Copyright Oggbashan March 2017
The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
This is a work of fiction. The events described here are imaginary; the settings and characters are fictitious and are not intended to represent specific places or living persons.
I collapsed onto the hotel's double bed absolutely shattered. Apart from jet lag, trying to enforce reasonable behaviour on a drunken minority of last night's Stag Party had been wearing. The noise had been intolerable when most of the hotel's windows were open because it was overheated.
It had taken the last of my energy to shave and shower. The room was much hotter than I wanted. I had made a mental note to contact maintenance in the morning. That was the last I remembered as I sprawled naked across the top of the bed.
I woke up as a heavy body slammed across my back. My mouth was stuffed with a soft material and tied in place. As I tried to struggle my arms were grabbed, pulled behind my back, and my wrists lashed together. My attacker was sitting on my back as my thighs were wrapped and tied. My face was still pressed hard into a pillow as my feet were lifted from the bed, ankles secured and dropped back to the bed. A fist hit me in my stomach. I curled up to avoid another blow. Something was tied under my knees and around the back of my neck forcing me into a foetal position.
"It's your turn to suffer!" A female voice hissed at me. I wriggled to roll over. A large well built woman wearing a maid's uniform glared at me.
"You, or your friends, tied Martine up last night and shut her into a store room. She was there for a couple of hours and frightened stiff. I'll let you go when I've finished this floor. Until then -- see how you like being tied up. And you stuffed her into a dark place."
She rolled a trolley to the side of the bed. There was a large canvas bag for dirty laundry. She rolled and lifted me into the bag before zipping it shut.
I heard her leaving the room. I struggled inside the bag but I had been tied too effectively.
She was back in ten minutes or so. She tipped the trolley on its side and pushed me out on to the bed.
She stood with her hands on her wide hips looking down at my futile struggles. Even surprised as I was I noticed that her dark blue uniform dress was too tight, strained across her breasts, the dress's skirt too short showing thick thighs in dark stockings, and her small white apron more decorative than practical. Her name, Jean, was embroidered across one breast. Her uniform had overtones of a fantasy French maid, not practical wear for a hotel worker. She looked down at me with an expression of contempt.
"Martine was left in the dark for hours." She said. "I left you ten minutes."
She left the room again. I struggled on the bed. She had bound me too effectively, with what? I looked down and then in the mirror over the desk. I was gagged with a maid's waist apron, my hands tied with another with more aprons around my thighs and ankles. Another apron's ribbons were holding me rolled up.
Ten minutes later she was back. She untied the apron around my knees and neck and let me stretch out. My morning erection was standing proud. She flicked my erection with a finger.
"I suppose this means you enjoy sexual bondage," she said. "Martine didn't enjoy last night. If the manager hadn't found her she might have suffocated, and you and your friends would be facing a murder charge, manslaughter at least. But I suppose I'd better untie you. I've already lost this shitty job for tying you up."
She hauled me to a sitting position, pulled my head against her bodice, nearly smothering me in her cleavage as she tried to unknot the apron gagging me.
The room telephone rang. She pushed me back on to the bed, still gagged, and answered it.
"Room 253," she said. "Yes, it's Jean."
Her face went white as she listened.
"Mr Bart is slightly tied up at the moment. I'll pass the message on. His breakfast will be brought to his room in a quarter of an hour, and the manager will be available for Mr Bart at ten o'clock if that's convenient? That the message? OK. Thank you, Helen. I'll tell Mr Bart when he's free."
She put the phone down and turned to face me.
"Oh shit!" she said. "I've really fucked up, haven't I? You're not one of the Stag Party, you're a visiting regional manager, and I've trussed you up like an oven ready chicken. I thought I was... Never mind. Let's get you free and dressed. The shit can hit the fan when you're decent."
She still had difficulty untying the apron gagging me. She had knotted it tight. This time she was gentler as she unknotted the apron around my wrists. She held my head against her clothed breasts. She lowered me to the bed, rolled me over carefully, and removed the rest of the aprons.
"Get dressed, please, Mr Bart. I'm already in enough trouble. I don't want to be found with a naked man."
