To these haunted places,
where the recklessness of youth
and the wisdom of age still meet.
Copyright © 2017 Stanley Laine
All rights reserved.
Cover design and original artwork by Lena Grzesik.
All life is useless energy. Even the radiant peacock strutting at the side of the road amounts to nothing more than an indistinguishable splatter of black silt in the end. We wake to preen our feathers, to dress and eat and do all the things required so that we can wake and dress and eat only to live another day, but it amounts to nothing of permanence, no matter how hard we try convincing ourselves otherwise. It is the cruel, divine law of nature. Are not the gigantic creatures that once roamed this earth long before us now reduced to mere crumbled remnants plastered into the cold stone walls that surround us? What chances do we have then? We pray openly to our gods that there will be something more than this life when it is our precious necks getting squeezed between the rubber and the road, but on all accounts we know in our hearts it is all one big fantastic delusion.
Or so I believed until the summer of 1990 when I crossed paths with an acquaintance I had not seen for some time who told me the haunting story of those missing years of his life and I became unwittingly involved in an extraordinary chain of events that shattered the foundations of my beliefs to their very core.
When I arrived in the grand but aging lobby of the French Lick Springs Hotel, I was devastated to learn that a reunion of Ivy Leaguers having returned home to Indiana from the east for the summer had reserved the entirety of two floors in one wing. Looking back across the lobby I surveyed a boisterous gaggle of them standing inside the double glass doors blocking the entry of other guests who were arriving with equally aghast expressions as the young men were putting their arms around each other loudly posing for a picture in front of the bellman’s stand.
“Please put me as far away from that lot as possible,” I insisted upon checking in with the demure front desk attendant who was now grinning cautiously in complete understanding beneath her round nose as I added, “I might be inclined to murder the whole bunch of them.” She blurted out a laugh like a hiccup that caught her quite by surprise before I asked, “Will they be staying the entirety of the week?”
“Only for the weekend,” she offered in an equally relieved whisper.
I nodded and taking my key I found my way along the sixth floor of the south wing where my room overlooked the springhouse and the lush hillside behind it covered in tall pines. This glorious hotel, an old relic of the Gilded Age, with its meandering hallways and secret passages, an art deco collage frozen in time but slowly untended over the decades, the layers chipping away bit by bit against the steady march of time. Nestled in a naturally picturesque but otherwise architecturally bleak landscape of this distant, isolated valley, the top floor of the hotel rises slightly above the surrounding hills like some sort of lone skyscraper stands amidst the crumpled remains of a once soaring and glorious city.
As I lay on my back in the soft bed of Room 607 there was a refreshingly cool breeze coming down through the valley and pushing the gauzy white shears over an orange upholstered chair positioned just beneath the tall, single pane windows. A wasp had made its way inside to begin bouncing its crisp shield along the edge of the drapes as they breathed in and out, drifting away and then back toward the floral wallpaper surrounding them.
I paused to consider a time when a different body lay in this very spot, an era long before I existed when flappers crept down the extensive halls of this hotel, silver dresses shimmering in the dark like a school of fish as they moved quickly along believing their lurid intoxication could ever swim upstream unnoticed by some hungry bear.
Hearing those flappers creeping along just outside the door, their breathless whispers, incandescent laughter, reckless suggestions; those voices remain only in the echoes on the other side of that door which separates us now, long since returned to a complete state of obsolescence like a dappled pink and white rose hidden within the morning mist. Those flappers must have thought themselves important too. They must have believed themselves grand; the naked invincibility of their youth already exposed to the poisonous air, being wrenched slowly to death by the merciless decay of oxygen.
The lonely little clock on the bedside table tells me in red numbers it is my time to rise up, to dress and to eat.
At lunch I was pleasantly surprised to see that Le Bistro, the long narrow café just off the main lobby, was nearly empty by two in the afternoon, too late in the day for lunch when most revelers were already enjoying the cold swimming pool off the back. I could see them down below this second story perch where a glass dome was opened halfway around the pool and what appeared to be some of the Ivy League group now running and jumping into the water. There were children whose parents had hustled them to the side of it and were entreating them to come out as a group of young women entered the small round complex in swimsuits that barely covered their bodies and were being thrown loosely into the pool by the young men.
I sat and smoked a cigarette as I pushed my plate away and after charging the bill back to my room I ascended the staircase just outside Le Bistro to enter into the upper lobby overlooking the main one below. In the heyday of the hotel this was surely where the ladies could sit writing letters while their men sat out on the long front porch smoking the afternoon away in wicker rocking chairs talking of sports and politics. The upper lobby was crowded and I considered leaving until I noticed a remaining comfortable looking chair tucked into a corner perpendicular to another where a man appeared to be sleeping with his head resting upon the back edge.
I quickly made my way across the room winding between the two openings that overlooked the guests still checking in below and taking the seat, I retrieved a pack of cigarettes from my pocket and began to light one before quietly asking the sleeping man, “Do you mind if I smoke?”
He suddenly lifted his head. His complexion was pale, almost green, his golden hair beautifully parted at the side and slicked back with a holding gel. He had a pencil mustache just brimming at the top of his upper lip, shaved down neatly and trimmed cleanly at the edges. He was wearing an elegantly cut pinstripe suit and despite his nearly prostate position slunk down on the chair he still looked cleanly pressed and stiff around his white cuffs and collar. I loosened my own tie in the dark heat of the afternoon and unfastened the top button of my shirt, the stuffy warmth of the smoke-filled room drawing a musty swell into the upper lobby.
He shook his head and replied politely, “Not if I can have one of yours as well. You see, I left mine in my room and should I leave I might not ever get my seat back upon my return.”
“I can hold your chair for you if you wish, but I certainly don’t mind sharing,” and I leaned forward to offer him the pack and my matches.
It was only then, while my face was now closer to his and my eyes caught more of the light, that I discovered behind the mustache, beneath the smoke and falling shadows of the upper lobby that I knew this face to which I spoke. It was Perkins, Robert Perkins to be exact, a man I knew briefly in college before he left unexpectedly during his last year at Wabash. He was posthumously called ‘The Great Lost Hope’ brought in on a baseball scholarship to pitch for the varsity team three full years before he seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth in the spring of his final semester.
The last I knew, he was engaged to a girl that was attending Saint Mary of the Woods and I once gave him a car ride to the bus station in Crawfordville because he did not have a car of his own. He was the most dashing man I had ever met. Thin but tall and strong, filling out a slender double-breasted suit like a mannequin might, and his fingers, long and articulated wrapped tightly around a bouquet of flowers within my car that he was intending to carry on his lap the entire way to meet his fiancé in Madison.
