Emmett Westerly had seen his share of strange people as a hotel clerk at The Whitmore Towers for 25-years. None stranger however, than the man in room 313.
He was living there before Emmett was hired in 1936. His neighbors never saw him during the day. Whatever chance encounters occurred were brief and at night. His name was Christopher Ward Cummings III. He was a tall thin man who wore a black hat and a three-piece suit. The brim of the hat was always tilted forward, partly obscuring his smoldering dark eyes. It made him look like a stereotypical spy in the movies. He seldom spoke. In all of Emmett’s years at the Whitmore, he only heard him speak a handful of times. His voice was memorable. Buttery, but threatening at the same time.
When not on duty, Emmett had a small room behind the main desk. It was all he needed being a single man. He ate all of his meals at the hotel’s first floor restaurant which was open 24-hours a day. He went to the movies once a week, which satisfied his sense of adventure, along with his hobby of reading Hollywood monster magazines. His love life consisted of an occasional tryst with a married woman in room 422.
Christopher Ward Cummings III never lost sight of his mission in life.
He’d been hunting vampires for 30-years and lived like one in order to track them down. He went out into the streets of the city every night, searching for bloodsuckers stalking neighborhoods; armed with a wooden stake, a gun with silver bullets, and a long knife he used to cut off heads. He inherited the job. As did his father before him. The Secret Society he belonged to had a long history of killing vampires. They started out in Europe, but soon worked their way to the New World as reports of vampires there surfaced. The migration began long before Christopher was born.
He, like his peers in the Knight’s of St. George, knew that some vampires were just too powerful and it could be a suicide mission to attack them. But he did anyway. It was in his DNA. Their war was thousands of years old, going back to when mankind still lived in animal hide tents and ate raw meat. Christopher descended from a long line of royalty in Spain that was said to have driven the vampires from the country.
A typical night adventure.
Christopher has been lurking for hours behind a car parked directly across from a nightclub in the seediest section of town. His patience pays off when he spots a man and a woman come out of the club. She can barely walk. The man is supporting her and heading for a nearby alley. He waits until they disappear around the corner of the old brick building before running up to the alley entrance. Crouching like a big cat he slowly enters the alley with gun in hand. The thirsty vampire has the woman leaning back into the wall and has peeled her blouse off to get at her throat. She is unconscious and unaware of her looming fate. Taking careful aim at the bloodsucker, Christopher fires two rounds into its body!
The creature whirls in agony as the silver bullets weaken it enough for him to approach with his knife and cut off its head! The woman slides down into a heap at the base of the wall. Still alive, although unconscious. He pulls out a burlap bag he brought with him and puts the vampire’s head in it…careful to avoid the fangs of the still snapping jaw. Much like a snake’s head when severed.
Before the night ends he buries the head in a deep hole, after setting it on fire.
Two nights later.
Emmett was reading a monster magazine when a stranger wrapped in a black cloak with hood approached the check-in counter and asked what room Christopher Ward Cummings III was in? Annoyed at the interruption Emmett brushed him off, “We don’t give out that kind of information at The Whitmore,” and started to go back to his magazine. The stranger reached out with a pale skeletal hand and tore the magazine violently away from him!
“What room did you say he was in?” he growled.
“I didn’t…take it easy pal. It’s against the rules for me to tell you that. I just work here. I can take a message of you’d like?” he offered weakly.
The pale face under the hood grimaced angrily, and his eyes burned like red coals in the sunken sockets that stared at him. That mesmerized him. That ordered him to tell what room Christopher was in. For hours afterward he sat staring into space until someone shook him.
“Hey Emmett! Are you okay buddy?” the night watchman asked, concern in his voice. “I was making my rounds and saw you sitting here like a zombie, and had to check on you. Long shift, eh?”
“Yeah…that’s it Larry. Thanks for checking anyway.“
As the watchman headed for the elevator Emmett tried to clear his head. He vaguely remembered what happened. Like a bad dream. The next night was busy because it was a Friday night, and people were coming and going constantly well into the late hours. To his surprise he saw Christopher come out of the elevator and walk over to him. His curiosity climbed the wall as he waited to hear what he wanted.
“I had an unwanted visitor last night,” he said with a dark edge to his voice. “My question for you is, did you give out my room number?“
Horrified at the accusation, Emmett’s mouth turned to cotton as he tried to frame a reply. “I couldn’t help it,” he confessed. Christopher’s expression softened. “Describe the stranger who approached you.”
After Emmett was done he nervously waited for Christopher’s reaction to his description.
“Yes. I thought so. The clumsy bastard tried to ambush me in my own room last night. You should know that he was a vampire.“
“Oh yes. I have his head in this bag. It turned out all right this time, but we must come up with a plan to avoid it happening again. Think about it will you? I have business to finish now.“
“Yes…yes, sir. I’ll think about it all right.”
He watched Christopher walk out into the night with his bag. Afterwards, he pulled out his stack of monster magazines from under the counter, and unceremoniously dumped them into a metal trash can.
As It Stands, when fantasy and reality collide, it’s time for a new hobby.