He was 5'11", in a white sporty shirt and khakis. He stopped a few feet after passing the glass door, turned around, and gave me a long look. He waved. I waved back. He turned around and kept walking.
Over the next five minutes, he walked by the glass door two more times, and then he came into the gym.
The hotel gym is rectangular, just big enough to fit three treadmills, two exercise bikes, and a couple of weight machines. I was in the corner on one of the bikes, next to the glass door. There was no one else in the room. After the baseball cap wearing guy came in from the far door, he stood ten feet away, watching the football game playing on the television.
He started making chitchat with me. He's in town to watch a football game with his favorite team. I asked where he's visiting from.
Me: "What do you do there?"
Him: "I work for the Department of Homeland Security."
Normally I would just smile politely. But it's Honesty Week, so...
Me: That's a terrible, terrible organization! You are a terrible, terrible person!
But I was smiling, so he didn't take it too badly. He asked if the pool was open, if the hotel has a jacuzzi, if I would like to go to the jacuzzi with him. I said no, yes but it's closed, and no thanks. If I were truly following Honesty Week, I would have said, "It's nice having a cute guy talk to me during my boring workout. But nothing is going to happen, because I'm not up for any kind of sketchy hookup with a stranger in a foreign town."
But I didn't.
I noticed he was keeping his left hand in his pocket. I made a point to look at his hand the next time he took it out. As I suspected, a metallic band flashed on his ring finger.
It's Honesty Week. So I decided to confront him.
Him: "Can I convince you to go to the pool with me?"
Me: "You're flirting with me, but you're married. What's up with that?"
Him: [sheepishly] "Yeah. It's kind of bad, isn't it?"
Me: "Well, would you be upset if your wife was also in a gym hitting on someone, the way you are right now?"
Me: "Then yes, it's bad!"
Him: "[mumbling] I don't know. I just saw you in here, and I wanted to come in and talk to you."
Me: "Why are you doing that when you're married?"
... A few more minutes of this, during which he said he's been married for five years, and that he and his wife are separated (yet they still live together) ...
Him: [long pause] "I guess I shouldn't bother you any more. Sorry. I'll just go now. [starting to walk away]"
Me: "Good night. I hope you enjoyed your football game."
Him: "Good night."
His footsteps disappeared out the far door toward the pool area. I returned back to my book, an excellent guide on writing mystery novels.
Five minutes later, I heard the door creak again.
Him: "I've decided it doesn't matter that I'm married. I'd rather come back and hit on you."
Me: "No! Go call your wife and work on your marriage!"
Him: "Can't I just stay here instead and hit on you?"
Him: "Fine. Fine, I'll leave you alone."
He walked out. The door closed.
A minute later...
Him: [walking back into gym] "I couldn't leave. I had to come back and talk to you some more."
It began to dawn on me that I was alone in the gym with this persistent guy past midnight. A pit of nervousness developed in my stomach.
Two men in orange football jerseys walked by outside. They saw baseball-cap guy through the glass door, and made gestures at him. He left the gym to go talk to them.
I decided this was my chance to leave. I exited the door and walked through the pool area. A few steps from the pool gate, I looked up and spotted the three men in the distance. They were standing right in front of my hotel room door. I pictured what would happen if I walked into my room in their view. At 2am, I would get a knock on the door. "Are you sure I can't just come hit on you?"
I walked back into the gym and drank a glass of water. When I came out, the coast was clear. I slipped out the pool gate toward my room.
And nearly ran into baseball-cap guy, coming from a side walkway back toward the gym.
"Do you want to go for a run?" he said.
"No," I said. "I'm just going back to my room."
I then walked straight past my room, toward the lobby.
I spent the next five minutes walking in a huge circle around the perimeter of the hotel. Every couple of minutes, I glanced behind me to make sure he wasn't following me.
When I decided it had been long enough, I turned around back toward my room.
Just as I passed the parking lot, I heard a screeching of tires behind me. I turned around. A grey car pulled to the curb near me, fifteen feet away. The back door opened as the car was lurching to a stop, and a man in an orange jersey tumbled out. I recognized him as one of the guy's friends. Someone in the front seat yelled very loudly, piercing the night with his shouts, "Roll! Roll!"
I spun around and ran full-speed back to my hotel room.
So I guess I went for that run after all.
When I reached my door, during the few seconds after I inserted my room key into the lock and was waiting for the three LEDs to flash, I looked behind me. There was no one.
It was uncorrelated, possibly. Maybe his friends convinced him to give up talking to me, and play some game where they tumble out of cars. Maybe his friend was about to vomit, and they pushed him out of the car.
These theories did not ease my nervousness while I stared at the door lock. Never have I so welcomed the green flash of an LED light activation.
I was grateful for the hotel room having a deadbolt.