Now, even in the dim light, Perkins looked a slightly duller shade than I remembered, like a man who was finally resigned to knowing that somewhere along the line he had lost his own way.
He glanced at the fold on the matchbook seeing the hotel logo emblazoned on the front and he said, “They never re-stock these things you see, once you stay more than a week, they just stop putting new ones in your room altogether.”
He smiled as his teeth shined white and clean across the haze. He was still gorgeous to look at, his eyes blue and reticent, his brows arched and evenly trimmed. I had worn my best suit this first afternoon hoping to make a good impression on some other lonely soul, I even took the time to iron my shirt all the way down to my cuffs and yet I felt disheveled just sitting next to him, as though I could feel the very whiskers on my own face growing as I admired the pristine creaminess of his skin.
He was near my same age, but there was an experiential essence about him as though he had lived a thousand times over in his two short decades upon this earth. It was not something so obvious as a hoarse throat or worry lines stretched taught across a forehead but it was in the way he seemed so natural to the aged surroundings of the hotel itself as if he belonged there, something akin to a relic of the past, not worn or faded but where the beauty of it was so unrestrained that one could only conclude it must be something from another time, for the craftsmanship was of a kind no one takes the time to create these days.
He was in no uncertain terms something that was unspoken in modern times for no one even bothered to put a label on it anymore. He was a dandy; a beautifully coiffed specimen of a decaying era.
And yet, despite his appearances, his mind seemed listless, perhaps somewhat woozy from his sleep as he slowly lit the tip of his cigarette and mumbled, “Are you with that large group that began arriving this morning?”
“The Ivy Leaguers you mean?”
He nodded as he blew out the match throwing its charred remnants into a small silver bowl perched atop a stand between us and I quickly insisted, “In no way do I have anything whatsoever to do with that bunch.”
He did not smile or react in any particular fashion, he simply asked, “Where do you come from then?”
“My home is in Indianapolis now, but you and I, we attended school together at Wabash College.”
“Did we?” he asked, but he showed no recognition or enthusiasm, not that I would have expected any, but he demonstrated such a genuine lack of interest as though any remnants of those days had eroded in his mind as something altogether meaningless and insignificant. Politely he followed with, “And what of your parents? Are you here with them now?” as though expecting he should have known something more of them than he did and as if he had assumed I was somehow still frozen in that fledgling state since I had been the first one to mention it.
Embarrassed at the suggestion I replied, “Certainly not. I have been on my own since graduation; this trip was a chance to clear my head before deciding certain things.”
“Deciding certain things or uncertain things?” he pondered tapping his fingers across his cheekbone before he nodded again as though he empathized but then oddly he sneered as he peered over the edge of the balcony to see a group of young women running across the mosaic tiled floor barely dressed and wringing wet puddles off their swimsuits before they screamed and ran up the staircase on the other side of the lobby as they were now being chased down the hallway by equally wet and boisterous boys.
He sighed and slunk back into his leather chair exhaling smoke to create a long trail leading up to a dimly lit glass chandelier above us as he mumbled, “Despite not even half a decade older than these young hooligans we’re a couple of old relics now too I suppose,” he grimaced, “Invisible until needed,” and shrugging he continued, “But perhaps these strange coincidences are the sort of omen I have been waiting for and now is finally my turn to seek sweet relief from this life of mine which seems to be stuck squarely in neutral.”
I must have held a confused look upon my face when he said it for Perkins glanced directly into my opaque stare and he said, “How long have you been here? Have you seen her too?”
In my confusion I hesitated, but before I could ask him who he was referring to Perkins quickly took a hit from his cigarette and exhaling he declared, “Of course you haven’t. You’ve only just arrived, and you don’t even know how. But you would know her in an instant if you had seen her. She’s slight and frail looking, nothing like these farm girls running loose about the place. She has hardly a curve upon her body, you might mistake it for even a boy’s, but her hair, it’s cut in one of those Dutch bobs I think she called it, chunky fingers of bangs draped along her forehead and the sides of her face, dark from the crown to her chin, with a gentle sort of wave to it, betraying your expectation that it might also run straight when wet. Her skin is pale and smooth with hollow contours along her cheeks.”
He stared at me, or rather through me, as though envisioning the woman about which he spoke, as if he was remembering a time when she sat in this very seat, and he blushed to add, “You might even know her by the scent. Everything she wears smells of lavender. Her lips are plump as a ripe strawberry, sliced and spread apart with the taste of champagne and cinnamon in between.”
He suddenly leaned forward and cupped his mouth as though letting me in on a rather indiscreet secret, “She’s something from another time, the reckless ripples of a lost generation, this eternal flapper, undulating feverishly beneath my own skin.”
He leaned back into his chair and rubbing his eyes with the ball of his palms he added, “She left when I fulfilled my part of the bargain you see, but she tricked me in the end and abandoned me here all alone in this miserable tomb of half-living. Now I creep along these endless hallways like some invisible gas, my ears pricked for the quiet whisper of the flapper giving me some hint of what more I could possibly do. I seek her solution in each angry face and pour myself into every precarious situation, perhaps to stand headlong before a stampede of boys chasing girls up a staircase hoping the next moment might send me tumbling to the bottom, but it all amounts to nothing in the end, as though some protective force surrounds me, keeping me cemented in this constant state of waiting and wondering when the end will pull me through it.”
I had no understanding of what he was saying and I began to consider that he was drunk but his glassy eyes were clear and he gave no scent of alcohol, only the acrid smell of the cigarette smoke encircling us. He persisted unfazed by my own confusion, seeming not to care whether I understood or not, speaking more to himself than me when he continued, “It must take me by surprise you see; that is what she said, for ‘the souls of the lost remain where they die but only when it comes from a completely unexpected turn of events’. And so I wait for it my old friend. No amount of wishing can affect the outcome, only that the moment is unknown, and when passing through that veil of confusion the soul is locked firmly into place, trapped within that world that stirs restlessly between the living and the dead.”
He took a long drag off his cigarette and eyed me the entire time before adding, “That is the theory anyway; the one she spent her tiny lifetime perfecting. That is where she exists now, where she remains until that moment of intersection is upon me too.”
