Would they be warned in time?
March 1, 2014
A VG Serial: Dark Continent Continental
“Pardon me,” Phomello said to the desk clerk. “I am inquiring about rooms for some visitors I am expecting. I have noticed that the doors to all of your units open onto the street. Do you have any rooms with other types, more private, entrances?”
“All of our rooms have two entrances. There are street entrances, and rear entrances that open into the common covered atrium,” the desk clerk responded.
Phomello sank visibly, and his eyes became as large as the flapjacks at Waffle House. The desk clerk pointed to a diagram on an easel that clearly showed this. Phomello hurried to the car where Dube was waiting and climbed in the passenger’s seat.
“I called you to come, because I am worried. I have not seen any activity at the room in many hours. No room service or anything. Our friend’s old car is still out front. A light is still on in his room. I just checked, and all the rooms do have other inside entrances, as well. Do you think he could have given us the slip, Dube?” Phomello asked in a grim tone of voice.
“Hmmmmm. It may be possible. I will go ask another question at the desk. This time you stay here, to prevent suspicion,” Dube answered.
Phomello agreed. “Yes, it might not be good for them to see me again, so soon.
The equatorial sun bore down like the iron in the hand of Dube’s ancient mother, pressing clothes. There was not even a slight breeze. He walked briskly to the front desk of the motel Dr. Reginald Glastonbury called home, when he was in Africa. “Excuse me,” said Dube. “I am inquiring for friends to find out if you have a courtesy car to the airport.”
The clerk replied. “Yes, we do. It is free of charge for our guests, but for your information, generous tips to the driver are expected and usually given. You might pass that along.”
“Thank you,” Dube responded, then, went back outside in the hot heat. He counted the outside doors down the row until he got to the spot where Reggie’s old black bomb was parked. There were nine. When he was sure the front desk clerk was engrossed in a conversation with his paramour and turned in the other direction, he snuck past the desk into the atrium area. He then counted nine doors down. He saw a full glass of iced tea on an abandoned room service tray and grabbed it up. He tapped lightly on the ninth door. Nothing. He tapped again, louder. There was no response. He continued to tap as he glanced about anxiously.
* * *
“Oh, Dube, that is so scary. What would you do if he opened the door?” Phomello asked him, when he returned.
“I would hold out the glass of tea and say, ‘This is for you!’ Then I would correct myself and say, ‘So sorry, I believe I am at the wrong room.’
Then, I would leave quickly. He is not in there, I am almost sure—unless he is dead or in the shower or something.”
“We have made a terrible mistake,” Phomello confessed. We must call Angus and Skeeter and warn them. Reginald Glastonbury has probably given us the slip and may have gone to the airport, after all.”
“You are right, Phomello. This is scary. And when did he go? How long has he been gone? I hope we can warn Mr. Angus and Skeeter in time.”
Phomello got out his cell phone.
Chapters of Dark Continental by Sara Marie Hogg will be published on Saturday and Sunday.