The Hotel Exeter, established 1913 in Utica, New York. So many things have happened in her rooms. Sometimes, she’ll tell you about them — in her own way.
When a building dreams, it dreams through you.
As Jeff waited for the tub to fill, he cracked open the bottle of Johnny Walker from the courtesy fridge. Why not? He was on expense account. Bottle in hand, he walked back to the bathroom and poured in the packet of bath salts, sipping his whiskey as the flowery, citrusy smell filled the space.The other guys in Sales might laugh if they knew, but a hot bath was Jeff’s victory ritual.
And this one was well deserved; the VP had driven a hard bargain. These small-time companies in out-of-the-way cities were always the hardest: they squeezed all they could from every dollar.
But in the end, the VP had signed. Jeff took a last swig from the bottle, then undressed and got into the tub. The bubbles and foam crackled softly, comfortingly. He closed his eyes and let the warmth seep through his skin….
He jumped at the sound of footsteps in the hall outside. Had they found him? He took a gulp of the whiskey from the glass on the rim of the tub. His hand shook so much that the glass almost fell as he put it back down. Where was Lana? Why hadn’t she met him here? Did they catch her? Did she talk?
He heard someone walk in. Lana? No, Jeff’s brother, looking like he did when he was 12, in his old soccer uniform.
“Mom told Dad about the pot. You’re busted. Shoulda hid it better.”
They both looked through the bathroom door at the bulging canvas bag on the bed. The words “Bank of Syracuse” were stenciled on the side.
“Can’t fit that much money under the bed,” Jeff said. “How’d I know she’d clean my room?”
“The security guard died, you know,” Jeff’s brother said. “Dad’s really pissed. Betcha Lana told so she wouldn’t get in trouble. You are SO grounded!”
There was a folding knife on the rim of the tub, next to the whiskey glass. Jeff picked it up and unfolded it. The edge was thin, shiny.
“I can’t miss that camping trip,” Jeff said.
All the guys were going to Brian’s dad’s cabin. Brian’s dad was gonna teach them to fly-fish. Everyone was gonna be there — they’d talk about it for weeks after. He’d die if he couldn’t go.
“I can’t miss that camping trip.”
There was a knock on the door.
“Barstow? This is the police. Open this door.”
The knock sounded again, harder. Then they began to kick at the door. As the wood splintered, Jeff pulled the blade across both wrists, quickly. He watched the metallic smelling red liquid gush from his arms, turning the water pink….
Then the sting of water up his nose made him sputter and sit up. The bubbles were all gone, the water ice cold and grayish. He looked to make sure he hadn’t tipped over his glass — no, wait, he’d left the bottle in the other room.
He held his left nostril shut to blow the bath water out his right nostril, then reverse, and got out of the bath. Lesson learned: no drinking so much that you fall asleep in the tub. Jeez.
Gun and money photo: Thomas Breher. Source: Pixabay