We sat quietly for a moment, neither of us sure what else there was to say that didn’t have to do with the weather until the silence became palpable amid the dull banter of the parties in the upper lobby and I tried to clarify, “You are speaking of the girl, the one you dated in college? I drove you to the bus stop to see her, you know?”
He laughed and exclaimed in a bewildered heap, “Judith Burgoine?! Oh dear me, not her, old friend.”
We sat staring at each other quietly for a while as we smoked. He seemed to be surmising my intentions, as though evaluating my potential although I had no understanding what for and equally I was surveying his behavior for any sign that I should be concerned for his very sanity, but he was gentle, docile and pleasant, innocuous as I remembered him on that drive to the bus station back in the day and when he finished his cigarette I offered him another and another and waited patiently for him to tell me his story.
He was reticent at first explaining to me only that he had arrived at this old hotel the previous year on Easter weekend in 1989, traveling with the Burgoines, the family of Judith, his soon to be fiancé. “Judy was a princess, in only the metaphorical but most negative sense,” he clarified. “You might recall her father was in charge of some health management organization and they lived lavishly in a palatial townhome on the banks of White River in Indianapolis and the purpose of our arrival in French Lick was for me to propose to Judy during breakfast of all forsaken places and times in the middle of the Hoosier Ballroom on Easter morning. It was just like Mr. Burgoine, to upstage even God. It had all been planned, down to the very ring that had been provided for me to give to her in a small gold box.”
Upon arrival that Easter weekend when the Burgoine’s car pulled beside the curb at the foot of the red-carpeted staircase that led up to the entrance of the hotel a man in a long grey coat stepped forward to the rear of the car waiting for Mr. Burgoine to pop the hood. Mrs. Burgoine leaned forward to open the glove compartment and pressed the little yellow button inside of it as Judy woke startled to the sound of the latch releasing the hood from its lock.
“Are we here all ready, Daddy?” she asked, as though the two and a half hour drive through the winding hills that led to this forested valley, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, had passed like a leaf turning on the wind.
Mr. Burgoine looked up into his rear-view mirror, the surreptitious lines of his wrinkled skin framed domineering eyes as he asked in a haughty voice, “Robert, have you had the chance to stay at French Lick before?”
He knew Perkins had not; it had been discussed several times already at their regular Sunday dinners when the Dandy would sit at the opposite end of the silver and crystal graveyard of the Burgoine dining table.
But come that Saturday evening of Easter weekend Miss Judy Burgoine and Perkins sat in the tiny Catholic church on the hillside just on the edge of the brick and mortar town between there and the electrical building that supplied the hotel with its power. A little violet arrangement in a white basket was hanging at the end of each pew as Perkins looked down upon the one in front of him sensing the Burgoine’s priggish little noses surveying the small crowd packed into the seats around them and he noticed Mrs. Burgoine was focused intently on a small thread that had lodged itself on the cuff of Perkins’ dress shirt as it poked the frayed end out through the hem of his jacket sleeve. The Dandy quickly removed the thread and let it fall to the floor to the satisfaction of Mrs. Burgoine who sniffed and looked sideways at her daughter who was too busy analyzing the color of her nails against the blue lace of her Easter dress. The round brim of Mrs. Burgoine’s white hat held high behind her head like some sort of halo as seen in the stained glass windows behind the narrow altar directly in front of them.
The Dandy considered it might not be long before the two of them could be standing in a place just like this pledging their troth until death do them part and the thought if it rolled snakes over in his stomach.
At one point Mr. Burgoine turned in his seat, twisting his rotund body to survey the congregation gathered for the Easter Vigil, beaming to get their Sunday obligation out of the way a day early, as he nodded to a familiar face or two before looking down at Perkins commanding through his stare for the Dandy to sit up straight and move a little closer to Judy to make a good show of it.
Perkins reached down on command and lifted her hand into his own. The move startled her, it was a tender affection she was unaccustomed to from him, but he was performing exactly as prescribed and she turned to look at her father who was still staring at the Dandy to see that Perkins was gazing back into his eyes and the side of Judy’s lip turned up as she blinked slowly and her grin grew wider while she slid more closely into his side.
Judy was soft and warm, smelling of lilac and peach blossoms, the lips on her oval face parted to reveal a perfectly straight set of teeth that an orthodontist could only dream to achieve. Her pointed little nose, obstinate and spoiled like her mother’s, as if the taste of diamonds was still fresh upon her lips as she licked them egregiously like a pig being led to his swill, and the thought of her face so close to the Dandy’s turned his stomach even a little more than the idea of having to propose marriage to her the following day.
Judy was beautiful in a purely artificial sense, like a young woman from a magazine advertisement, glossy and opaque, smooth as butter, but so altogether perfect as to become bland by its conformity. There was simply nothing of interest to the Dandy, everything was in its right place and exactly where it was expected to be so that there was often no need for Perkins to even take notice of it.
After church, a late tea was a light affair, followed by brief rest in the lobby and in the wicker rocking chairs beneath the ferns of the white porch that covered the façade of the hotel Mr. Burgoine sat reading the financial section of the papers while Mrs. Burgoine wrote a letter on hotel stationary reciting every word to her husband who was so completely engrossed in his own exercise that he was not even aware she was speaking to him.
Judy suddenly asked Perkins to take her on a stroll around the lotus garden behind the back of the hotel.
As they walked she tugged on his arm saying, “Don’t worry Robert, once we are married,” she stopped to look him in the eyes as if to confirm that he was still prepared to make the proposal in the pre-planned manner at breakfast the following morning when he was to bend at the knee just before eggs were served and make his pitch to Judy exactly as he was instructed. Judy continued, “Once we are married, there won’t be more than a weekly visit at the worst.”
“Weekly visit?!” Perkins protested.
She scowled, “I know you don’t like them Robert, it’s obvious upon your face at every turn, but where would we be without them?”
The Dandy cleared his throat as he noticed an older couple making their way past the couple and Judy nodded with her painted smile but the moment the elder couple passed she frowned and cut though his protestation with daggers for eyes as she insisted, “Only Sundays, that is my promise to you Robert…only Sundays after church.”
But he knew it would be more, much more than that, surely. He would be expected to attend every possible opportunity the Burgoine’s could have to show off their Saint Mary of the Woods educated daughter and her handpicked catch of a husband.
