It didn’t matter what she did this vacation so long as she wouldn’t have to work in her Uncle’s Hoedown Hotel like last summer.
In hindsight, Miranda should have known better and gone with her gut but she wanted to be helpful to her family and maybe even earn their trust back. No, she didn’t feel like disclosing how she had managed to obliterate her parents’ trust in one night but she could share that she was nineteen years old and let you do the math.
It was a typical day on the job, which paid minimum wage (as Miranda repeatedly highlighted to me). She had considered her Uncle to be rather stingy with her salary and possibly even taking advantage of her generosity and relative obligations until she actually stepped foot inside the hotel. It was then that she understood that maybe the low wage was all he could afford. Ignoring the awful and she reiterated TERRIBLE business name for her generation, her Uncle’s business had survived by the skin of its faux leather: rugs…drapes…throws… chairs…and mugs she would never forget the mugs. Miranda noted that she had never seen faux leather mugs before but made sure not to drink from them, for fear of the pathogenic party suddenly relocating. She was grateful for the small mercy of her parents’ car so she could go home each day, despite her Uncle’s offer for her to stay at the hotel for free. Miranda had judged the risk of being seen in the family’s old banger of a ride, to be less than the hotel mattresses. She was certain that she would be greeted by crawling friends.
Miranda opened the hotel an hour earlier for the public but by the afternoon she still had not seen a single person wander past. She didn’t blame them it had been a cracker of a day that only felt humid if you were stuck inside like her. This was not an assumption, she had ventured outside in her regulatory cowboy hat and boots filled with good intentions before being resigned to the reception by her Uncle. He had reprimanded her for her non-uniform daisy dukes and a crude comment about only the rooms being for sale. Miranda didn’t rise to it she knew she would tell her parents later and her Uncle had never faired well with her father.
Just when Miranda began to feel the onset of mind-numbing boredom, in walked a peculiar man. He was dressed in what Miranda presumed was a hoedown costume but she decided it was best that she didn’t ask, in case his attire had absolutely nothing to do with the theme of the hotel.
‘Howdy pretty lady, I’m looking for a place to stay,’ Miranda wanted to laugh at the forced sound of his voice but on closer inspection he wasn’t too harsh on the eyes, once she got past his questionable style. The look might have worked a century ago but seemed very eccentric that day.
‘Yes, we have rooms from eighty to two hundred, which would you like?’ The man rifled in his pockets but appeared to come up empty. This forced him to go through his purse with a fancy lock that he struggled to open. The man’s frustration with the lock caused his black hair to move unnaturally to one side. I knew it Miranda had guessed right the man was wearing a toupee and she only just managed to stifle her laugh at the striking contrast of the sun kissed brown curls that had escaped. When the visitor finally opened his purse he gave an image of shock as he spluttered ‘you beaut’ then caught himself and stated,
‘I’ll take your best room.’
He handed Miranda a stack of notes that he didn’t bother to count and eagerly took the key she gave him in return. Miranda walked around the reception to take the man’s bag upstairs but as she placed her hand on his suitcase the man became slightly unnerved,
‘Uh don’t worry little lady, I can’t have you doing that I’ll take my own bags.’ Miranda shrugged and regained her position at the reception desk. She tried to distract herself from staring at the man, as he struggled to pull his bags up the first flight of stairs. She heard the thud of a collision on the second flight of stairs too.
The man reappeared before Miranda could phone her Uncle and tell him the good news, she quickly placed the phone down out of view.
‘Hi, how can I help you?’ Miranda queried. The visitor who she noticed had taken the time to readjust his wig leaned towards the counter and spoke.
‘I…uh was wondering if you could help me with something.’ He pulled out a picture that looked like it had been drawn by a young child.
‘I was wondering if you had seen this person. I’m an undercover officer you see.’ Miranda didn’t believe him at all it didn’t make sense for him to go by a drawing where was the real evidence?
‘Umm, I haven’t seen anyone that looks like that today,’ Miranda hoped she sounded more convincing than him. If she was completely honest the picture looked like it could be him in the face but the stick legs were a riot that she fought to keep at a low simmer.
‘Well, if you do see this person or anyone looking for them please give me a call. I hate to drop you in it but they’re quite dangerous so the sooner we get them off the street the better.’ The guest nodded when she had agreed to call him but Miranda doubted that anyone else would stop by on a day like that. Miranda went back to the mundanity of reception and was counting the stains on the tiles when another officer entered wearing his uniform.
‘Hello, I was wondering if you could help me? I’m looking for someone,’ said the officer. He mentioned that this was very serious as they were wanted for several murders before producing a photograph of a woman with long blonde hair called ‘Larreh Snider’. The officer informed Miranda that he would look around. As the officer ventured outside, down came the odd guest after throwing his suitcase first.
‘Actually, I’m going to stay with my cousin. Do you know what direction would take me to Gylnn?’ The guest was jumpy and impatient they didn’t wait for Miranda’s reply. Instead he walked quickly towards the door before running with his suitcase dragged behind him. He turned left, right and then left again.
Once the visitor was out of sight, Miranda walked round the reception to collect the picture that had fallen in the chaos. On the back was written too m mummy love James in a child’s handwriting and James Snider in refined handwriting. Miranda flicked through the hotel’s guest book and read Harrel Redins. She repeated it to herself several times before she wrote it down noting the letters that matched.
She had come face-to-face with a dangerous woman.
Copyright Teherah Wheeler (©) 2016
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