21. A Midnight Hotel Check-In
Cody, Wyoming, Midnight…
I had just finished a very long day at work. I am a medical courier, and I am regularly on the road, staying in hotels, and life is never dull. This particular evening I wound up on a 500mi drive that ended in Cody Wyo, at around midnight.
It had been cold, it was December after all and this is Wyoming. The roads had been very so-so that night, they weren’t clear, but they weren’t treacherous, it was one of those drives in the dark where you are on edge the whole time. Staying alert for 500 miles in the dark, on roads that were nearly abandoned at this time of night, with light snow and heavy winds, it takes a lot out of a person. This particular week it had been very busy, I had been in 4 states that week by the time I reached Wyoming that evening.
The drive to the patients house was up a windy slick road, and the drive was uneventful. After I had dropped the medicine off to them and called the boss to let them know I had made it in and was heading to a hotel to get some sleep. Pretty usual conversation, we talked briefly about how much they would reimburse me for the hotel room. They always say $80-$100 its pretty typical, and fair, since the cheap hotel in Cody Wyo is about that price.
I however am 31 and a good nights rest, a good free breakfast, and a nice AM soak in a hot tub are requirements for when I catch myself in a hotel room. I know that by the time I get to the hotel I have put on serious miles, so I treat myself, one, because if I am staying in a hotel it has been a profitable day and I can afford to treat my self just a little, and two, I feel better after a good nights rest, a great breakfast, and a nice soak. I will not name the chain of hotels I stay at, but I frequent one chain because its the best value hotel in my home town, which is back in Nebraska. Tonight I pulled into the hotel, which I have stayed at 3 or 4 times now, so I am familiar with the place. I had called ahead about 8 hours before when I was leaving Denver to call and book a room, and let them know they would be expecting me at midnight. I walk into the hotel with my bag, dusting off the snow that had fallen on me while I got my stuff out of the car and walked inside.
Its very quiet, there’s no music and the tv isn’t on in the lobby. I wander to the counter, leaving a trail of wet shoe prints behind from coming in out of the snow into the lobby, my shoes squeaking as I approach the counter. When I get to the counter there is no one at there. On the counter is a bowl of ice cream, with a brownie from the restaurant connected to the hotel, the local paper is open to the comics page, and the Sudoku is half filled out with a pen sitting there. Hanging on the back of the chair is a small ladies coat with fake fur fringe around the hood, on the floor next to the chair are a pair on smaller pink and black Nikes, and a black purse.
I figure that she, by the assumption of the coat, shoes and purse, is in the bathroom, so I stand at the counter quietly, waiting on her to return. I fiddle with my wallet getting out my card to pay for it and my ID. I scroll thru on my phone and hook to the free wifi. 5 minutes go by. Then 10. At 15 minutes the phone starts ringing. I still had no idea where she was, and I had begun to get irritated, it had been a long day and I wanted to get rested before I got up and drove home in the morning.
After the phone stopped ringing, and I started to get frustrated, I began to wander around the lobby, and behind the counter shouting “Hello, is any one here?” as loudly as possible. The area behind the counter is an employee only area. I venture back behind the counter where a hallway leads to the back of house area connected to the offices, staff elevator, bathrooms, laundry and the restaurant. I venture down the hallway shouting hello, still no one answers. It is now 1230am.
As I return to the counter and begin looking for a posted phone number for a manager, or some one of authority, the phone rings, the cordless phone still laying next to the paper she had opened. Frustrated, and exhausted I answer the phone, hoping its some one who could tell me where the woman is who is supposed to check me in. Its not. Its another guest, who had tried calling earlier for a wake up call in the morning. I explain to the gentleman on the phone my situation, and how I can not help him. He states he is coming to the lobby to help me look for the “girl” at the counter. I had not found a number to call.
5 minutes go by and the strange older man, with odd glasses and long unkept hair comes into the lobby from the first floor hallway. At this point I had been behind the counter, and had been shouting to the point I feared I may wake up other guests. I had wandered thru the back area, the lobby and the front part of the restaurant, all while shouting, and no one responded. This guy had given me the creeps, and I was exhausted but on high alert, there was an employee missing, and a creepy guy who just happened to appear in the same time she is missing. Feeling nervous about this gentleman I stay prepared for any strange behavior and keep myself at least arms distance from him the entire time. I explain where I have looked. That I have yelled. At this point I begin to go thru what I call “worst case scenario preparation”. This guy could of easily overpowered a small woman. I may be standing here with a crazy person. I keep my space, and my back towards the main entry just in case. I am a grown man, just under 6ft, I have had self defense courses, and I have a CCW (Concealed Carry Weapon) after encountering a bear at a patients house in the fall. I have no reason to believe I am in immediate trouble but this guy just gives me the creeps. It is at this point I debate calling the cops. Its now 1245am.
The gentleman tells me, maybe she’s in the bathroom, which i respond to that I had thought that myself, but I had walked by and yelled loudly when I walked thru the back and no one responded. He insists we check the bathrooms. My red flag goes off and I put another foot or two of space between us as I let him lead us down the hallway to the employee bathroom. My heart and mind a racing at this point, did this dude kill her and now he’s gonna try to kill me, I start to worry about my safety as we go down a hallway that leads to small rooms and with one exit in and out. We reach the bathroom.
He knocks and announces himself, then opens the door. The bathroom is empty. We check a few more rooms and the elevator and find nothing. We venture back to the lobby where I stand behind the counter looking for any phone number that could be a manager or supervisor. After about 10 mins I find a number and some one answers, Its now 1255am the half asleep voice on the other end of the phone is the maintenance woman for the hotel. Confused as to who I am and why I am calling I explain the situation as the creepy man stands on the other side of the counter staring at me in a dead cold manner. The maintenance woman says she will be there in 10 minutes or so. I hang up the phone.
I walk around the counter still confused looking at her stuff there, as if she just vanished. Its at this point I decide to wander towards the lobby/seating for the restaurant. Once in the doorway I turn the corner and down at the end of the booths there are a pair of legs hanging out of the booth. I had walked with in 15 feet of there while checking around before the creepy guy showed up.
I see her legs hanging and instantly the pit of my stomach turns sour and a sense of dread comes over me. Suddenly the creepy guy walks right up by me. Thinking the worst I take a few quick steps away from him and down the row of booths in the dark restaurant. With him at the other end, I look in the booth where she is laying. She is maybe 20 and very pretty. I shake her foot, she doesn’t respond. I shake again, saying ‘HEY!” Nothing.
Its at this moment the creepy guy starts down the booth that I finally feel I may need to defend myself. I kneel down to draw from my ankle holster as he quickly comes down the row of booths, and its at this exact moment the girl wakes up and accidentally kicks me in the chest knocking me gently on my ass and stopping Mr Creepy in his tracks, also stopping me from drawing a weapon. She had been asleep. Mr Creepy was just a guest. Moments later the Maintenance Woman arrived and by 115am I was in my room trying to decompress.