Appetites had been spared for Saturday night’s late and meatless dinner in the hotel’s newest restaurant, Chez James, as the dreaded dawn of his Easter proposal was creeping nearer by the hour and it was during one of those mundane conversation points where the Burgoines were twiddling over some insignificant point of contention that Perkins suddenly felt his heart sink into a moment of self-conscious fury. Feeling red-faced and embarrassed by his dinner companions he happened to let his gaze drift off in the direction of a mirrored wall where sitting beneath a single flickering candle flame was the pallid white face of something akin to a flapper, like one he had seen from old movie postcards, her chin-length bob shining below the indirect lights of the chandelier in the center of the room weakly casting it’s faint glow to the far fringes, but she sparkled like the stars in the night sky, her sequin dress twinkling beneath every breath, the thin straps holding it aloft at the shoulder to plunge at the neckline contoured around her flat chest as she sat alone.
The conversation at Perkins’ table had spiraled into inane lethargy. Here was the Dandy as close to a modern day arranged proposal as one could be, locked onto tracks that seemed irreversible with no other future laid out before him and Perkins seeing no way to stop the train from rolling on to its inevitable destination. He did not dislike Judith Burgoine; he did not often think of her in any fashion. She had her physical charms but they were quickly extinguished whenever she opened her mouth to reveal the shallow emptiness of her considerations that had little more to do with anything outside of clothing, makeup or other sort of superficial leaning.
But more essential than this was that to Perkins, Judith Burgoine represented everything about his life that seemed unnatural and out of place. He felt he was merely being pulled along by some invisible string, the college student who did not care to study, the baseball player who felt apathy for the sport, the would-be fiancé who wanted to turn and run as far away from this inevitable fate of days filled with business opportunities that appealed to him even less than a splinter would in his eye, social obligations with friends whose names he could not even remember and nights spent laying down in bed for the rest of his life with a woman who meant nothing more to him romantically than a sister might.
And he was well aware that he was not exactly the perfect match either, not ambitious, unfocused, not well-studied, barely even well-spoken ordinarily, but athletic and well-dressed, coiffed, a trophy husband in the sense that he gave off the appearance of something more than he was, leaving an air of mystery about his true derivations; he was desirous albeit illusionary, but he was all that Judy had hoped for, like some birthday present to unwrap that she could tantrum the scheming Burgoines into wrangling for her.
But when he looked back across the room he saw a uniquely satisfying face; the diamond-lit eyes of the Flapper glistening in the flicker of a flame, icy like glass, her cold pallor unashamed of her obvious stare back at him across the room where the Dandy found a glimmer of hope in them, however fleeting, and he was moved by heart alone to let his yearning wander and rise from the table to drift spiritually toward her beacon, like a lighthouse in the stormy sea, remindful of the comforts of dry land yet warning of the dangers that lurk there, a call from home that pulls the boat treacherously yet irrevocably unto it.
In that face of the Flapper, the Dandy saw someone who was both new and familiar to him. A face he had known but had never actually seen. He could not stop thinking about the suggestion in her smile that she left at her table before she looked away to sign and hand her bill back to the waiter as she quietly drifted from the dining room.
After dinner as Perkins and the Burgoines walked back to the family suite he lagged doggedly behind watching every strange face along the way that he could find to search for her eyes again and even after returning to the Governor’s suite, holding his breath and kissing Judy goodnight at her bedroom door before returning to his own within the shared space, he waited just inside his door with his hand still resting on the knob to listen until all was quiet outside his bedroom.
After a half hour standing in the frozen darkness Judy was by now soaking in her tub or more likely asleep upon the end of her bed and he knew that once the Burgoines retired to their room, they never left.
So he took his chance, he embraced the moment as he bolted through an open door to escape the suite and tiptoe down the hall before quickening his pace to a full scurry the further away he moved and eventually fell into a complete run until he reached the angle in the hallway where he could not possibly be seen from the room at the end of it. When he burst upon the elevator to wait for his turn to step inside he felt the rush of nerves like a flock of birds fluttering up his spine until he heard the bell ring when he stepped into the empty box to press the 2 button and command it to deliver him to the upper lobby on the second floor.
Spilling out into it, he leaned over its balcony edge and spotted the Flapper in the main lobby just below, exactly where he imagined she would be waiting and scrambling down the stairs the Dandy raced across the floor toward her where she was bent over an old time radio in the corner by the grand piano just turning the dial as it brushed through static until she found a station that was playing a classical piece of music and she stood up turning to him as though she expected Perkins to be there all the time and said, “Finzi’s clarinet concerto, I swear it’s the only one they ever seem to play, I truly think it’s the only song I have ever known in this place, but it still sounds so magnificent on this old thing, don’t you think?”
The Dandy nodded, still breathless in her presence as she added, “It’s something about the static, you see? Finding the signal through the static makes it all seem better.”
He was looking at her lips when she spoke, they seemed to hardly move, just enough to let the right words slip out from between them, so discreet and nonchalant he was almost unable to understand them and had to turn his head slightly to focus on their shapes to string the sight and sound together.
The Dandy nodded again, and she smiled like she had in the dining room, that suggestive, slightly flirtatious glance that floated hopefulness his way, like a tiny note placed upon a leaf and pushed gently across the water, reserved enough as though there was no guarantee it was his shore the message was intended to reach and left merely to the fate of the ripples that emanated from her.
“I’m not familiar with it,” Perkins replied sheepishly, but she frowned as though disappointed by his response as she demanded, “Of course you are.”
The Dandy stood by his words but she smiled again and said less directly, “That family you are with, and the young lady, is that your girl?”
“Yes,” he replied, ashamed to admit it, but quickly added, “Not so much my girl though, more as if I am her man. But I’m not for her, I don’t think anyway.”
But she did not give him time to explain, as if it was unnecessary as she continued, “Which is why you are here with me.”
“I came looking for you.”
“Of course you did,” she said as she took his arm and wrapped her hand around it to begin leading him toward the stairs to the upper lobby, “And now you are going to escort me up to the place where old ladies write letters and you will light my cigarette to tell me all about how you are being horse-collared into a marriage proposal you don’t even want to make.”
He stopped and looked into her rich brown eyes, their placidity peering into his own as he started to ask her a question but then she reached up and placed her finger down his lips saying, “Don’t speak Robbie, I can already tell you everything you want to say.”
He was startled and started to ask, but she continued undeterred, “Mr. Burgoine has a voice that can carry even down the long halls of this old hotel I suppose, so it was really nothing at all to hear across such a narrow dining room.”
When they reached the top of the stairs she turned him toward her to look up into his face and said, “But rather than wasting time telling me how you got into it, perhaps we can spend our time figuring out how you are going to get out of it.”
