She came to the concierge office and announced herself in the afternoon as newly arrived from The States. We all knew what she’d hope to find when she went to the herr doktor’s room. The scent of another woman’s perfume, maybe a bit of lingerie, certainly the remaining aroma of another woman’s sex. A wife’s concerns, like radar, must be inborn and hers were no different.
Frau Brund corrected me, but because there is no Ms. in the German language, women are forced to be one way or the other. Naturally Ms. Brund had that butched-up, filling figure with too much jewelry and make-up with the chopped hair of the fully liberated. Both Ms. Brund and her sisters in spirit are seen at the hotel, often doing what she just did. It’s to be expected.
Of course he cheated on his wife, and afternoon sex must be the very best of all. We delivered a bottle of 2004 Clos d’Ambonnay and half of kilo of beluga caviar off-property to the boat house. There are ways to do these things and Swiss hoteliers have been at it longer than the American woman’s ancestors had been living in the Great Melting Pot.
We gave her a key to his room after checking her passport, without calling our guest. His instructions. He remained a step ahead. As much of a predator as herr doktor was where his taste in women was concerned, his wife must have had confidence in her own, honing her skill to a fine art with the great man as her prey, and half of his bank account as the prize.
She came back to the desk, frustrated by the immaculate room, windows open and a breeze coming in across Lake Zurich from the Alps. “I’ve been around town. The shopping is not as good as in Cannes or Monte Carlo.” Frau Brund didn’t look me in the eye through those overly blue contact lenses.
“May the hotel be of some assistance?”
She huffed, rich, indulged, annoyed, “When is Doctor Mark Brund due back?”
“I wouldn’t know, Mrs. Brund. He seems to work very hard. Always rushing here or there with academics and bankers. Then again, this is Switzerland. It’s what we do.”
“We don’t do that in California.” She had a sense of vulgarity about her in much the same way as the Housewives of Beverly Hills do in that American reality show that the young people watch and try and imitate — an annoying whine to her voice that would do the Kardashians or their father, now a famous woman, proud.
“I hope to visit one day,” I replied with maximum cheer. “You know he did say something about taking the train down to Lake Cuomo for the afternoon. A meeting with Italian industrialists perhaps? You could always call him.”
She did that very thing, and his assistant answered, a former British sergeant major who ran interference for him in a number of matters, not the least of which was this one. Looking at me, narrow-eyed, she said, “Lake Cuomo?”
She rummaged through her purse. “I must be out of cigarettes.”
I reached into my desk and offered her an unopened pack of Gauloises.
“I smoke Marlboro’s.”
“I’m sure that we don’t carry that brand.” Before I finished the sentence, she pivoted and walked toward the entrance to the hotel and a taxi.
In this business, one must be able to anticipate our guest’s needs and be prepared to act on those needs. It’s a boutique hotel, private driveway, no signs, none of the vulgarity of mass market. Dr. Brund ordered fine champagne for them both and caviar because his Russian mistress liked it. I don’t know if she liked the taste or the fact that he bought it for her. He commented to me that he’d have preferred something else and suggested that including it in the gift basket that we sent to the suite that his wife just searched was a waste. I took note. That’s my job.
The boat house is rented to special guests of the hotel. It’s an old, scaled down Belle Epoque style villa that kisses the shore of Lake Zurich. There is a small jetty and an indoor dock with power boats. The water in the indoor dock is heated in winter and it doubles as a swimming pool when the boats are lifted and stored overhead during the winter.
Unless you were familiar with the arrangements that our guests made, you wouldn’t think that anyone lives in the boat house unless they hide in the dark, behind the gossamer drapes. Guests of the boat house don’t bask on the balconies. At most they might use one of the wooden Bosch power boats to entertain on the water. We almost always have notice of boat use because the guests ask the kitchen to pack a lunch or snacks for the sunset. Dr. Brund’s, ah, niece, the fetching Russian movie star, a former ballerina with piercing blue eyes and a body that defied gravity, didn’t plan an afternoon on the water. As much of a predator as Ms. Brund was, Nina Netrekebo lived on a different plane of existence. The difference between the two women was the same difference as exists between scruffy aggressive house cat and a young Siberian tiger.
I haven't been to Zurich, but I like Lake Cuomo. It's probably taken over by the Kardashians now, and ruined.
Zurich is one of my very favorite cities. As I am ethnic Swiss, Bern is the ancestral home, but it's hard not to feel the same way about Zurich. There are a lot of Muslims (rich ones) in the Zurich area, but once you get out into the more rural cantons, life gets more normal…not so many Kardashians and places that Oprah doesn't visit. I think that it's much the same with Cuomo Province. I prefer Lake Maggiore and Porto Valtravaglia in Lombardy Province precisely because there are fewer Kardashians. However for the story, the train that runs to Lugano and Cuomo every hour from Zurich simply fit the narrative. So I went with it.
Maggiore is/was neat — I went there once with a former Gurkha officer (WWII vintage). Had a lot of fun. There were lots of British expats living in the hills, which sounds primitive but wasn't…
Not primitive at all. Nice villas, slow lifestyle. Fishing is good in the lake and you can own and ride your horse around. Lombardy is one of those places that people bypass – which is good for residents and people like me/you and I, who have the privilege of a visit now and again.
Swiss? Oh. I thought you said you was swift.
No, my body is built for sex, not speed . Swiss, definitely Swiss. You never see a Swiss guy in the Olympics lapping a Kenyan on the track. But the trains run on time, the banks are full of gold and every home has a machine-gun in it with white people who know how to shoot the eye out of a squirrel.
I've only been in Switzerland a few times, and it was always either a stop-over on a direct flight, or to change planes.
I hated the stop-overs because they wouldn't let you off the plane, but the times I got to change planes, there was always a couple of hours between flights, so at least I was able to wander the airports at Geneva and Zurich.
Too bad I wasn't able to actually spend some time in-country, as I'm sure I would have enjoyed it.
It will bend your wallet, but it's a great place.
And one soon to be ex-, while #??? is in the wings, or boat house in this case 🙂
first time here, I think, but not my last. Great writing, wonderful details, enchanting story. Can you tell I am impressed?
The next ex in the boat house? Likely.
Thanks for dropping by Pigpen – you're always welcome.
Or perhaps the concierge was making out pretty good, too. Financially that is.
As concierges do the world round.
One thing I learned early in my rather limited "World Travels", is that if you want something, anything, see the concierge.
If he can't get it for you, he probably has a "friend" who can….
It's the first duty of a concierge, who is a "fixer".
and the PA is a concierge by another name… killer job, but you have to be able to run really fast in high heels…
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