Monday, 24 April 2017

In Dusseldorf... day two

This morning, around 0540hrs, I was awoken by an alarm, somebody else's alarm. It was a slow beeping sound that continued for the best part of 20 minutes. At first, I just stayed put, lying on my back looking at the ceiling, waiting, I suppose, not to hear it or, in other words, I was expecting somebody to depress a button and shut the thing off. Nothing happened. A deep sleeper, perhaps, I thought; or whoever occupies the room, which I'm guessing is the room next door to me on the left hand side, Room 212, had vacated the room and forgot to switch off his (or her) alarm. They could have left early but not taken their alarm clock with them when they checked out of the hotel. Or, I thought suddenly, they're dead. They died in their sleep or were murdered, and the murderer forgot or overlooked the fact that an alarm had been set and, for all intents and purposes, was now miles away, on the autobahn, perhaps, heading God knows where: to Russia or Kazakhstan or anywhere. They might be in the air as I write this, far from the crime scene and never to return. I started to imagine what scene might await whoever entered the room: a blood-stained bed, a knife protruding from the chest of the former occupant, his eyes staring blankly, like mine were, at the ceiling, but lifeless. I can't recall having been awoken in the dead of night by the sound of gunshot, but then if I was going to murder somebody in the dead of night in a place full of people sleeping in the centre of a big European city I think I'd use a silencer. Then the alarm stopped and I figured that my first guess was correct: the person in the room next to mine was a really, really heavy sleeper and probably needed those clocks from Dark Side of the Moon to get him up in the morning. But then the alarm resumed; it was clearly gathering strength for the long haul task of waking up its owner. Either that or my suspicion that somebody had died or had been murdered by a trained assassin was closer to the truth. Perhaps the alarm clock had drawn the short straw back in the store waiting for somebody to buy it. Perhaps it watched on helplessly as a huge, hairy, fat bloke with serious health issues waddled towards it and plucked it from the shelf. "Oh no! A lifetime of hard work," it thought as it reached the cash desk and to this day has regretted all of its bells and whistles that had prompted the sale in the first place.

Should I in some way get involved, I wondered to myself. Perhaps whoever occupies the room 'next door' is in some kind of trouble, unconscious, perhaps, having a heart attack, needing immediate medical attention and the people in the rooms on either side, including me, both having heard the alarm, did nothing. Perhaps as I write this he or she is breathing their last and are lying contorted and half naked on the bed. Perhaps they committed suicide, an overdose, and as I'm sitting here now, half naked myself but very much alive and awake, they are about to die, or they died hours ago?

But what to do? Call the front desk and tell them what's happened? Go next door myself and rather than waste time, kick down the door as if I'm Tom Cruise in a Mission Impossible movie only to find an indignant individual, his face covered in shaving foam, headphones covering his ears, looking at me as if I'm half crazy and reaching for the phone to call security. "But your alarm, it wouldn't stop ringing. I thought you might be in some trouble," I might say in my defence, but perhaps he doesn't speak a word of English and instead is now advancing towards me holding some kind of weapon. Perhaps I turn and run, but not back to my room, down two flights of stairs to the front desk and out of the door, on to Karlstrasse dressed only in my Alfani boxers (poor man's Calvin Klein's) that I purchased about a year ago in a store in Chicago. The sound of police sirens reach my ears prior to my arrest and incarceration and as I sit there, alone, in my cell, a white towel draped over my shoulders, trying to come to terms with what has just happened, a small paper cup of steaming hot tea is put through the aperture in the cell door and I accept it gratefully. What next, I wonder? I'd have some explaining to do at home and at work, but the reality of the situation would be that I was only trying to help in some way. I'd be done, no doubt, for criminal damage of the hotel room door, that's all, but how humiliating it would all have been!

The alarm stopped and started a couple of times and just this second I heard somebody knock on the door and then enter the room. A woman's voice, but no screams so she obviously hasn't found a dead body, unless she's the sort of person that's calm, very calm, in stressful situations. There's a few noises of somebody, the woman I'm guessing, pottering around in the room, looking, perhaps, for the rogue alarm that is probably hoping its owner is dead so that it can be re-housed somewhere else, sent to a charity shop where it might find somebody a little more considerate, a little more alive.

It's 0626hrs and in four minutes my own alarm will sound and I'll have to take a shower, have some breakfast, find a shop that sells toothpaste and then head out for a day's work. I'll need some shaving foam too, although I'm used to relying on the soap provided. With two minutes to go until my own alarm sounds I hear the sound of the alarm in next door's room again. It sounds briefly but is then silenced, possibly by the woman who entered the room a few moments ago. She can't work the alarm. It might be a clock radio. I've never understood them; they seem to have a mind of their own. Perhaps the room was unoccupied, but the clock alarm, set by a previous occupant, somebody who checked out yesterday morning, had not been deactivated. I don't know and I don't care, but if when I leave my room in about half an hour to get on with those miserably mundane chores of hunting for toothpaste and shaving foam and a notebook, there are police in the room next door, I'll know that my initial suspicions were right and that I and the man or woman in the room on the other side of next door, not forgetting those opposite, all of whom are probably wondering what's going on, were wrong to simply surmise things and then decide to take no action whatsoever, based on the assumption that stuff like this doesn't happen to them.

Was it anything to do with an unanswered alarm clock?
When I did eventually leave the building after breakfast this morning a police car pulled up outside the hotel and two bulky-looking German policemen entered the hotel. Perhaps there was some truth in what I was thinking, I thought, as I walked in the direction of the railway station in search of a shop that might sell notepads.

I write a lot of hotel and restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor, which can be read by clicking here.

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