Part Nineteen – A Visit from Mrs. Katherine McSwain
I parked the Jeep and we walked up the stairs toward the main entrance of the hotel. I looked over at the check in desk and there was the clerk from the first night, talking to the janitor from the first night. “Great.” I thought, “These two again.”
“Do you have a pry bar?” Bill asked the janitor as he walked toward them.
“No sir, don’t have no pry bar.” The janitor answered.
“Uh, whatta you need a pry bar for?” asked the obviously stoned clerk.
“What’s your name?” Bill asked the clerk.
The clerk told Bill his name was Steven, but I clearly heard “Spicoli” and started laughing.
“How about a hammer.” Bill asked them both. “You’ve got to have a hammer.”
“Yeah.” Said the Janitor, “There’s a hammer in the tool box.”
“Can you get it for me?” Bill asked. I could tell he was getting annoyed trying to communicate with these two geniuses.
“Sure thing.” Said the janitor and he disappeared behind the counter and into the back room.
“You guys aren’t going to damage anything, are you.” Asked the clerk.
The janitor had returned with the whole tool box. Frustrated, Bill grabbed the tool box from the janitor’s hand and said. “Let’s go.”
I followed Bill up the stairs. When we got to the top of the stairs I heard someone behind me. I looked and both the Janitor and the Clerk had followed me up the stairs.
“Oh.” Said the clerk, “He didn’t mean us when he said let’s go?” I just shook my head and turned toward the door of room 202.
From under the door there was a bright light. I approached the door slowly and put my key card in the lock. The green light came on I turned the handle and opened the door. There was Mrs. Katherine McSwain, bathed in light, and floating a foot above the floor. “Finally.” I thought, “My first ghost.” I turned toward Bill smiling. The Janitor and the Clerk were standing behind him.
“No, No, No, No.” said the Janitor, as he turned and ran back down the hall.
Mrs. Katherine McSwain looked at Bill and pointed to the floor next to the overturned television cabinet. She was floating as if she had been suspended in water.
“What happened in here?” The clerk asked, clearly not focusing on the situation at hand.
Bill opened the tool box and grabbed the hammer. “Stand aside, gentlemen.” He said as he pushed past us and walked to the damaged floor. He looked at Mrs. Katherine McSwain and bowed slightly. She smiled and floated backward to make sure Bill had room to work. Bill pushed the broken television cabinet out of the way with his foot.
He turned the hammer to the claw side and struck the floor. The handle of the hammer promptly broke and the hammer head went flying across the room towards us. I had to push the clerk out of the way as the hammer head sailed an inch from the clerk’s skull.
“I don’t think you should be doing that.” The clerk said to Bill. I turned to the clerk and held my finger up for him to be quiet. “Oh, Ok.” He whispered and made the zipper sign across his lips.
Bill stood on top of the damaged floor, lifted his huge left foot, and slammed it down on the floorboards. Nothing happened.
“Damn.” Bill said. “They don’t make em like this anymore.” He raised his foot again and slammed it down on the floorboards. This time you could hear something crack beneath his foot. One of the boards had given way. Bill looked at Mrs. Katherine McSwain and said, “Here we go.”
He stuck his fingers in the hole left by the broken floorboard. As soon as he did, Mrs. Katherine McSwain disappeared and one hundred years of dust and dirt erupted from the spaces between the boards of the floor. A bright light flashed from under the floor casting shadows on the ceiling and walls of the room. Bill was shielding his eyes from the bright light with one hand, and pulling up on the next board. It finally broke loose with a loud crack and he grabbed the board next to it and broke that one. Then the next and the next until he had opened a hole in the floorboards three feet across.
The light dissipated as Bill reached into the hole in the floor, grabbed something, and started pulling. It took him a few tries, but eventually he pulled a trunk from the hole and sat it down on the floor.
It was a black trunk with brass rivets. It was about half as tall as a normal trunk. It was locked with an ancient looking rusty lock and sealed all around the seam with a red waxy like substance.
I grabbed a screwdriver from the toolbox and rushed over to the trunk. I started to pry the lock open and as I did the lock fell apart in a rusty heap. I flipped up the latch and tried to open the lid of the trunk. It would not open. I used the screwdriver to poke at the wax seal on the seam where the lid met the body of the trunk. It was slow work but I eventually got most of the wax chipped away. I pulled on the lid again and this time the lid opened with the hiss of trapped air. Some nasty smelling white dust flew from the opening. I flipped the lid all the way open and turned to look at Bill. I noticed the clerk had backed completely out of the room and into the hall. He was covered in dirt and dust.
“Ladies and gentlemen.” Said Bill. “I give you Mrs. Katherine McSwain”
“I’ll be a son of a bitch.” I muttered when I saw what was in the trunk. There were two mummified bodies inside. One was clearly a human and had been bound in the fetal position to fit inside the trunk, the other was an animal. I knew right away it was the body of the white poodle. Both were wrapped in like a traditional mummy. Filling in the rest of the space in the trunk were several broken blue mason jars with what appeared to be dirt in them.
“It’s their organs.” Bill whispered in my ear, reading my mind again.
Room 202 was a disaster and after a few seconds of silence, Spicoli said, “You’re going to have to pay for this.”
Bill and I looked at each other and broke up with laughter.