The Arlington Hotel was a little over an hour drive southwest from the Roland Police Department, and Detective West wanted to commit to following up on the lead Finn gave about the matchbook when he collected his mother’s personal belongings. She had checked it out of evidence to take with her on her trip, following the protocols for transporting evidence, of course. She knew the matchbook was important to find out what happened to Georgia Marlow. Finn’s reaction to the matchbook made her very curious, as he was the one that knew her better than anyone. It was a good lead. She didn’t have a warrant, but she was hoping to get a gut feeling about the surroundings and go from there. She was on a quest to get to the truth of what happened to Ms. Marlow, and this hotel would hopefully give her and the family some answers.
Her only wish was that Finn could be involved in the investigation, and she saw him as a meticulous detective, which she learned by word-of-mouth and going through his personnel file. She imagined he would make a solid partner in the field also. She had not heard from him in a few days, and she figured she would check in after checking out the location. In the investigation, she had to think that everyone was suspect and investigate their characters. She was happy to find that Finn was not involved early on.
If she had known everything about the Devilles, the fact that she could not reach Finn Marlow would have probably alarmed her further than what it did. His being absent from checking in with Detective West was a red flag, but she had not related Georgia’s murder to that insanely petty and unusual family just yet.
When she arrived at the hotel, she observed several cameras on her way through the parking lot and upon the building by the circle drive to the entrance. She was amazed at how historic it looked, but it had become a landmark for the old days of gangsters and mafia-like entities. As she entered the entry of the hotel, a circle drive, she was greeted by a valet when she pulled up to the door. Of course, she couldn’t let them park her cruiser, so she flashed her badge and walked inside the lobby of the hotel.
The front desk receptionist greeted her with a smile as she approached. She was an average girl with rosy cheeks and a big beaming personality. “Welcome to the Arlington Hotel, ma’am. Do you have a reservation?” She was very friendly and professional, at the same time.
“No, I am just wanting to look around a bit before I book my room. Do you have openings for walk-ins?” Detective West figured she would scope where all the cameras were located before telling the nice employee that she was a detective. “A friend of mine stayed here before and gave me your hotel’s matchbook, so I figured I would come to see what all the hype was about.”
“How wonderful! We do allow walk-ins if we are not at a full capacity, Miss…?” She was inquiring for the last name as many of the professional hotels do to make sure that you are not trying to get the room by the hour.
“West. Sarah West. My friend’s last name was Marlow. Sound familiar at all?”
“I think so, actually…she was a regular that would come here with Mr. Deville. She is such a beautiful spirit.” The girl smiled and fidgeted with her paperwork and mumbled a few lyrics from the music playing in the lobby.
“Nice music you have playing…I’ll go ahead and check out the amenities, and I’ll be back to get my room.”
“Great, Miss West. I’m glad you are enjoying it. This song is my favorite. Have fun exploring, Sarah.” She was clueless that West had ulterior motives.
Sarah smiled largely at the dark-haired desk clerk and said, “Thank you. I’ll be back soon.”
Detective West walked away from the counter towards the elevators, observing each corner of the lobby and the waiting area by the elevators. There was a couple sitting in the comfort area with their son, who was the epitome of his father. You could tell they were a product of the so-called “Southern Hospitality” that Arkansas is sometimes known for. Detective West came from California originally, so she wasn’t buying the facade of it all. There was definitely a paradigm shift between the cultures of both states, and West really missed the West Coast most times. There are cameras everywhere, she said to herself. The lobby had a bookcase encased television that was a Zenith, one of the best brands of course.
The lobby played old country songs, like Kenny Roger’s The Gambler, and there was alcohol served in the dining area called the Venetian Dining Room. She had read before her trip that Al Capone frequented the establishment with many guards and a bird’s eye view to the Southern Club. The history of the hotel says that there is a suite with his name on it, Number 443. It did not give the young detective any satisfaction that the hotel idolized criminal activities. In fact, she rolled her eyes at the thought of it. This hotel was not winning any points with its shady background. Al Capone was one, and Lucky Luciano was two, and the devil makes three, she thought to herself.
Suddenly, as she reflected on the hotel’s past, her pager went off while she was browsing around the lobby. The beep and vibration startled her because they echoed loudly in the ancient room. It was a number she recognized. It was Finn Marlow. She observed a payphone by the public bathrooms in the lobby, so she checked to make sure she had some quarters in her pocket to call back. She didn’t want to ask the desk clerk of the hotel to use the phone line. She could imagine that the lady at the desk would be eavesdropping on her conversation, so the payphone was sufficient to return his call. She realized she didn’t need to rile anyone up just in case she found nothing. So far, she had not seen anything that would indicate criminal mischief, making it safe for her to call Finn. He used the code “911” after his telephone number, which meant something was up. Something dire.
As she took the steps to place the call, inserting quarters while holding the earpiece with her shoulder, she dialed the number on her pager. The buttons were metal, and the earpiece was quite heavy. It rang a few times and Finn picked up.
“Hello, Detective Marlow speaking…”
“Hi, this is Detective West returning your call from my pager.”
“Oh, thank goodness that you responded so quickly. I have some evidence being collected at my and Brooke’s home. Can you come by?” Finn was eager for Detective West to respond.
“I am in Hot Springs right now, so I can get to you in about an hour, give or take. I was following up on the matchbook.” West informed him.
“Sounds good. Have you found anything?” His voice was anxious.
“Not yet. I’ve just been here about 30 minutes, so what’s up?” West looked around to make sure no one was listening.
“You won’t believe what we found in our house. The CSI team is still here and will be awaiting your arrival. We will have some tea and coffee on to brew. It’s going to be a long night.” Finn explained to the detective.
“It sounds exigent. Are you okay?” Detective West could tell that Finn was distressed and sad. “I hate to say that the anticipation is going to drive me nuts on the drive back over to your place.” She figured she would make another trip to the hotel because of how his tone was; therefore, she found it best that she cut this visit short.
“Sorry about that…I am sure when you see what we have that you will think it to be unfathomable. It really speaks to the disdain people have in their hearts for others.” Finn sounded sad, yet still indefatigable. He left her dangling in the crosshairs of curiosity again.
“Okay, Detective Marlow. I am on my way out of here as soon as we get off the phone. Take care until I get there.” She hung up the phone and rushed out to her vehicle that still sat in the circle drive.
She waved and gave a nod to the valets that sat waiting for their customers as she pulled off and headed back to Roland.
For my new readers, this is an ongoing story. I use several prompts to build on my novel, and their word prompts and challenges are linked, bolded, or italicized. Please be sure to visit them and show some love because without them I would not have nearly 40K words written in this novel.
Here are the previous posts:
Thank you to my fellow bloggers for inspiring this novel! This started from Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge (#FFFC)