Alfonso XIII was a small four‑star hotel set back from the Puerta de Jerez and surrounded by a thick wrought‑iron fence and lilacs. David made his way up the marble stairs. As he reached for the door, it magically opened, and a bellhop ushered him inside.
“Baggage, senor? May I help you?”
“No, thanks. I need to see the concierge.”
The bellhop looked hurt, as if something in their two‑second encounter had not been satisfactory. “Por aqui, senor.” He led Becker into the lobby, pointed to the concierge, and hurried off.
The lobby was exquisite, small and elegantly appointed. Spain’s Golden Age had long since passed, but for a while in the mid‑1600s, this small nation had ruled the world. The room was a proud reminder of that era‑suits of armor, military etchings, and a display case of gold ingots from the New World.
Hovering behind the counter marked conserje was a trim, well‑groomed man smiling so eagerly that it appeared he’d waited his entire life to be of assistance. “En que puedo servirle, senor? How may I serve you?” He spoke with an affected lisp and ran his eyes up and down Becker’s body.
Becker responded in Spanish. “I need to speak to Manuel.”
The man’s well‑tanned face smiled even wider. “Si, si, senor. I am Manuel. What is it you desire?”
“Senor Roldan at Escortes Belen told me you would—”
The concierge silenced Becker with a wave and glanced nervously around the lobby. “Why don’t you step over here?” He led Becker to the end of the counter. “Now,” he continued, practically in a whisper. “How may I help you?”
Becker began again, lowering his voice. “I need to speak to one of his escorts whom I believe is dining here. Her name is Rocio.”
The concierge let out his breath as though overwhelmed. “Aaah, Rocio‑a beautiful creature.”
“I need to see her immediately.”
“But, senor, she is with a client.”
Becker nodded apologetically. “It’s important.” A matter of national security.
The concierge shook his head. “Impossible. Perhaps if you left a—”
“It will only take a moment. Is she in the dining room?”
The concierge shook his head. “Our dining room closed half an hour ago. I’m afraid Rocio and her guest have retired for the evening. If you’d like to leave me a message, I can give it to her in the morning.” He motioned to the bank of numbered message boxes behind him.
“If I could just call her room and—”
“I’m sorry,” the concierge said, his politeness evaporating. “The Alfonso XIII has strict policies regarding client privacy.”
Becker had no intention of waiting ten hours for a fat man and a prostitute to wander down for breakfast.
“I understand,” Becker said. “Sorry to bother you.” He turned and walked back into the lobby. He strode directly to a cherry roll‑top desk that had caught his eye on his way in. It held a generous supply of Alfonso XIII postcards and stationery as well as pens and envelopes. Becker sealed a blank piece of paper in an envelope and wrote one word on the envelope.
Then he went back to the concierge.
“I’m sorry to trouble you again,” Becker said approaching sheepishly. “I’m being a bit of a fool, I know. I was hoping to tell Rocio personally how much I enjoyed our time together the other day. But I’m leaving town tonight. Perhaps I’ll just leave her a note after all.” Becker laid the envelope on the counter.
The concierge looked down at the envelope and clucked sadly to himself. Another lovesick heterosexual, he thought. What a waste. He looked up and smiled. “But of course, Mr . . . ?”
“Buisan,” Becker said. “Miguel Buisan.”
“Of course. I’ll be sure Rocio gets this in the morning.”
“Thank you.” Becker smiled and turned to go.
The concierge, after discreetly checking out Becker’s backside, scooped up the envelope off the counter and turned to the bank of numbered slots on the wall behind him. Just as the man slipped the envelope into one of the slots, Becker spun with one final inquiry.
“Where might I call a taxi?”
The concierge turned from the wall of cubbyholes and answered. But Becker did not hear his response. The timing had been perfect. The concierge’s hand was just emerging from a box marked Suite 301.
Becker thanked the concierge and slowly wandered off looking for the elevator.
In and out, he repeated to himself.