I have circulated among its many rooms over the weeks, the seasons and years
impelled, one might argue, more by circumstance or chance than predilection.
Though long ago converted into apartments, this place retains its former name, L’Hotel Deluxe,
a vast edifice of an earlier era, corridors lit by chandeliers, stretching for what seems forever
in the fashion of the old railroad hotels like Glasgow’s Grand Central or Quebec City’s Chateau.

There were those few years in the mid-Seventies when I found myself in the former drawing room
with its vaulted ceilings and view out the French doors of the garden, with its clouds
of bougainvillea, hydrangea, hibiscus and phlox, and in the company of the first Mrs K,
a local beauty, largely untutored and of undistinguished lineage, but with an amiable, if erratic nature.
I was at that point Chief Secretary of the Governor General, a position of not a little prestige
and enviable emoluments, a sinecure, I must here confess, purchased through family connections;
then found myself, darling Philomena having fled, in a tiny one-room cubicle in the basement,
behind the laundry room and amidst the white-painted ducts and rusted storage lockers,
listening to the thump thump of the washers and driers, the metallic clatter of loose change.
So have my fortunes whipsawed over time, as if captive of some unruly destiny, not my own.

The scenes outside my window would unpredictably change, as with the fare on tap at movie houses:
two weeks of Rashomon, then three weeks of The Nutty Professor or an Otto Preminger blunderbuss.
So it transpired with me: one season in near squalor, dispirited, alone, nearly immobilised, an Oblomov;
only to then find myself in what had formerly been the 18th-floor Executive Suite with wraparound view:
the great metropolis, its vistas, bridges, hills and the Bay below, stylishly moderne blond wood decor,
nibbling bits of crumbled pancetta off the belly of the deliriously ardent, agile Widow Jones.

And not long after find myself once again elsewhere, as one does, as I suppose one must, now here,
but where, precisely, here is, apart from the dead patch of morning glory out the window,
its brown leaves trembling in the wind, or as to my condition of mind, the woman beside me
reading Mavis Gallant’s stories, napping, reading on, it’s far too soon to know.

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