“What are your ideas?” he begged without hesitation.
“It is far too easy of course,” she giggled, then her face turned serious as she looked directly in his eyes again, “You simply disappear.”
“Disappear, how?” the Dandy asked.
“Perhaps I can murder you,” she stared at his face without uttering a further word to gauge his reaction at the suggestion before she broke into a laugh and added, “But what is the fun in that for you?”
In the upper lobby as they walked toward a set of blue upholstered chairs angled toward each other she tapped her fingers along her chin as she twisted her mouth back and forth, squinting her eyes in thought as she pondered, “Perhaps you can murder them. Make it look like an accident. But then what is the fun in that for me?”
He led her to the seat where he held her hand until she looked comfortable, then sitting beside her but leaning forward on the edge of his cushion to listen, he heard her say at last in a serious tone, “No it is all much easier than that. Simply leave a note under the door telling her you are breaking it off and you are leaving. Then just go.”
“Go where?” the Dandy asked.
“Tell them in the letter that you cannot go through with it and you have returned home to join the Navy. They will leave in hot pursuit of you before you do this thing if for no other reason than to give you a good thrashing on your way.” She seemed to laugh at the thought of it and added, “Yes, that is the best course of action, write a letter and place it under the door. Let’s do it tonight, let’s do it now, it will be fun!”
She insisted the Dandy retrieve a pen and paper with hotel letterhead and sitting in the chair she leaned forward on her elbows upon the small round table between them as she dictated the words for Perkins to write.
She began, “Dear…” but then stopped to wait for him to write the girl’s name without her own assistance.
He looked up at her as he said, “Judy,” nearly ashamed to speak the name to the Flapper.
“Dear Judith,” she spoke in a formal sounding tone as she gazed into the smoky atmosphere of the upper lobby, “I simply cannot continue with this charade. It would be unfair to pretend any further that I care for you and I suspect you feel much the same about it as I do. Therefore I have taken the only steps possible in this situation and have fled. My plan is to enlist, to find some shore as far away as possible to give us both time to recover from this quick and sudden parting. I know you will find happiness in whatever path you choose but you must surely see this is the best outcome for all concerned in the long run. Please give my regards and apologies to your parents,” and then she paused to close with, “Dearest, Robbie.”
Perkins looked up at her when she finished and stared coldly into her eyes as he asked, “That is the second time you have used my name in that way. Why did you have me sign the letter as Robbie?”
“It seemed appropriate,” she said with hesitancy trembling in her voice as though she suddenly realized her mistake.
“But no one has ever called me that, certainly not Judy, not that I recall anyway, and I never even told you my name.”
She was quick to dismiss his accusations, “I already made it clear I was eavesdropping across the room.”
“But no one said it, and you did not even know her name?”
“I was not interested in her name,” the Flapper muttered languidly as she folded the letter and ran her thumb along the crease.
There was again, just like her face, a familiarity with which she said his name, like it had rolled off her tongue as naturally as a simple ‘Hello’ might do. He was convinced there was more to her speaking of it than she was letting on but before he could question her further she stood and took him by the hand and pulled him along, “Let’s take it up now. I assume you are all staying in the Presidential Suite.”
He corrected her, “No, the Governor’s…”
“Ohhh,” she drew out the words as if aghast that they should stay in merely the second finest accommodations in the hotel. The Flapper and the Dandy walked onto the elevator at the back of the upper lobby, the click-clack of her black heels tapping along the metal edging that separated the two spaces and pressing the button they waited inside the car shoulder to shoulder neither looking upon each other as the motion carried them higher.
Suddenly, upon passing the fourth floor the Dandy brazenly asked, “What is your name, and why are you here?”
She batted her eyes and said, “Evaline Davies,” but paused and explained, “You would know me as Eve,” then she stared directly into his inquisitive gaze and added, “I have always been here darling, just biding my time, just waiting for you.”
He laughed uneasily, “But how…how would you know I would be here?”
She turned her head away from him as the bell sounded and the door opened to reveal the fifth floor where stepping off she walked forward alone and replied plainly, “Because you told me as much.”
After slipping the letter under the door of the Governor’s Suite the Flapper and the Dandy scurried back up the long hallway to move beyond the bend where halfway down sat a circular atrium with two chairs and a table that quietly witnessed the pair pass and then race beyond the short hall that led to the elevator. Reaching a crossroads at the end they turned right as the floor beneath their feet began to creak and moan with every step. They raced to the far end of this straight corridor where the floral paper with white and blue flowers was peeling off in places at the seams all along the walls. There were milk stains on the deep blue carpeting from years of room service trays that had been left in the hallway too long where someone clumsy or simply looking for cheap amusement used a toe to tip the half full glass upon the rug. Reaching the end of the milk-stained hall they approached another short ‘T’ and taking a left past three more doors Eve lifted her small sequin purse in her hand to retrieve a brass key for Room 531 at the end on the right. She hurriedly unlocked the tall white door and pushed it aside.
When Perkins entered his attention was immediately drawn to the lofty windows on the far wall of the oddly shaped five-sided room. There were luxurious looking gold curtains drawn back with white sheers glowing from the spotlights shining up on the limestone façade of the hotel from the front lawn. The Flapper flipped on a switch and taking his hand she pulled him in fully, clear of the heavy door as she threw it closed behind her. After turning the lock while still holding his right hand in hers she used her other hand to rub his arm in comforting grace like a mother gently rubs a baby’s forehead to soothe it and she looked into his eyes saying, “Honestly Robbie, I won’t bite.”
He smiled pensively but then took a long, slow look around the room as she stepped calmly across the floor to place her bag upon a writing desk before lighting a cigarette and turning to watch him analyze his new surroundings.
“You like this room too, I can tell.”
“Yes,” he replied quietly, almost instinctively, without having fully graded it yet in his own mind.
“I knew you would like it. When I first saw it I was certain it was the one we always imagined; the one so clearly drawn in my memories. Sure, it’s rough around the edges, a tear in the carpet here and there, the wallpaper a little dirty in places, stains and whatnot scattered about, but in the daytime, when the sun fills the room, it energizes me like no other could. It’s such a feeling of peace and calm in here, our own little island of sorts, tucked away from the world.”
Perkins nodded as his eyes met the queen-sized bed on the hallway side of the room, like some car parked at a drive-in movie theater, the long windows like the screen, with the angled exterior of the corner room encapsulating two chairs evenly positioned with a table in between.
