March 27, 2014
The beach was windy and cold, but more importantly for Hollywood Russell’s bank account, it was off-season. The beach was part of Brigantine Island, just a short hop from Atlantic City, and if you had a car and a mind to do so, you could drive around the perimeter of the island, see the sights, and be back where you started in about fifteen minutes.
Hollywood had been promising Stella Warren, his current not-a-girlfriend, a trip to Atlantic City for what Stella said had been months. Hollywood was sure he had mentioned it off-hand once, and only once (and while distracted by a case, at that) but a promise was a promise and in a P.I.’s line of work, it was important to keep promises. However, for Hollywood Russell, work always came first, and what he was hoping would come next would be a case where he could somehow put this trip to the capital gaming capitol on his expense account. But all of his recent cases were local and Stella was about ready to walk out on him, hence this off-season escape to the shore.
The Brigantine Hotel had seen better days, and Hollywood suspected that those days were around the 1890’s. It was a very tall building, easily the tallest building on the island, and impossible to miss since the rest of the buildings topped out at two stories. Add the fact that this pocket skyscraper was right on the beach, literally, with no other buildings even close, and you had a hotel that screamed “late night horror movie.”
Sand from the beach had blown all over the parking lot, the front steps, and into the lobby. Water from large waves came all the way up and into the back entrance. While Stella oohed and ahhed over the location, Hollywood wondered what kept the hotel from sinking into the ground.
The vacationing detective got their bags from the trunk while Stella turned up her collar against the wind. “It’s too cold out here!” Hollywood grunted something about wearing more clothes and less makeup and led her through the front door.
There was no one there.
To Be Continued