I didn't say a word. My mouth was too dry from the cotton of the apron gag. I grabbed a plastic beaker, filled it, and rinsed my mouth before swallowing.
"Jean, that is your name isn't it? Explanations can wait. I'll get dressed if you turn your back. When I'm dressed I want you to stay while I eat my breakfast, please."
"Stay? I've lost this sodding job, got it all wrong, and you want me to stay?"
"Jean, sit down!" I ordered as I struggled hurriedly into my clothes. "And shut up!"
"Yes, sir, Mr Bart, sir," Jean's voice was mocking.
"Shut up!" I repeated as I put my suit jacket on. "And sit on the bed!"
Jean had stayed standing. She sat down on the bed.
"Hide those aprons," I said.
Jean stuffed the crumpled aprons under a pillow.
"Thank you, Jean. When my breakfast comes, don't say a word. Understood?"
"OK. I will want to know about what happened to Martine last night. I don't want what you did this morning to be known. Not only would it cost you your sodding job, but it would be embarrassing for me, and more importantly for the hotel chain. So -- we'll pretend it didn't happen. Got that?"
"Yes, Mr Bart," she said quietly. She paused. "You're not like the managers I have met."
"I hope not. Your managers..."
At that point there was a knock at the room door. I opened it. A young man was carrying a large tray.
"Your breakfast, Mr Bart," he said.
"Thank you," I said as he put it on the desk.
He looked at Jean as he turned to leave the room. She gave him a weak smile.
I uncovered my breakfast and poured a cup of coffee.
"Like a coffee, Jean?" I asked.
"Why not?" she said. "I might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb."
"You're not going to be hung, Jean."
I poured the coffee. Jean added cream and a half spoon of sugar to hers.
I talked to Jean as I ate my breakfast.
"Jean, first of all, what happened to Martine last night? I assume she is another maid?"
"Yes. Martine is one of our younger staff. She was twenty-one a week ago. She doesn't normally work the night shift but we are short because there's a stomach bug going around. You know there was a Stag Party here last night?"
"Yes, I am too well aware of that Stag Party, Jean."
"It should have been only in the Conference Suite and nowhere near the guest bedrooms but some of them came into the main hotel corridors."
"How? Only guests should have key cards to get into the accommodation?"
"Yes but the main door from reception to the bedroom corridors has had a broken key card reader for months. You can just push it open and it is obvious because there is a hole where the key card reader should be. It didn't help that someone had propped it open with a fire extinguisher."
"I see," I said, "so the area is insecure?"
"Yes. And about half a dozen of the Stag Party came through. Martine met them on the first floor corridor. She told them they shouldn't be there. They grabbed her, kissed her and then took off her apron. I think they wanted it as a souvenir but one of them thought Martine was making too much noise. He gagged her with it."
"Once Martine couldn't object they went further. They removed her shoes and stockings. They tied her up with her stockings and took her into the store room using her pass key. She thought she was going to be raped. They didn't. They wrapped her up in several sheets, tied her in a mummified bundle and left her in the store room. She was frightened that one or two of them might come back later and rape her. She was there for a couple of hours. The manager came looking for her when she didn't respond to her pager, saw her shoes in the corridor and went into the store room. He released her, took her back to the office. The other two night maids fed her cups of coffee and the manager sent her home by taxi this morning."
"But why did you think I was involved?"
"Martine had seen you with the Stag Party, and later going into your room. She knew that the majority of the Stag Party weren't staying but thought you were one of the few that were."
"Oh dear. Martine was wrong. I was doing exactly as she had tried to do -- to keep the Stag Party within reasonable limits. As a manager, even if not a local manager, I thought it was my duty to help keep the noise and disturbance to a minimum."
"And I picked on one of the good guys..."
"I wouldn't describe me as one of the good guys, Jean. I'm a manager after all, but I wasn't one of those who attacked Martine."
"...But I still tied you up."
"Yes, Jean, very effectively. It seemed as if you might have had practice."
"No comment," she said. "I might incriminate myself."