By the way she was standing at the writing desk and looking at the chairs as he was analyzing them he expected her to take one and offer up the other but instead after taking a swig from a small round glass next to an open champagne bottle on the desk she snuffed out her cigarette and moved cautiously toward the bed.
She sat on the edge of the mattress and taking his hand she pulled him down next to her and turning to look him in the eyes she pressed herself against him and whispered, “You don’t need to act so shocked; I’m not as fast as you think I am.”
Perkins shook his head in denial but she knew exactly what he was thinking as though she had intentionally placed the thoughts there herself just so she could prove him wrong.
“We’ve been alone together you and I, many times before, so you needn’t pretend this is our first time just because you can’t remember all the others. In fact, in our own secret way, we are already married. ‘The Flapper and the Dandy’, that’s what you said we are. I’m not some loose little girl who leads a fresh, well-dressed young man into her boudoir. Is that what you think of me? It’s not like that at all.”
She rose from the bed and walked over to the writing desk again by the bathroom door and removing her earrings she placed them on the desk where she turned to him and said, “Honestly, you must recognize part of me by now, certainly? Is there nothing about me that you find even the slightest familiar?”
He stared at her face. There was in its expression, in her eyes something nearly indescribable; a sense of longing, like when one sees the sun as it sets its last orange glow upon a blank wall and one is compelled to mourn that the day has nearly been spent and knowing they can never get it back.
Perkins could not capture the exact memory but he knew it was there just beyond his reach if only he could break through some seemingly impenetrable barrier keeping it hidden from him. He rose from the bed and moved across the room to where she was standing.
“I’m practically hurt by now to think I was so forgettable,” she laughed, “I must not have made the impression upon you I thought I had, but perhaps it is merely our age now, it’s been what, eleven years after all? You would never know my face now really, would you? I am certain I have changed a thousand times over. I was hardly more than a child. Of course you can’t know, you don’t remember.”
Perkins shook his head with resignation and the guilt swelled in his belly like an oversized pillow because from merely the silky sweetness of her voice and the warm invitation of her eyes he felt obliged to remember her better and was tormented that he could not.
“You will recall,” she insisted confidently, “It will come to you when you least expect it, but maybe it is best in bits and pieces. After all, perhaps it should not happen so quickly, perhaps we should milk this thing for all it is worth, take it in tiny sips so as not to drown you in all that has been lost.”
Perkins had no way to acknowledge or deny her suggestion because he did not know what he had lost or what the end result was of which she hinted he would find. He only knew his emotions of the moment; she was a mystery wrapped up in something akin to a sculpture of antiquated beauty, like finding a picture of your grandmother when she was young and discovering she had more in life to offer than just wrinkled kisses and warm cookies, that she had attraction and allure, drive and determination, once filled with the same youthful passion and fervor as Perkins now felt swelling in his own heart.
He felt as if he should know her, not just wanted to know her, but when he tried to remember, it felt like a fog was rolling into the harbor of his mind. He felt if he could just hold her in his arms, to touch her skin with his fingers, it might just be the final push he needed to get over the precipice and land in the valley of reminiscence because he knew he should remember her.
She stepped him backwards slowly by moving closer to him until they stood silent in the quiet dark of her room, face to face now beside the bed. They kissed politely and tentatively, their lips testing the limits of their patience, before she slipped her hand up his chest and began unbuttoning his shirt as it slid off his shoulders and carelessly dropped to the floor. She slowly crouched down in her snug, sequin dress taking care to balance herself as she went along and reaching up she pulled down his pants as he stepped out of his shoes and socks. He was not ashamed for her to see him and she reached up to touch him with trembling fingers and as she did a strange sort of feeling came over him, like the one that had happened when he first looked into her eyes, the familiarity of her touch like her expression, and as she stood again before him he slipped the dress off her shoulders effortlessly and the pair crawled into the bed together preparing to succumb to the moment.
Perkins was bewildered by it, as though everything was happening in a film that he was merely watching, but the Flapper seemed to be hungering for him as much as he was her and soon enough her enthusiasm carried them into realms they had never been. It was the fulfillment of a journey, one that had begun but was interrupted by time and circumstance, one of them holding all the cards, knowing what value was hidden beneath, the other wondering if it was all a bluff, but for now the Flapper and the Dandy consummated what had been festering inside of them, both the known and the unknown, the familiar and unfamiliar, in the quiet dark of that secret room.
Late that night the couple sat side by side in the naked cold of the room, holding hands as though it had all been done before exactly as prescribed and she turned her head to kiss him asking, “Now do you remember me?”
He looked at her eyes reflecting the faint glow of the lights on the front lawn quietly drifting through the white sheers. She said again, “Now do you remember me Robbie? It is me, your Eve.”
Perkins nodded and said, “I remember how you felt; your touch, your lips, how your skin felt next to mine.”
He was certain he knew her flesh already, not in a salacious way but rather a sweet, innocent knowledge; the lavender scent of it, the cinnamon taste, the supple, velvety texture. He was certain it was a distinct sensation he had known before like the warm comfort of a favorite blanket where one could close their eyes and still know every detail of the fibers by all the other senses.
She rested her head upon his shoulder and explained, “Do you remember? We used to race our bicycles to Hinshaw’s farm where we would hide them in the ditch on the western edge of the cornfields. You followed me into that field as we ran up the rows toward the old sycamore tree that stood out in the middle of it. I used to hop rows as you chased after me until you finally caught up to me where I could grab your hand and pull you along.”
Perkins looked over at the blue stream of light pouring through the white sheers as a pastiche of memories were coming slowly into focus through vivid colors of warm, azure skies and green stalks whisking them along, the high corn swaying in the summer breeze. The girl was leading him through the maze to the center of it where the large tree made a small circle in the middle like a tiny private island in the sea of corn.
The boy and girl sat beneath the tree and looked at the high wall of the crops surrounding them within their own secret cove as the girl held his hand and when finally their eyes met in the middle, their lips drifted closer and closer until they touched. It was their first kiss, the first of many to come. She tasted of cherry Coke and licorice sticks from the Five & Dime in town and reaching into his pocket he retrieved a small soda can tab that he had pulled off the top of her drink and he slipped it onto her ring finger saying, “Now we are as good as married.”
The girl smiled and said, “Of course we are.”
