March 31, 2014
If you missed part one, you can read it here.
In a nutshell, Hollywood Russell, private detective, has taken his current female arm candy on an off-season trip to Atlantic City, but the hotel, located on a nearby island, seems utterly deserted. Stella, the aforementioned arm candy, is not impressed.
The Brigantine, as it appeared in Hollywood Russell’s era. (Obviously not off-season.)
Hollywood Russell had hoped that this trip to Atlantic City would be quiet and uneventful and so far it was all that and less.
The front door opened and the wind blew more sand into the lobby, caking it into the well-worn, and in some places worn out, old carpet. Tracking in even more sand as he entered with Stella, Hollywood tried to remember if the old adage was about a chill wind or an ill wind. Deciding he didn’t care, he dropped their bags and looked around.
The large front desk was empty. Hollywood, whose professional instincts never took a vacation, peeked behind it to make sure no one had offed the bellboy and dropped him back there.
There was no one in the lobby at all, dead or otherwise. It was well furnished with the chairs and drapes of an earlier era. There were framed photographs of some distinguished patrons on one wall, and on another was a large, smudgy mirror. In fact, along with the tables, lamps and old ferns, the lobby had everything up to and including the kitchen sink. It stuck out oddly from the wall with the photographs and Stella was struck by the fact that it had three faucets. One was hot, one was cold, and the middle one, a handy card tacked above the sink on the wall explained, was for seawater.
While Stella tried to turn the knobs, and was disappointed that no salt water came out, Hollywood examined the pictures. Some of the people in them were familiar, many not, and most were no more recent than a few decades past. Hollywood saw one man, an actor, famous for playing Indian roles and pointed him out to Stella. He died back in 1929.
Hollywood walked back to the front desk, knocked three times, and sang out “Call for Phillip Morris!”
Ten or fifteen seconds went by, then a door near the desk, partially obscured by a curtain, opened and a man who looked as if may or may not have just come up from cleaning the basement came out and asked “can I help you?”
Hollywood, who was not at all sure he could, judging by the man’s sooty clothes, said “I hope so. We have reservations. Name’s Russell.”
“His name is Russell. My name is Warren, Miss Stella Warren,” she said, emphasizing the Miss.
The sooty employee riffled through the pages of an old ledger, filling it with grimy fingerprints. “Russell… Russell… hmm… oh, here it is, Russell, party of two, one suite, overnight. Room 108, just down the hall.“ He put a key on the desk and turned the book around to face the detective. “Please sign here, Mr. Russell. Last name, first name…?” He left the unspoken question trail in the air.
Russell took the key, signed the book and looked the man in the eye. “First name is Private, middle name’s Investigator. Most people call my Hollywood, but you can call me a bellhop to carry these bags to our room.”
Startled, the man rushed out from behind the desk. “I’ll do it myself, Mister, er, Detective Russell.” He made a grab for the bags but Hollywood beat him to them. “I’ll carry them myself. You can have this.” Hollywood thrust his handkerchief into the man’s dirty, outstretched hand. “Keep the change.”
Hollywood and Stella walked down the hall, counting rooms until they found 108.
To Be Continued