Thursday, October 13, 2011

the haunted hotel

The manager of the hotel, a brisk woman with administrative hair, is waiting for us just the other side of the revolving doors.
‘We do provide shower mats,’ she says, leading us across the lobby to the lift. ‘I don’t know why she didn’t use it.’
She explains that Jean had rung the desk first thing to ask for a taxi to take her to the hospital. When they asked why, she said she’d fallen in the shower last night and hurt her side.
‘How does she seem to you?’ I ask her as the ancient metal doors of the lift slide shut. ‘Badly hurt?’
‘She has a lot of pain in her side. I should imagine she’s cracked a rib or something.’
The lift gives a little shake, slowly winds upwards, then after some false stops gives an arthritic judder and the doors open again. We step out onto a boxy landing with a warren of lopsided corridors leading off in all directions.
‘Even I get lost sometimes,’ says the manager, scurrying off ahead of us, dusting the low-ceiling with her hairdo as she goes.
‘Maybe the hotel ghost can show us out,’ says Frank.
She gives him a stern look over her shoulder, as if he’s letting out a secret she’d rather keep from the guests.
‘It’s over four hundred years old,’ she whispers. ‘It’s seen a lot in that time.’
She strides on, her tights swishing and the old boards creaking.
‘Here we are,’ she says at last, standing outside a door so tiny it wouldn’t look out of place in the side of a toadstool.
She knocks twice and we follow her in.

Jean is sitting in a wicker chair, leaning over to her right.
‘I’m sorry to trouble you, hen,’ she says. ‘I didn’t want to get the ambulance out but the staff here insisted.’
‘What’s happened to you, Jean?’
‘Ach – it’s stupid. I feel so cross with myself. I was taking a shower late last night and when I went to get out the floor was so slippery my feet just went and I landed on my side, here.’
She puts a hand to her left side and flinches with the pain. ‘It took me an hour to get up and dry and away back into bed. And then in the morning I could hardly move. I come down to see the family and look what I go and do.’
‘Let’s have a look.’
Lifting up her pyjama top reveals a pattern of livid bruising.
‘Nasty. I think you might have fractured a rib or two, Jean. We should definitely take you up the hospital for some decent pain relief, and to make sure there’s no underlying tissue damage.’
‘Oh – bless you, hen,’ she says, patting my hand. ‘Bless you. I don’t want to be a trouble to you, but I know I’ve got to go. Eighty-two years and not a thing wrong, so I’m not doing so bad. I used to work for the hospital m’seln. And then we were over in Romania with the poor wee orphans. So now it’s my turn, I suppose.’
‘Do you think you can walk, Jean? We can get a chair if not.’
‘Ach – away with your fuss! I’m no getting carried out. Here – gis’ a hand up and let’s be on.’
The manager is standing in the bathroom holding a shower mat.
‘It was here, but someone had draped it over the rail for some reason.’
I half expect her to hand out witness statements and disclaimers, but instead she puts the mat down on the bathroom floor and opens the door for us.
‘I’m pretty sure the lift’s this way,’ she says, hurrying on.
‘I’m amazed they’re still allowed a ghost,’ whispers Frank, holding out his arm. 'Come on, Jean. Let's get you down to the ambulance.'

13 comments:

Crimson Ebolg said...

Wonderful stuff! Particularly liked the 'administrative hair'. Such vivid imagery!

jacksofbuxton said...

The minute the manager opened with "We've got shower mats you know" it was obviously an attempt to cover the hotel from any legal action.

Although I like the idea of a ghost being called in by the defence as a witness.

Spence said...

Thanks Crimson. It's that particular kind of power-dressing that makes me want to turn and run.

Hey JoB. You can't help but sigh when you hear those lines swung into action.

I think ghosts are def underused. I'm sure they'd be happy to work for very little, just a freshly laundered sheet and a place to lay their head ... *gulp*

tpals said...

Jean sounds like a sweet old lady. Great imagery, Spence.

Spence said...

Thanks tpals. She was absolutely lovely! And I love that Glaswegian 'hen' thing!

Nari said...

I am truly enjoying picturing the administrative hair dusting that low ceiling.

The hotel may not be haunted at all, from the way it sounds, it seems possible that various hotel guests just can't find their way out and roam the halls calling for assistance.

Spence said...

Could be! Except by the way the manager blanched when the word 'ghost' was used, I'm guessing there's more to it! :/

M Pax said...

I enjoyed this story. The hotel came off as ... well, just covering their butt.

Spence said...

Thanks MPax. I'm afraid there was a sense of some butt-covering going on. The manager was concerned - it's just you could tell she didn't lose sight of her other, more administrative side...

PaperTigger1 said...

It sounds like her 'administrative side' was her head, given your description of her hair! Of course, that means her concern would truly be from the heart.

Spence said...

I like that idea PT1 - maybe if you cut her hair she'd be a bit more chilled about the H&S aspects.

I remember someone once telling me to 'grow my aerial' (because she thought short hair made you less receptive to the world). So I did - but it used to fluff out when I washed it, so I always wore it tied back, which just interfered with the signals as well (a terrible excuse for not doing much, I know) It's shorter now, by the way. Like having Freeview instead of Sky.

~BB~ said...

Now I know why I don't comment much - I would just find myself saying the same thing over and over: I love your blog, and I simply adore what you can convey with so little.

Spence said...

Thanks BB - for the comment, and for coming back to read the blog!