Part Fifteen – Moving Day.
We walked around to the front of the hotel. As we got to the top of the main steps of the hotel, Amber turned and scanned the parking lot, as if she were expecting to see something. Just then we heard a commotion at the front desk. There was a man at the front desk arguing with the clerk. Amber immediately dropped my hand.
“Shit.” She said under her breath and then louder. “He’s found me.” She slowly started walking toward the man at the check in desk and turned back to us. “You two stay here, please.”
Bill and I trailed off to the right of the lobby and stood in front of the fireplace. Neither one of us took our eyes off of the scene at the desk. Amber approached the man and grabbed the sleeve of his jacket. As he turned toward her, I could see his face was red with anger.
“You suppose that’s her husband?” Bill asked.
“Who else.” I said absently as I started to walk toward the counter. Bill put his huge hand on my shoulder again, this time as gently as he could.
Bill then whispered, “It’s her business Ken, let her handle it.”
I could tell they were arguing by the animated way Amber was moving her hands. “His name is Bryan.” I told Bill, as his hand guided me back past the fireplace.
“I promise you Ken.” Bill said a little louder than expected, “If he gets physical, I’ll beat you over there and break both if his fucking arms.” His face was suddenly flush with anger. As if on que, Bryan grabbed Amber’s wrist and started pulling her toward the entrance.
Before either of us could move, we saw Natasha running from the doorway. She had been watching from the porch and I don’t think she knew Bill and I were in the room. She stopped in front of Bryan and yelled something unintelligible. Bryan stopped in his tracks, still holding Amber’s arm. A black object suddenly appeared in Natasha’s hand. With a flick of her wrist the object lengthened to about two and a half feet. It was a baton. Natasha flicked the baton at Bryan so quickly you could barely see the blow. Bryan immediately dropped Amber’s wrist and grabbed his hand. Then with pin point accuracy, Natasha struck Bryan behind his knee, sending him to the ground.
Before she could strike again, Bill made three large strides toward Natasha and pushed her away from Bryan. I ran up behind Amber as she turned toward me. “I don’t want this.” She said through her tears and turned back toward Bryan who was trying to get back to his feet.
“You’ll have to excuse my daughter.” Bill said addressing Bryan, “But where we’re from, we don’t man handle women.”
Ignoring Bill, Bryan said “You’re going to be sorry you did that, Bitch!” Bill grabbed Bryan on the side of his neck and Bryan winced in pain.
“Say something like that again and I’ll break your collarbone.” Said Bill.
Bryan raised his hand to indicate he was surrendering and turned towards Amber, “Who the hell are these freaks.?” He asked Amber, as held his wrist. Amber grabbed his hand and walked him back to the elevator then she turned and walked back towards us.
“I appreciate your help, he’s an asshole, but I don’t want him dead just yet.” She said to Natasha, and then turned toward me. “I’ll call you soon.” She walked back to Bryan, pressed the elevator button, and helped Bryan through the doors.
“Honey, I’m glad you were here, but what were you doing out there? Bill asked Natasha.
“That white poodle is running around out there.” She said. “I think its Ken’s dog.”
“Show me.” Bill said and grabbed the top of my head and turned me toward the door.
I was still thinking about Amber when Bill led me outside. Natasha had run down the steps and was already standing in the parking lot of the Hotel. “I swear, he was out here.” Natasha said. She started jogging up and down the parking lot whistling loudly for the dog.
“I’ll bet Ken would like you to stop doing that Honey.” Bill shouted to Natasha from across the parking lot. “I don’t think Ken likes that dog.” His booming voice traveled to the mountains and back again in a muted echo. Natasha started walking back our way.
“Well, this is his chance to prove it.” She said, out of breath.
I looked at Natasha and smiled.
“It’s her party Ken.” Bill said, “Let her figure it out for herself. Did you hear Mary Jane? She said she saw your white poodle.”
“I swear, Ken, that damn dog was here just a few minutes ago. He was running in that field right there.” She said, as she pointed to the patch of grass beyond the parking lot. She began walking toward the other end of the parking lot, scanning to see if she could find the dog. “Dad?” She asked him, expecting for him to tell her what was happening. She started walking toward the grassy area where she saw the dog.
“This time I’m stumped.” Said Bill, “No one is talking.”
It took me a half a second to understand what he was saying. He was not hearing the spirit voices.
