Joyce DeMannon traced a white glove-encased fingertip over a lamp shade and inspected it for residue. Satisfied, she gave a curt, reluctant nod to the head of the maid staff.

“Turndown service every morning, of course,” the chambermaid informed her dour guest. “Standard mint on the pillow, or you can inform my staff of a particular preference.”

She turned on a smartly polished heel and led her charge to the master bath.

“As our baths have all been retrofitted with steam settings, you needn’t leave your own room to indulge in a full, luxurious spa experience. Complimentary hot rocks, cucumber water and sea salts are all available through the concierge’s desk.”

Joyce inspected the facilities in silence with hands clasped behind her back.

“Towels on the floor or in the hamper to indicate you wish them laundered, please,” the chambermaid continued in a clipped, practiced cadence.

“And the minibar,” Joyce rasped in a voice as dehydrated as her sloughed, bronze skin.

“There is absolutely nothing mini about it, madam,” the chambermaid responded on cue as they made their way back into the hallway. “Our bars are full-sized and fully stocked with the finest spirits and liquers. Hand-rolled cigars are located in the adjacent humidor. All complimentary, of course.”

“Virginia Slims are available through the concierge,” she quickly added, well-adapted to intuiting the unique needs of her guests.

“Cable or satellite,” Joyce croaked.

“Both, of course,” the chambermaid replied, mildly offended. “Along with movies on demand, video games and unlimited wi-fi access.”

The chambermaid slid open the glass arcadia door in the living room and stepped out onto the patio.

“Landscapers come at one o’clock on the dot every afternoon, so as not to disrupt your sleep.”

Joyce looked down the sharp ridge of her eroding nose at the khaki-clad laborer with a leaf-blower strapped to his back. He was dripping sweat under a ratty straw hat that made her itch.

Another curt nod indicated her appeasement.

“The fitness center and pool are open twenty four hours a day,” the chambermaid informed her upon reentering the living room.

“Every guest is assigned a personal superintendent for any and all repair needs,” she continued. “Simply call me at any hour of the day, for any reason whatsoever, and I will have him here within five minutes.”

“And group activities,” Joyce prompted. “I presume there to be outings and entertainment available nightly?”

“Certainly, madam,” the chambermaid responded. “There are shuttles on call to take our guests to and from sporting events, theater shows, restaurants and nightclubs. We also have nightly luaus, bridge tournaments and countless other activities for our guests to enjoy.”

A knock at the door interrupted them.

“Ah, that must be Javier,” the chambermaid surmised, a faint smile touching her lips.


“Your cabana boy,” the chambermaid replied, adjusting her costume-like uniform and crossing the fifteen steps to the door.

Joyce felt her hands move to her head, smoothing her bobbed, bottle-blonde hair of their own accord. Her formerly lifeless gray eyes flashed in nervous anticipation. Many years had past since she had last held the undivided attention of a handsome, young man.

The chambermaid cast a devilish grin over her shoulder as her slender fingers wrapped around the door knob. Slowly, ever so slowly, she twisted, reveling in her charge’s evident discomfort. At last, when the knob would turn no further, she paused, and tugged open the door.

A khaki flash accompanied the deeply-tanned figure that entered. Joyce only realized she had been holding her breath when she blew it out in disgust.

“This,” she spit. “This is Javier?”

She jerked an indignant thumb at the same rumpled, middle-aged landscaper who had been working in the backyard moments earlier.

“Yep,” the chambermaid answered. “And he’s here to plunge the hall toilet.”

“I, I don’t understand,” Joyce stammered.

“It’s really quite simple, Ms. DeMannon,” the chambermaid replied. “Javier here is the landscaper, plumber, electrician, A/C tech and general handyman. When stuff breaks, he fixes it.”

“But what about my cabana boy,” Joyce wailed.

“There is no maid service, Ms. DeMannon,” the chambermaid continued, removing her “Beatrice” name tag and dropping it into a blouse pocket. “There is no 24 hour gym. There is no Olympic pool. There is no mint on the pillow, and there is, most assuredly, no cabana boy.”

“But, but,” Joyce sputtered.

“This is a rental townhome, Ms. DeMannon, not the Hyatt,” the listing agent informed the stricken tenant.

She withdrew her Planet Real Estate pin from another frilly pocket of the ridiculous blouse and affixed it where the other had been, effectively ending the ruse.

“Your agent would have done well to direct you to one of our wonderful local resorts if you require concierge service,” she chastised. “Perhaps, those accommodations might be a bit more to your liking than our modest eight hundred dollar a month condo.”

“I get it,” Joyce sneered. “This is about my walk-through list, isn’t it?”

She produced and unfolded a multi-page document from her imitation Coach purse.

A gurgle, followed by a full flush, emanated from the hall bath.

“Ah, yes,” the agent answered. “Your list. From the sound of things, I’d say Javier just took care of it.”

“But there are two hundred and thirty seven items that require immediate attention!”

“Two hundred and thirty six,” the agent corrected. “And we will not be repainting the hallway to a ‘more appealing tan,’ stripping the wallpaper border in the breakfast nook, replacing the vertical blinds with shutters, installing ceiling fans or addressing any of the other assorted nonsense erroneously deemed deficient.”

With that, she turned for the door at the same time the handyman emerged from the bathroom. She paused and looked back at the forlorn tenant before the pair slipped out into the midday sun.

“But if the sh*&^%r backs up again? We’ll send Javier right over.”



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