BENNY GOT BIT is the lead story in my book STRANGEWISE NO.9. Here’s an excerpt of it. You can purchase the book on Amazon or via my shop!
BENNY GOT BIT
“Hello,” I said as I answered the phone, 2:00 am or so.
No answer but the familiar sounds of the night crew bickering, filtered through the earpiece.
“Hello,” I said again.
“Ah, hold on, Grant…..ah…,” Filbert was on the line. A bit more alert now that I know it’s him. He doesn’t ever call. His shift always glides. No worries when he’s there.
“Ah, Grant. I’m sorry Boss, but I think we need you here. Sorry about the hour and all…,” a crash, “but we kinda need you…”
“What’s going on, Fil?” Sitting on the bed now I look over at her. The look on her face, going on little to no sleep for a few weeks. Hollowed eyes looking at me as the little creature on her breast quietly sucks away. Our little boy, 5 weeks old now. Not a sleeper it seems.
“Everything ok there?”
“Um…ah, no Grant, no…It’s Benny. We need you here, Grant.”
On foot now towards the Belvedere Hotel. Fil doesn’t trick, he’s the adult down there…something serious is going on…but if it’s so serious why not call the police? I could only imagine what the matter was. And Benny….Benny had been on the crew for about 2 years now. Nice enough kid. Good Bellhop. Does his work and keeps clean.
The air was frosty, should be snowing soon. No one walking at this hour, not on these streets anyway. Nearby is a different story, though. What could be going on with the crew at the hotel? Curiosity and the cold began to quicken my pace.Turning a corner I see the hotel a few blocks away, the top floors fading into an icy mist, windows dark with an occasional lit room peeking through. The night sky crisp and sparkling, the cold air making everything look sharp, surreal. Frosty stars are beaming their light down onto the sidewalks, the buildings…accentuating everything, every crack in the streets and in the façades. The Belvedere stood before me, iridescent. The stars seem to light a path right to the entrance of the hotel for me. They’re so vibrant tonight, beautiful and screaming.
Walking into the lobby all I see is a guest leaving. An older man, stays with us often, an night owl, always heading out late. Lawyer by trade. He nods and tips his hat as he passes me. Odd that there’s no one at the front desk….just as I think this, Francis trots up to it and notices me.
“Oh, Hey Grant. The guys are in the back, by the laundry.” He says nervously, weakly pointing in the general direction.
I take my coat off and hang it behind the counter.
“Ok. What’s the matter, Francis? What’s the stink?”
“Yeah….well, not sure so much, Boss. I heard Fil say Benny got bit. Not sure though.”
“Yeah, I saw him laying down. I don’t know, he looked ok to me…He was a upset though. They were trying to calm him.”
I faintly make out several voices, all leading down the corridor to the laundry room. I nod at Francis and start walking in that direction. The hotel is quiet. The familiar faint hum you could only notice late at night…the furnace kicking on. I love this shift. Always quiet. I always felt in tune with this place at these hours. Could imagine hearing the in and out of the guests breath as they sleep. The soft swoosh of a foot entering a slipper. It seemed to all be present in the air of these corridors. I love these halls.
I reach the end and turn right. I see the night crew, most of them anyway, looking like kids at a playground after one of them took a sock to the jaw by the local bully. I felt they all wanted to run home.
“Fil! What’s the jam? Why’d you have to go and disrupt my sleeplessness?” I say with a grin, looking around at the guys.
“Grant. Benny got bit.”
“Yeah, Francis told me. And so? Bit by what?”
“Not sure but he don’t seem to be doing too well. He doesn’t want me to call a doctor. The bite’s nasty. Two actually. One on his arm and one on the neck. Kinda looks like a rat gnawed on ‘im or something.”
“Where is he?” I ask as I hear a thud and crash come out of the closet.
All heads snap in that direction. I kinda get the feeling now the guys may have good reason for their worried looks.
“That’s the thing, Grant. We locked him in there…,” Fil points to the laundry room door.