m from Washington, I’m from Seattle,” he would say when a bartender would ask him where he was from. Sometimes he would be from Paris or London, but since he couldn’t speak any foreign language or fake an accent, he would say that he was an American living in one of those cities, visiting home. “Business or pleasure?” the barmen would ask. “Business,“ he would reply. It was always business, there was no time for pleasure. He could sit for hours, pretending to read the newspapers. He would always ask for The Wall Street Journal. If there were no newspapers available, he would take his phone out and pretend that he was in the middle of some very important conversation. His tone of voice would often be harsh, as if someone was bothering him, or interrupting him. “Let me get back to you. I know. I know the statistics don’t lie, but my broker says the price will only go up,” he would say some nonsense like that and abruptly hung up the phone. He would say it loud enough so that anyone in the bar could hear. Sometimes, someone would look at him, and he would just smirk at them, looking annoyed. It would make him feel great. Sometimes a stranger would strike up a conversation with him, but his lies would usually get the better of him. He would feel ashamed and leave in the middle of the conversation as if he was in a hurry to get to some incredibly important meeting, as if people’s lives depended on it. But most of the time no one would approach him, as he would look intimidating and extremely busy. Late at night when he would finally come home, he would shower and go to bed. He would lie awake for hours; thinking about the next city he would come from.

Michael Croban hails from Croatia, Europe. He is a former musician and a music editor. He equally appreciates Dostoevsky and Frank Herbert. His work has recently appeared online on 101 Words, The Drabble, Adhoc Fiction and Friday Flash Fiction.

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