Again, as if he were reading my thoughts. “Haven’t heard a word since last night’s show.” He said. “This is the first time in years that I have my head all to myself. It’s quiet, and I like it.”
“Do you think it has something to do with my situation?” I asked as I gestured toward the hotel. “Maybe this is my fault?” I thought for a moment and finally asked, “Can you tell what I’m thinking Bill?”
Bill laughed, “Not part of the deal.” He said, “I have always been able to read people though. I’m not right all the time, about seventy five percent.”
“Well you’re making A’s with me.” I told him, “You better corral Natasha before she gets lost.” Natasha was now in the road past the grass, still looking for the dog.
“Let’s go kid!” Bill shouted. Again, echoing off the mountains. Natasha looked up and started running back up the hill towards us.
As she approached, I noticed she still held the baton in her hand. She pushed the baton to its original length and it disappeared up the sleeve of her coat. I didn’t have to wonder what she meant to do to the dog. Out of breath she said, “I swear, I saw a fucking white poodle out there.” She pointed toward the grass again.
“Well, that’s awful nice of you Natasha” I said, “Now they won’t think I’m the only crazy one in the hotel.”
She patted me on the shoulder and pushed both Bill and I toward the steps of the Hotel. “Call me Nat.” she said.
Bill looked at her disapprovingly, “What’s this Nat business? That’s not the name your sainted mother gave you, sweetie.”
“It’s Natasha dad.” She corrected him. “It’s my new stage name, thanks to Ken.” She pushed us both in the back, directing us up the stairs. “Going to your room, right?”
“Ivan and Natasha.” Said Bill, “I like it.”
“Should be Boris and Natasha.” I quietly said.
We arrived at room 202 and I opened the door.
Bill walked over and sat on the edge of the bed. He started laughing. “I get it.” He chuckled,
“Boris and Natasha, The Rocky and Bullwinkle show, right?” He could tell that Natasha was confused, “Google it Honey.” He said.
Natasha and I sat down in the two arm chairs. “Stop dwelling on it Ken.” Bill said. “You’ll find out soon enough.”
“Yeah, I know.” I replied and tried to change the subject, “All I have is beer.”
I walked to the bathroom and grabbed three cans out of my Coleman cooler. I handed Natasha a can and tossed a can to Bill. The can was dwarfed by his hand. I halfway expected him to raise a pinky when he took a sip. I had to do that when I played tea party with my daughters. “Raise your pinky daddy.” They would remind me. I suddenly remembered I had not talked to either of them in over two weeks.
Bill finished his beer and got up from the end of the bed. He walked across the room and into the bathroom. “I hate these showers.” He said. “I have to bend over to wash my hair.”
“Not everyone can afford custom showers dad.” Said Natasha. She was either politely nursing her beer or she didn’t like beer.
He walked out of the bathroom, still carrying his empty can. I grabbed the trash can next to my chair and held it up. Ken dropped the can in the trash and walked over to the bed. Without warning, Bill grabbed the footboard with one hand and slid the entire bed to the other side of the room. “Dad!” Said Natasha, “You’re going to wreck this floor.”
“Looks like it’s already wrecked.” Bill replied. He was staring down at the floor that would have been under the bed. The floor was worse than before. There were deep scratches in the floor and large splinters coming from some of the floorboards. The damaged area was much larger than I remember. It had grown to a two by four-foot area.
“What is going on in here, Ken?” Natasha said as she got up and walked to the damaged area. She bent down and picked something up that was lying near the damaged area between large scabs of dried yellow slobber. She held it up to the light. “The dogs toenail?” She asked, as she tossed the claw over to me.
“Bill.” I asked, “What do they call creatures that can be in the spirit world and the physical world?” I tossed the claw on the table next to me, wiped my hand on my shirt, and got another nasty whiff of that wet dog smell.
“Ghosts.” Bill answered.
We sat in silence and finally, Natasha said “Dad, we need to get going so we can get ready for tonight’s show.”
“You go ahead, I’ll catch up with you.” said Bill. When Natasha had left the room, Bill slid the television cabinet over the damaged floor and positioned it so I could watch television from the bed. “You need to start being straight with me Ken. Tell me why you came to The Stanley Hotel.” Somehow, he had taken the pill bottle off the nightstand and he tossed it over to me.