Here’s the thing…
Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.
I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.
But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.
Once again there’s a new instalment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.
Before the waterfront cleanup, the Shingle Inn was another of those places respectable people didn’t go to. And those from out of town only stayed there if everything else was taken, or they were looking for a reason to visit a hospital.
I knew this not because it was advertised on the radio or television, or it was in the newspapers, or it probably was but I never read any of them, but because several of my senior year classmates went there on a dare to sample ‘the fare’.
They learned the lesson the hard way so all the rest of us wouldn’t make the same mistake.
So, the question I had to ask myself when I reached the safety of a bus shelter about 100 yards from the bar, was the reason Nadia was staying there, or if she was not, how did she have a room key.
I was hoping she had not fallen into the ways some of the girls did, going down the path of drugs, loans they couldn’t pay, and ending being owned by some seedy man. That had happened too, and to girls, I had believed knew better.
I guess I was no judge of character, then or now.
Should I go there now and wait for her, perhaps check the place out, and the room, and see if she was staying there.
Or should I read between the lines, and consider this might be a trap of some sort, and that her brother, Vince, would turn up and ‘teach me a lesson not to meddle in their affairs’. The latter seemed more likely.
And yet it was the dumb ass stupid streak I had that was telling me to go, just to see what happened. I wasn’t looking for nor did I expect that she was offering me anything, so, giving her the benefit of the doubt, it might mean she was entertaining my suggestion of getting the map to get her off Alex’s hook.
That would then leave only one question, what did I want from her in return.
Fifteen minuted before the hour was up, I was standing in the shadows watching the Inn. In the hour since the bar, the sun had gone down, and now the Inn, shrouded in gaudy colours from broken neon lights, and a sign that made it look like a hotel in paradise, looked like it was, a den of iniquity.
The girls for hire were still there. The rooms had different lights above the door of each room that I could see, one red one green which I guessed let others know the room was free or occupied.
The room the key Nadia had given me had no lights on, so I was not sure what that meant.
Ten minutes to go, a car pulled up outside the office, and I saw Vince get out.
Illusion shattered. It was a setup, she was upset by my appearance at the bar and had called in the punishment crew. Two minutes later he came back out of the office with a briefcase, got in the car, and drove off.
Was the Inn one of the Cossatino’s establishments, or was that for protection, or picking up drugs? Or all three?
I shrugged. Time to find out what Nadia’s intentions were.
I kept to the shadows, crossed the road where it was darkest, and came upon the room from the rear fire stairs. The room was the second from the end, so I would not have to walk along the balcony very far, and risk being seen.
At the door, a look in either direction, I unlocked the door, opened it, and waited to see if there were any surprises inside waiting, nothing stirred, so I went in and closed the door behind me.
There were no surprises inside; it was just a room with two beds and a bathroom. A suitcase was beside one of the beds, and its contents spread over the bed.
The aroma of some recognisable perfume came from the bathroom, looking a mess with worn clothes on the floor in one corner, and used towels in the other.
She was staying here. One of the questions I was going to ask was why?
© Charles Heath 2019