"No comment is accepted, Jean. But I have a few more questions before I go to see the hotel manager, if you don't object."
"If I can, I'll try to answer, Mr Bart."
"Thank you. First. How long has that door been insecure?"
"Two months I think. We keep complaining about it. So do the guests."
"Second. Why do you wear that uniform? It isn't normal for other hotels in the chain."
"I'm not sure I can answer that. It means criticising someone in the management chain."
"Go on. Be daring. I won't reveal that Jean said a word. Who suggested this uniform?"
"Suggested? No. Ordered. We HAVE to wear it."
"Short skirt, tight fit and skimpy apron?"
"...and stockings with suspenders."
Jean hitched up her skirt to show a suspender.
"So -- who?"
"Mr Tucker. He is the overall manager for the three local hotels."
"Any relation to the Mr Tucker on the Board?"
"Yes -- youngest son."
"And Mr Tucker Senior is more than just a Board member, he is part owner of the hotel company, isn't he?"
"Yes, Mr Bart. We all know that. Mr Tucker Junior doesn't let us forget."
"Jean, do you know that as from next Monday the company will have been sold?"
"No. Why should I? It won't make any difference to me or my colleagues. We'll still be working for low pay and in shitty conditions whoever owns the company."
"But Mr Tucker Senior will no longer be on the Board..."
"...And his son?" Jean didn't sound hopeful.
"Will not have his father's protection and from what I have heard elsewhere, and now from you, isn't like to be employed much longer. Head Office has a thick file of complaints about him..."
Jean was about to say something. I held up my hand to ask her to wait.
"Mainly from customers, not staff. As you know, customer complaints are treated more seriously than staff ones, even though we suspect some of the customer complaints were encouraged by the staff. But I have an appointment with your hotel manager. I'll see you later. There is a staff meeting at 12 noon and another when the shift changes. I'll be telling them about the sale and the changes. One of them will certainly be the uniform..."
Jean surprised me. She wrapped her arms around me, hugged and kissed me.
"Thank you," she said as our lips parted. "This uniform makes our job harder. It encourages some guests to behave badly and is no real protection when we are working."
"The new uniform will be chosen by those who have to wear it, and trousers will be an option."
"I said it before; you're not like our usual managers."
"I hope not, but some of your managers have been unhappy with what they have had to do, rules like the uniform they disliked but couldn't change, and general incompetence. Things will change. They might get better. They should but it will take time."
"I hope things will change, Mr Bart. I, and several others, have considered resigning. We would have done that before if there had been any other jobs in this area. The hotel is close to a motorway junction but only our small village is within reach for staff. If the villagers didn't work here the hotel would have real problems with recruitment."
"I'll bear that in mind, Jean. I appreciate the local staff at all our hotels but this one has had the most customer complaints. The complaints are NOT about the staff but about the facilities and general incompetence. That we've got to change."
"Yes, we. Me and the staff. You've convinced me that I should sort out this hotel personally."
"How did I convince you? My expert bondage?"
"That might have helped, Jean, but no. What I saw last night and what you've told me this morning. You'll find out more at the staff meeting. Now? I've got to see your manager. I'll see you later."
Jean kissed me again.
"Please be gentle with the staff. They have been trying their best but they have been poorly led, and this bloody uniform hasn't helped."
"Thank you, Jean. I'll try."
My meeting with Mr Simpson the manager confirmed what Jean had told me. He produced a large file of maintenance requests that had been ignored, and staff grumbles about the uniform's unsuitability. He personally was going to retire in two weeks' time, and move to what had been his holiday cottage in Devon. I knew he was due to retire. I didn't know it was in such a short time. He had two deputy managers both appointed by Mr Tucker Junior. He didn't hold back his opinion of them as useless incompetents. He showed me their recent annual assessments and several warnings about their inactivity. The assessments had been 'poor, needs urgent improvement'. Both had been amended to satisfactory by Tucker Junior himself. He had also cancelled their warnings.