It was just the kind of thing a boy would have done after his first kiss, the achievement of the thing sending showers of endorphins racing down his body, the sort of emotion that makes boys carve a girl’s initials into the soft wood of trees like the giant sycamore beneath which they sat, or get into fights when one calls her character into question, but she was beyond reproach, a modicum of modesty and innocence sacrificed in this tender moment, one she had chosen him for, and one for which he had chosen her. There was no thought of anything beyond this; a kiss was enough for them now, the gentle, patient caress of their lips, the feel of the skin on their palms and arms as they held each sweetly beneath the shade of the tree.
Perkins blinked rapidly in the blue light of Room 531 to withdraw a tear as the Flapper said, “You do remember me now,” as she took his chin in her hand and pulled his lips back to hers.
Leaning on his shoulder she explained, “The day you left town I stood on your sidewalk as your aunt was rushing you into the car, taking you away from me. I was crying then, and I stepped beside your window as you looked out at me, the blank expression on your face told me that in your mind I was nothing more than some silly fool you didn’t even recognize now just standing and watching you leave. It was a mistake that they took you away, such a dreadful mistake, if only they had given you more time so you could remember, so you could see the things you knew from before.”
Perkins held her chin in the tips of his fingers and saw those tears of loss now resurfacing in her own eyes, and in his mind he could see that girl, the one he sat with beneath the sycamore tree standing on a broken sidewalk, her face covered with her dirty hands hiding his departure from her eyes when the car began to move away until she went chasing after it as it moved along quickly up the street until finally her legs gave out, the boy no longer within the reach of her screams, and she stood in the middle of the road where he saw her lay down and bury her face in her arms.
The Flapper added, “There were the rumors then, words spoken, even about us, in those dark, quiet corners. They must have thought it was in your best interest, but it was a mistake, and in a flash, I thought I had lost you forever.”
Perkins pulled her close to his chest as she cried; the cold tears running down his stomach. He remembered the face of the girl again and he could see her anger as she watched the woman putting him into the car, the way the girl glared at her and pleaded for him to be left alone.
“But how did you know you would find me again and here of all places, after so many years?”
She looked up in the dark at his face reflecting the blue light and explained, “We used to sit, you and I, beneath the sycamore tree on so many summer days and you would bring your little book, the one I bought for you at the Five & Dime in town, the book about the hotels with the old pictures of the flappers and the dandies, and you would say to me, ‘That will be us some day. One day we will be famous and we will go to this old hotel and we will stay there together, hide there from everyone and everything, and we will never leave.’”
Perkins did not remember the book or ever even saying it, but he knew who she was now and he trusted in everything she had to say.
Squeezing him she sighed, “And now here we are, where everything is back in its rightful place.”
She rolled over away from him and she slid open the drawer of her bedside table and reaching in she retrieved a small shiny object and holding it before his eyes so he could see the soda can tab in the dark she slipped it onto her finger and said, “And you and I, we are still living out our promise.”
Another guest from another time by the name of Irene Edwards, was a woman trapped inside a miserable state of existence, within a story that was all too common in her day. On one hand, as the daughter of a New York shipping magnate during the Gilded Age, she lived in a life full of opulent houses and extravagant parties but when she was still quite young and vulnerable had been married off overseas rather unhappily to a man who despite the rewards of wedding an American heiress was forced to sell his ailing, cash-strapped estate nestled in the English countryside. He packed up and dragged his young bride back across the Atlantic, traveling up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers to settle in the rugged, rolling hills of southern Indiana hoping to rebuild his family legacy through the procurement of cheap land with the sole intent of making his way in limestone where demand from skyscrapers rising up in the big cities was growing stronger by the day. In the process of snatching up properties and tapping their potential, oil was discovered on several of his acquisitions and he soon found new fortune in abundance from an unexpected source.
Shortly after renovations, Irene had been moved into a suite on the top floor of a new wing at the French Lick Springs Hotel where she would while away her lonely days exploring the resort and grounds, learning about the history of the place and she became so enamored with both the architectural and natural beauty of the hotel and property that to her it became the place where she hoped to remain forever; it became her new and treasured home. To her delight her husband was often gone for long periods of time on business transactions which gave her the space and freedom to explore her cherished world, a place considered by most from the east as some hapless backwater swamp, but to Irene the springs valley and its attractions were like discovering a diamond in the rough and she was entirely entranced by it all.
As time wore on she was able to fill her days with explorations of the property and her nights with a growing interest in Spiritualism often holding séances within her suite on the sixth floor where she was convinced she had contacted spirits inside the hotel itself who were revealing secrets to her about life after death. Many of the social elite would come to her for advice on reaching departed loved ones or even those who were simply curious about the idea of it and she was always happy to oblige.
She liked to put on quite a spectacular show of it, appearing from another room as if out of nowhere, to have her guests seated around a circular table with a single candle lit in the center where they would join hands and she would step through her chants to enter into a trance state where she believed she could communicate with the dead.
But it was in the course of her séances that she met a man who like her was interested in such mysteries, who was also lonely and childless and like Irene had moved beyond the age where youth was no longer in their favor but unlike her, the man was unmarried and he immediately became enraptured with Irene, believing her to possess one of the most original minds he had ever known. In his eyes there was no greater beauty than she was and he soon became so devoted to her that he would do anything if she but merely asked.
The two quickly grew into inseparable lovers, hiding within his room in the old wing whenever she could sneak away from public view but of course they were heartbreakingly parted whenever her husband returned for brief spells and soon Irene discovered the companionship that had been missing all of her life was found only within the arms of her lover while they were together at the hotel. He begged her to run away with him, to leave her husband and begin life anew with him on the road but she was certain in that sort of existence, escaping from the harsh judgement of their world, they could never truly be free and happy by burying themselves in a life of shame and deception.
Instead, through her experiences, through the knowledge she had gained from her contact with the other side, Irene hatched a plan for them that was much more permanent and would allow them to remain together in the hotel where they could find the fullest fulfillment of life within each other.
In the soft morning light, the Dandy heard a cart rattling down the hall, echoing in the vast emptiness outside their door and opening his eyes a crack the sound of the squeaking wheels stopped before a gentle knock on the door. He looked over at Eve, lying on her stomach, her hair messy all over the side of her face but her naked back was gleaming in the morning sunlight that was pouring through the tall windows that faced northeast.
He slipped out of bed saying to the second knock, “One minute,” and stepping into his pants he threw the covers up over Eve before opening the door to let the man wheel the cart in.
