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[QUOTE] [:jojo_tobecontinued:] [/QUOTE] The Hotel had a way of keeping people, though many of the reasons were not as savory as the vittles of the Cafe M. Maou was one of these people, and he in turn found himself keeping many things for reasons that were not all tasteful, either. The faithful of the Cafe M each lived in their own time zones, even as they were all gathered under its smoke-soaked roof. Deep into the night, there were the strangely wakeful taking their afternoon tea in the Hotel. Who knew what had swept them onto the shores of the Bay, but for all of the city that now clung to them, they had not acquired its time. Tonight, though, the guests had all cleared out by the evening. A wet front had rolled in, and the old men were lured to sleep by the mist. Maou, too, retired to his room. He had long since stopped smoking, but the desire for smoke had never truly left him. In his room were a few small boxes containing bits of wood: hickory in one, maple in another, mesquite in a third, and so on. He took a pinch of hickory, put it into the room’s ashtray, and lit it. The scent was warm and dark, and brought him the comfort of the scotch he couldn’t afford. Men would always seek fire, even if the only place they can find it is in a cheap glass bottle. Maou laid back on his bed, letting the faint smell of the smouldering hickory drift over him. His room was full of all manner of dead and transformed wood. Some were mementos, like the piece from time of the Rangers’ burning. Some he didn’t know why he still kept, like the overly-long piece from Norway, or the bone-white colorless one which seemed awful from every angle. The fragment of hickory popped and crackled. Maou let his thinking slow. He was in no mood for reading tonight, and just stared at an old poster of a beautiful, long-haired Asian woman in a deep crimson turtleneck sweater. She had always written in her spare time, and even in that picture she held a pen and a black folder. The orange glow of the hickory grew brighter. Maou could feel his eyelids grow heavy, and his mind submerging. Today’s job had gone smoothly, as smoothly as such jobs can go, but he felt as tired as if he had done an honest day’s work. He tried recalling the events of the day, but his mind sank ever further below where it could reach his memories of the day. The hickory gave out its last light. Maou no longer had the strength to do anything but fall asleep on top of his bed. He thought about the white jacket she wasn’t wearing in that poster, and the long chain that bound the arms of her glasses that she’d loop over her collarbone like a necklace. As Maou fell asleep, he tried to forget about her. [:jojo_tobecontinued:]
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