Roy looked at his watch, and then he glanced over at Michelle, who’d already closed her book and was starting to get up. In that moment, his wife for some reason didn’t appear as attractive to him as usual.

He thought he should wrap up the get-together with Jeff. It’s time to take the video camera and go to the beach, where he’d arranged to meet with Carmen. And then he still has to go to work in Manhattan for a night shift at the Hotel Mandarin.


Chapter 4


Not everything yields to logical explanation upon first look. However, it’s worth trying to understand why Roy needed this uninteresting, essentially dead-end job in the Security Operations Center at the Hotel Mandarin.

The job itself was low paying. As an atelier manager, Michelle made three times the salary, even during the economic downturn. Of course, any income is beneficial. But was it worth the loss of time, sitting for hours in front of monitors in the Security Operations Center? To watch dumbly as faceless guests move through the corridors, as they enter the spas and beauty salons, the hotel bars and restaurants, as the maids push containers with piles of dirty linen into the freight elevators, and, near the entrance, bellboys in their red uniforms and caps open the doors for tourists who are excited by the New York ambience? Hidden security cameras throughout the building are directed at all the stairwells, fire exits, garages, unloading zones, and ventilation shafts. No, it’s definitely not worth it to spend one’s precious time staring at all of this on screens.

Michelle attributed her husband’s change to working in security as another quirk, a fad—another thing she’d gotten used to after twelve years of living together.


Having married this medical school student twelve years ago, she secretly hoped that Roy would someday have a future as a great psychiatrist. He will have a private practice, or work in some major psychiatric center, publish his articles in professional medical journals, even host his own show on some TV channel, since he was always “drawn to television.”