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by Michael Loveday

Dear Mr. Snaresbrook,

It is with a certain chagrin that I write to you today. Returning home from my very pleasant stay at the Thistle, I felt a nagging sense of discomfort. When your bill for damages arrived via my agent, I could recognise that there are few circumstances in which defacing a hotel bedroom is acceptable, and I would like to explain myself.

The blood smeared on the walls was an unfortunate aesthetic decision which in hindsight, I may now reflect, did not complement your velvet teal curtains. Indeed I had not hitherto realised blood was this colour — remarkably scarlet, which surprised me as much as it will have surprised your cleaner. I did not originally plan to leave quite so much vomit in the bathroom sink, especially since I can understand that it will have been disconcerting to your cleaner that I left the plug in. I’m sorry that she did not have, or think to use, an instrument other than her own hand to remove both the plug and the remains. The television she found in the bath was no doubt of the highest specification as you kindly observe. (Whilst I was disappointed that it did not explode as intended, I hadn’t thought about the need for it to be plugged in to do so.) It hadn’t occurred to me that modern technological equipment is remotely expensive — I don’t follow the receipts for my wife’s purchases. The message smeared on the bathroom mirror was not aimed at your cleaner, and I can only state that it is an unfortunate coincidence that her mother is of Spanish origin — I could not possibly have known it would be translatable. Please pass on my sincere apologies, and I wish her mother well. When I smashed up the Windsor armchair with an axe I omitted to recover all the splinters from the carpet and I feel some responsibility for one of them having entered the left heel of your aforementioned employee. She seems to have borne the unwelcome brunt of the consequences of my actions, which is regrettable. The crystal chandelier was a last-minute decision, and I feel certain that it might be restored to its original state, if someone were to take painstaking care with a little superglue.

In summary, I enjoyed my stay at your hotel and would not wish this isolated incident of joie de vivre to lead to a permanent ban. I regularly return to London and yours is my accommodation of choice, offering as it does spectacular views of Hyde Park and a particularly fine selection of Claret in the restaurant cellar. You will find that my agent will have settled the expenses by now — a small courtesy.

Mr. Snaresbrook, I need not remind you, I am in the throes of finishing a new book, the fruit of a seven year struggle with various semi-autobiographical subjects, and I hope that you will accept that acts of vandalism can bubble over in times of great creative endeavour without any wilfulness on the part of the protagonist. With most artists these are acts of self-vandalism, but I trust you understand that with the great ones sometimes other people suffer too — a kind of infelicitous yet unavoidable collateral damage. (As to my standing in the pantheon, Mr. Snaresbrook, you will, no doubt, have seen the reviews.)

I know that within you, as with all of us, lies an artist seeking to express himself in the world, and I entreat that same artist to look kindly on this latest bout of injudiciousness, and consider most especially the sanctity of the creative spirit, which we must not allow to be extinguished in these troubled times.

I remain your most humble servant, etc.,

Rupert Van Bronckhurst

Michael Loveday’s debut poetry pamphlet He Said / She Said was published by HappenStance Press (2011). His poems, short stories and book reviews have been published in Ambit, Envoi, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Iota, Magma, The North, POEM, The Rialto, Spelk and Stand. He lives near London, UK, and teaches in adult education. Website: www.michaelloveday.co.uk.