He sloppily signed the bill back to the room and then scurried the man out before he could even pull the plates out of the hot box. Closing and locking the door the moment the man had gone through it, the Dandy took a deep breath of the rich brown aroma of the coffee as it drifted toward the bed when Eve suddenly made a low moan and he saw her head come out from under the blanket as she asked, “Can’t I just eat it here?”
“Yes of course Eve,” he replied, as Perkins leaned over the cart and retrieved a plate of eggs with bacon and a warm slice of toast where the butter had melted cleanly through leaving it soft and moist in the middle.
Sitting beside her in the bed he insisted she sit up properly as she tucked the sheets under her arms and he fed her breakfast from a silver spoon like a baby. She ate two or three bites and then scrunching her face up she told him to eat the rest as she slunk down and rolled over to sip from the cup of coffee he had placed on the table beside her and she slowly melted further back into the mattress sliding under the warm covers with her arms wrapped around his legs.
Perkins ate and then placing the clean plate on his bedside table he slid under to join her but before even an hour had passed they jumped when they heard the large boom of a door echoing down the hallway and voices prattling on about check-out times startling the couple from their quiet morning sleep.
He slipped his hand across her warm, bare stomach and felt it rise and fall as she breathed slowly when suddenly the Flapper opened her eyes as though in sudden realization of the time.
“It is Easter morning and they will have read the letter by now and are probably at the front desk demanding some answers!” she declared.
Eve jumped with near giddiness from the bed and throwing on a silver silk gown that was strewn across the back of a chair she hurriedly wrapped it around her and secured it with a black lace belt as she moved to the window to draw back the sheers and look down from her fifth floor perch in the corner room toward the entrance where the departing cars were lined up as porters were loading luggage into trunks.
“I don’t think I would recognize them from up here Robbie.”
She turned to look back at him in the bed as he watched her through the heavy slits of his eyelids and slipping over the side of it he walked to the window to stand beside her and then pulling up a wing-back chair he dropped into it as she sat upon his lap and together they watched out the window.
“What if they don’t leave?” the Dandy asked.
“They will of course,” she looked confidently out the window as she saw more and more guests filing out from under the awning that covered the front steps leading up to the porch and entrance.
Suddenly Perkins leaned forward and said, “Wait a minute,” as he gazed precariously from the tall window as though he was afraid they could see him. The Flapper and the Dandy craned their necks to see the Burgoines loading luggage themselves into the trunk of their car, the porter unable to keep up the pace with them.
Mr. Burgoine was red-faced and pointing at his wife as she slumped into the car, where Judith was standing by the rear covering her nose in a crumpled tissue and looking back up at the façade of the hotel and the main entrance before covering her eyes as she ducked into the back of the luxurious vehicle. The tail lights flashed and as soon as the trunk was closed it sped off without even a thought for a tip to the men who helped with the bags. One of them removed his hat and began wiping his forehead before he fanned his face and turned to begin walking back toward the awning.
“It’s glorious!” Eve raised her arms in the air in victory and celebrated, “They looked as mad as hell. I think it’s simply wonderful that our little letter caused so much commotion.”
“What makes you think they won’t come back?”
“Robbie, you know them better than I, could you even imagine they would want to show their faces here now with all their friends having arrived for the sole purpose of seeing the big event this morning? Your greatest threat now is only in being seen by those friends of the family until they have departed as well, and you’ll never really know when one of them might rear their heads and realize who you are. You should grow a mustache at once, and maybe change your hair, try parting it on the side and slick it back. Perhaps dress a little more slovenly,” she laughed.
“Never!” Perkins insisted and began spanking her as she sat on his lap.
She screamed and laughed and acquiesced too easily, “All right, damn them all then, we won’t care anyway. We’ll make the shadows our playground and lurk about in those dark spaces. We shall ride by night and sleep by day until we are old and grey and no one will even care anymore.”
“It shall be done!” he agreed.
They spent the remainder of the day in bed sleeping and sharing in the adulthood of their affection for each other. Eve was now a woman, but still with no real curves to her body and in this way she was exactly how Perkins remembered her when those momentary flashes of their youth crossed his mind.
That night they booked a late table in La Pavilion, the more elegant but less frequented dining room of the hotel because it was the most expensive and had little room for more than just couples or singles alone.
Within a corner table they sat in the small dining room beneath a dimly lit chandelier. Jo their waiter suggested an almond encrusted pork filet for dinner, but the Flapper opted for a steak, rare with a side of asparagus, while Perkins took Jo up on the offer and was delighted with the result. They raced through two bottles of wine over the course of two hours and left a generous tip for Jo charged back to the room for their late arrival and departure.
They staggered from their table and crept along the long hallway that led to the back wing as Eve grabbed his arm and suddenly remembered, “What about your things? What will become of them? They would have remained in your room but what will they have done with them?”
The couple laughed for no reason outside of intoxication as Perkins suggested, “Let’s go to the desk and ask.”
“No!” Eve argued wildly, “It’s too soon!”
“What’ll we do then?”
She looked into his eyes and taking his hand said, “I’ll introduce you to my friend, that’s what we’ll do.”
She pulled him along the short hall that led to the stairs going out back by the pool complex and along the way their fancy clothes were splattered with chlorinated water as a herd of young men were shivering from the cool night air outside and rudely pushing their way in through the hallway back into the locker rooms.
Perkins broadened his shoulders intentionally making their passage more difficult as they passed through and he exclaimed when the Flapper and the Dandy stepped outside, “I hate these people! I wish they would go back to wherever it is they come from.”
Eve whisked him along quietly outside and led Perkins by the hand along a sidewalk that passed by the glass dome of the pool now dripping like sweat down the curved glass of the windows, the steam fogging them from the warm water inside. As the clock was nearing eleven the pool was closing and the last of the Ivy League girls ran from the entry to the door screaming as they went making a scene as if to be noticed when the cold air outside touched their wet skin.
The Flapper and the Dandy walked on past the springhouse with its red pagoda style roof and white columns surrounding the low marble font in the center. They walked on the path up the hill past the garden and through the trees where upon the crest of a hill they reached a small concrete bench where Eve sat and tapped her hand next to her to insist Perkins rest beside her.
As he turned he looked back upon the colossal mass of the hotel. It had the appearance of a luxury liner from the golden age of Atlantic crossings as though it had landed upon a dry shore and remained for guests to come and stay. There were many windows aglow all along the back and convention wings that sat perpendicular to each other before their view.
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