Jim Crace


The Devil's Larder

Here, after midnight on the seventh floor, room service is provided by a refugee. Her name—unlikely consonants, and then too many vowels—is printed on an apron tag. Her face is fiery, peppered by the many sweets she sucks from “late till six” as she sits on her hard chair at what the waiters call the Bus Station. It is her job to collect the ordered trays of food and drink from the service hatch and take them down the corridors—now reeking of cigars, cheap scent and cannabis, and far from silent with the clatterings of one-night stands and thoughtless television sets and arguments—to restless, needy men who ought to be in bed asleep. A man, awake beyond midnight, is unpredictable.