As Celeste quietly padded along the hall she decided to tell anyone who asked that she was looking for an ice machine and some coffee. The hotel was comfortable and clean and she appreciated that. At this hour it was very quiet, not bustling with the odd noises of the hotels that house too many homeless to a room as desperate families try to cram many small children into one bed. There was a light aroma of cleaning products and a feel of comfort and safety that reminded her of Grandma’s house.
As Celeste walked she noticed there were a lot of extra doors and opened a few. These were linen closets or held cleaning supplies. Nothing interesting there. Then, as she passed a stairwell, she noticed odd wear in the flooring. It was as though someone had walked into a blank wall over and over as the path literally led to a blank wall. Finally a clue to follow. She approached the wall and looked it over carefully but saw nothing unusual. Then she ran her fingers gently along the baseboard and up the wall until she found a tiny button! Feeling as though she were sneaking into a crime scene Celeste gently pushed the button and held her breath as the wall panel slid open revealing a dimly lit passage. Carefully Celeste pushed the button again and watched as the panel slid shut.
Making a mental note of this stairwell, 1B, she went back to the hall this time a bit more deliberate in her stride. As she neared the office Celeste could hear the local news on the TV. She entered the lobby/office area and looked around. It was a very welcoming room and there would be a breakfast bar in the morning. Celeste could feel her stomach already overjoyed at that prospect! She approached the desk and noted the clerk was half asleep sitting there.
“Hi, is there an ice machine and anywhere to find a cup of fresh hot coffee?”, Celeste asked.
“Ice machine’s on the far wall and there should be a coffee maker in your room.”, the clerk replied. “Let me get you a couple extra set ups for coffee. If you’re going to start drinking it tonight you won’t have any left by morning!”, he said with a grin.
“Thank you so much! Hey, tell me a bit about this hotel? When was it built?”
“Built in the 1800s as an orphanage for children going to upper class families. It was run by an odd group that were run out of town a few years after it was built. Then it became a boarding house for a mix of railroad men, boys attending the university and train passengers.”
“Wow!”, Celeste replied. “Any good stories about the place?”
“Here’s a book with all the history. You can borrow it if you’ll read it here in the lobby. It’s my only copy.”, and he handed her a tattered book. She borrowed a pen from in a mason jar on the desk and asked for a piece if paper. Then Celeste settled at a table thinking about all she may learn tonight and how skewed life can become . .