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December 31st, 1947, 7:00pm
Only a few blocks from the White House the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel is one of Washington DC's most historic and lavish hotels. Built in 1925, it's baroque style stands with elegance and architectural pride. The high-end clientele consists of important government and business travelers. No casual passers-by stay here.
Inside, the gold and dark wood decor was reminiscent of Victorian overabundance. A beautifully woven carpet covers hard wood floors and a colorful ceiling allows only a soft ambiance. Flowers and gardens decorate the lobby and beautifully upholstered furniture provides places of rest for the guests.
At the front desk, a young charming man casually takes phone calls and organizes keys. A bellhop quickly responds to the blue-eyed, black-haired man and services a small line of elite guests. Although decorated for New Years Eve, it is still too early in the night to see evidence that festivities were starting. It is clear, however, that the hotel will be hosting quite a party in its banquet rooms.
Roland stood gazing at the lavish decorations and the short line of guests in front of him. It had been a long journey from Cairo. Where most passengers enjoyed the exotic ports of the Mediterranean, Roland rarely left the safety of the boat, let alone his room. He was stiff, sore and would swear he still suffered from cabin fever.
The decorations reminded him it was New Year's eve. He had forgotten that Americans celebrated January 1 as the holiday. For the past two years he celebrated Losar, the Tibetan New Year, in February. Roland's mind went back to the last Losar celebration with his family. He was unprepared for the rush of emotion that accompanied the memory. He shoved it down as quickly as he could.
Trying to show as much discipline as he could, the exhausted young man approached the queue and patiently waited his turn.
The crowd was thick, mostly because of the impending party. Locals were buying invitations at the front desk and retiring to the hotel's beautifully decorated venues. Signs at the desk promoted a well known New Orleans jazz band and the busy front desk man was selling tickets to that as well.
When Roland at last arrived, the blue-eyed man at the desk graciously smiled at the new customer and with neatly folded hands asked, "Are you checking in, sir?"
With a subtle flick of his wrist he summoned the bellman.
--Laveaux 22:26, 12 December 2005 (CST)
As he waited, the young German analyzed the crowd and the hotel. Fears seemed cast aside for the evening. The arrivals merrily purchased tickets and moved toward the festivities. He was glad they were carefree and merry this evening. It was time to celebrate.
The hotel was booked as the Grand Dame of Washington DC. Only a decade ago, Roosevelt had penned his famous lines �the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.� Roland knew better. He knew there were things far more terrifying than fear; things that fear couldn�t even touch. His mind began to darken at the thought and a frustration grew in his breath. He . . .Nein Dummkopf! Knock it off, it�s New Year�s eve, there�s a party and a band. You must relax. Roland forced himself to calm down and when the clerk addressed him, he gave a cheery smile and looked up.
Roland gave the desk clerk a curious expression and tried to process the request. His English was getting better but he wasn�t fluent yet.
�Ja,� he replied without thinking, his think accent giving away his heritage.
�Yes,� he said sheepishly. �I am checking in. Two nights, please. . . and perhaps a ticket to the band also.� He smiled his most disarming smile and tried to appear as confident as possible. He knew how irritated clerks could be with someone who did not speak the language.
The front desk man's composure completely changed after Roland spoke. He stopped the bellman with a quick gesture, and then indignately shuffled papers. Glancing up only to portray a severe expression he said, "I'm sorry. The hotel is booked. I believe there is a motel three blocks down."
The man then ushered the next person in line forward. He was a balding and large man with an ill-fitted suit and suitcase.
"Yes, sir? How may I help you?" The front desk man said smiling once again.
--Laveaux 22:26, 12 December 2005 (CST)