He laid the rolled, silk scroll on his hotel bed and took a step back. The wood floor creaked. He looked down at his old, beaten leather boots and thought again about why he liked the Chinese painting. It was the utter loneliness. Yes, that is it.
The cool night winds from the long open window caressed his neck causing him to shiver. He rubbed his arms feeling tired. It had been a long day, and he knew that tomorrow would not be as peaceful as today. A foghorn then sounded into the night. He took a deep breath feeling the faint scent of the sea in the winds. He decided to rest and get ready for bed. But again, he desired to look at the painting. Slowly and carefully he unrolled the scroll and positioned it so that its rectangular shape was symmetrical to the borders of the bed. He took another step back and saw clearly why the painting had appealed to him. He felt like that small, dark figure standing at the edge of a long, thin, and black sandy shore before the magnificent power of crashing waterfall waves. He then stepped toward a circular table by the open window, took a short glass of anise London dry gin on the rocks, and grabbed the arm of a finely sculpted, colonial sofa chair; he pulled the chair closer to the bed, and sat down.
Thoughts and memories began to fill his mind like faint, clattery raindrops hitting an old, copper roof. He did not want to think too much, and so he kept distant from those thoughts by observing them. He smiled as he observed while staring at the painting. But soon the smile faded. He thought of her again, and with her came the not too distant events of the day.
YOU ARE READING
The Astor House of Old ShanghaiScience Fiction
On the eve of the 20th century, an American Marine on the run from a crime committed during the Spanish-American War seeks refuge at The Astor House in Shanghai. Alone and weary, he tries to settle into the familiar Western surroundings of his hotel...