"Mr Bart," he said, "If I hadn't been so close to retirement I would have applied to another hotel chain a year or so ago. Tucker Junior and his father are the worst aspects of the chain's operation. The father wanted his son to take over a wider regional role but the rest of the board voted that down. Tucker Junior's hotels are the worst run and least profitable and this one is the bottom of the three. It does have problems because of its location and would probably always have a lower occupancy rate than hotels that are better situated but it could do much better. I've tried and failed to persuade the company to move us out of Tucker Junior's remit. This hotel has been neglected and overlooked for years. It needs money spent on it and a wholly new management team."
"Thank you for that, Mr Simpson. I'll do what I can. I hope that both Tuckers will be ex-employees by Monday. Your deputy managers will probably follow. Your reports on them, although overruled, are on file in the Personnel Department. They'll have a choice. Resign now or be fired next month."
"If they are gone before my last day I'd be delighted."
"I'll try. I have another question for you. I met Jean, a chamber maid, today. What is your opinion of her?"
"Jean? She's a Team Leader, not usually a chamber maid. She was covering for someone else. Jean's one of our longer standing staff. She has definite opinions and doesn't mince her words about management. But her statements are fair and reasonable. If... If I were staying on I'd expect her to be promoted to shift supervisor at least. She might have been but my deputies couldn't stand her, nor could she stand their incompetence. She'd never be promoted with those two as managers."
"Anyone else you would consider worth promoting, Mr Simpson? Your recommendations would help me."
"People I would have promoted except..."
"...for the current management?"
Mr Simpson nodded.
"Let me have a list, together with your assessment. Any bad apples?"
"Um. A couple but I think they could improve if I was allowed to give them a kick on their backsides. Not bad, just sloppy and lazy. They're Matthew and Geoff. The other staff call them Mutt and Jeff behind their backs. They and the two managers were some of Tucker Junior's drinking buddies. That is why they were employed. Now the Tuckers have gone? If I had good supervisors and managerial backing I think Mutt and Jeff might become good employees."
"Thank you. One last question. Is there any time in the near future when the hotel has no bookings?"
"Yes. You should already know. In six weeks time the motorway will be closed for major repairs for a weekend, including the nearby junction. The local highways body has decided to repair the major road leading to the motorway so access to the hotel will be very difficult. The only way in and out of the village will be by small rural roads. Normally we would expect some of the motorway engineers or workers but they've block booked a hotel at the next junction. So we'll have no people staying from Friday noon until Monday evening. I had asked for major maintenance work to be scheduled for that weekend but I've had no response."
"Maintenance sounds sensible but we need some things done now, don't we?"
"If possible, Mr Bart, yes. We've needed some things done for months."
"Can you give me a list of those that are urgent and those that could wait until the closure?"
"Of course. I'll get my secretary to give you a printout. I've been sending it to headquarters once a week..."
"...where it has been ignored?"
Mr Simpson nodded.
"I haven't seen it. My remit was for a different area of the country. I'd heard rumours about Tucker junior but he had no responsibility for any of my hotels. When I read the complaints file at Head Office that was an eye-opener. It must have been awkward for you."
"Awkward? He made my working life bloody miserable. I will be glad to retire and get away from the Tuckers."
"You don't need to retire to do that. They will be history within a couple of days."
"It's too late now. My wife and I have made plans for my retirement. I will be pleased if this hotel can be turned around at long last."
"It will be. You and Jean have convinced me that I'm needed here for a while. I'll take over from you as interim manager until we can get a new management team in. I would like that team to be in place immediately after the closure but I might be expecting too much too soon. It might take six months.
The two staff meetings were very quiet. I told them about the change of ownership on Monday but I couldn't say anything about the Tuckers, or their deputy managers. I did say that I would be working with their current manager Mr Simpson and staying on as the Hotel manager when he retired. The uniform would be changed with the staff being consulted on what would replace it. I had printouts of the uniform catalogues used by other hotels in the chain. I had to assure them that they wouldn't be charged for the new uniform. I mentioned that there would be ongoing maintenance in the next few weeks which might cause some disruption. Major work would happen when the hotel was closed in six weeks' time. After my speech I asked for any questions. There weren't any until I made it clear that I would be in the bar available for anyone who wanted to talk to me.