Who is the slapdash, foolish criminal behind a crime scene in a hotel?
| I explored the pool area during my fourth day at Daytona's Pilgrim's Inn. The property was nice and ample, but it felt too hot to be under the sun at this time of the year in Florida.
There was nowhere to go, not even my room. The maid had shooed me out. At first, I suspected that she found out I was a sloppy klutz, but she said it was the hotelâ€™s policy not to clean the rooms when the guests were inside. Strange policy, yet I obliged.
I bought a USA Daily from the vending machine and sat in one of the rickety arm chairs in the tiny hallway they called â€śThe Lobby.â€ť This place could be managed much better in other hands, I reflected.
I looked up as the groundskeeper entered with a policeman and a detective. They started to question the anorexic girl with limp hair at the front desk. I hid behind the pages of the newspaper, eavesdropping.
â€śWe need all the sheets with blood on them,â€ť the detective said. â€śAnd donâ€™t let anyone into room 209. Weâ€™ll tell you when weâ€™re finished with it. If the papers are ready, Iâ€™ll sign them now.â€ť
I was staying in room 208 right across from 209. Certainly nothing had happened the night before. All I had heard was a gentleman snoring in room 210.
Who would talk about what happened, if anything did happen? Certainly not the limp-haired girl or the grumpy maid who cleaned the room, nor the waiter in the cafeteria. Nobody seemed to be friendly here. So unusual for a Florida hotel where they usually go out of their way to be chatty while wearing pasted smiles on their faces.
I folded the newspaper and walked outside straight to the front yard of the hotel. Room 209 had its window facing the front while my window opened to the back. As soon as I started walking, the detective and the groundskeeper sauntered out the front door.
â€śMa'am," the detective yelled. "Please, stay away from the yellow tape!â€ť
â€śSorry,â€ť I said, â€śWas there a problem? Iâ€™m staying in this hotel. Now Iâ€™m worried.â€ť
â€śNothing to worry, Miss,â€ť the groundskeeper said. â€śAn unexpected thing got us upset. So we called the police. Nothing really happened.â€ť
I turned around and went inside. I knew he wasnâ€™t telling the truth. I waited for the policeman and the detective to leave. I had to find out what they knew, how much they knew. Then I should inform the other guests in the hotel and maybe even the news media. They shouldnâ€™t be accepting guests here if a crime had been committed.
An hour or so later, I walked out of the hotel into the front yard again. I saw the groundskeeper pruning the shrubbery. When I got him to talk, he told me of several eerie incidents. In the beginning of the week, the maids kept finding bloodied sheets and towels. About two nights ago a strange noise was heard from 209. Next morning, they found a portable radio in the room but the television set was missing. A few minutes later the groundskeeper found the television set in the bushes right under 209â€™s window. The police had found a footprint behind the bushes. A knife with a sticky white substance was left by the windowsill.
â€śWas there a murder here?â€ť I asked quite shaken.
He shook his head.
â€śA burglary maybe?â€ť
â€śNo, Miss. Nothingâ€™s missing except for the TV set that was thrown out the window.â€ť
â€śDo you mean it is much ado about nothing?â€ť
â€śWell, Miss. That nothing is something.â€ť
Weird people... This hotel needed a complete face-lift together with its employees.
In the hallway I bumped into the maidâ€™s pushcart.
â€śYour room is clean now. You can go in,â€ť she said with a smirk.
I went in and turned on the television, thinking maybe I should leave now. I opened a drawer and took out a loaf of bread, peanut butter, and Fluff. It was time for my midmorning snack, my beloved fluffernutter.
There was a knock at the door. I opened the door enough to see the detective and groundskeeper. They pushed their way in.
â€śMiss Snider,â€ť the detective said. â€śI need you to come with me to the station.â€ť
Then he read me my rights.
â€śBut why?â€ť I asked. â€śWhat am I accused of?â€ť
â€śIndustrial spying and malice with intent to slander the reputation of an establishment and damaging property.â€ť
â€śBut why would I do such things?â€ť
â€śMiss Snider, your real name is Elsa Diamond, isnâ€™t it?â€ť
â€śYes,â€ť I said taken aback. â€śBut you have to understand, I have to protect myself from people whoâ€™d recognize the name.â€ť
â€śEven so, why would you be staying here in this hotel when your father is the owner of The Diamond Resorts and Inns? Your father wants to buy out Pilgrimâ€™s Inn and he set you to work. Didnâ€™t he?â€ť
â€śYou canâ€™t prove that.â€ť
â€śYes, we can. True, you left no fingerprints. The blood stains on the sheets were that of a cow and the maid said she found fresh meat in your wastebasket everyday. Yet you always ordered vegetarian food at the cafeteria. The footprint outside under the window was yours and the portable radio, which was left there for a red herring,â€ť he pointed to my nightstand, â€śwas the one the maid saw over there during the first day you were here. The knife we found was plain forgotten, due to sloppy habits. The only thing we didnâ€™t know was the sticky white substance on it.â€ť
â€śNow I know what it is,â€ť The detective reached out for the Fluff jar.â€śYou have a rotten diet for a weight lifter who could tear a fixed TV set off its stand and throw it out the window.â€ť
Too bad. Pilgrimâ€™s Inn could be made into such a sparkling resort. Well, what can I say? You gain some, you lose some.