Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Hotel Paradiso by Julian Graff

This story won the second prize in our ultra-short story competition earlier this year

The pigeons came home to roost. So too the vandals of the home-grown, not the corporate breed. Still, there was no satisfaction: where once townsfolk bemoaned the dereliction of a beautiful building, they now shook their heads in disbelief at the state of its successor.
 The genesis was not without promise: once the objections were buried, petitions acknowledged and ignored and deals stamped by unaccountable committee, the local landmark (formerly workplace of hot-metal minders, engineers, typesetters, scribes, secretaries and executives – bosses, we called them then – the object of acquisition) was reduced to rubble.
 In its place, glowering and maximising every inch of airspace, a ubiquitous link in a chain of hotels, its facile façade dominating, standing out like a sore, well, like a sore.
 Few complained then, when the chamber maids and bright sparks, plumbers of every origin and administrators of all hues and hierarchies had been hired. A boost to the local economy, it was said.
 Then the takings dropped, focus groups dissolved and the clientele followed en-suite. Letters in the paper revealed all: ‘Never go back’. ‘Used to love this town, but…’
 It was that noise, apparently. Despite the hi-tech, the architect, planners and PR, there was this constant booming, a rhythmic pounding. 
 The sea, perhaps, striving to reclaim its shore. Or the coastal wind, harmonising off-key with the shoddy superstructure.
 Only old-timers discerned the clank of the presses, the ethereal and enduring agony of metal fused with man. Only the pigeons didn’t give a hoot.

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