“Take this here,” said Cándida, speaking to her trainee in soft Spanish so as not to disturb or be comprehended by the Anglos still sleeping off hangovers nearby. “Bed unmade, one pillow propped up, and the comforter thrown across the room to cover the air conditioner. What do you think made it like this?”

“Hm,” said Silvia. “Well, I think that maybe the gentleman wanted to read in bed, so he propped up the pillow. And it’s been warm these past few days, so he threw the comforter over there because it was too hot.”

“Maybe,” said Cándida. “But that’s awfully naive–and awfully tame. When you’ve been here awhile, you’ll see it differently. We cleaners notice things that other people don’t.”

“Well, what do you see here?” Silvia asked.

“It was a booty call, and things got so rough that he needed to put a pillow up to keep from bashing his brains out on the headboard. And he threw the comforter across the room in a fit of passion–or, more likely, to make his pretty little girlfriend think it was passion, which would make her less likely to tell her husband about it.”

“Does everyone who works here get that cynical?” said Silvia, beginning to gingerly pull the sheets off the hotel bed.

“Sooner or later,” said Cándida. “But I’m sure that my version is the right one.”

A knock at the door interrupted her. “Hey, can I tiptoe in?” said the Anglo lady standing there. “I forgot my book.”

Silvia folded her arms and gave Cándida a self-satisfied look as the woman retrieved a novel from the bedside drawer nearest the propped up pillow.

“Come on, honey! It can’t be called sex on the beach if the tide has come in!” Another Anglo, this one in a bikini and thong, was at the door.

“Coming, honey!” The other woman skipped off carrying her book, leaving Cándida with an expression that was half-surprised, half-smug.

“Let’s call that one a draw,” said Silvia.

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