Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Oldest Bellboy and the Case of the Missing Luggage

Detective shows are all the rage right now. Everyone's watching them. Except for me. Nevertheless, the air is still filled with the latent urge to solve mysteries. So here's a short mystery, albeit my twisted take on the genre. Who knows, this piece might even spawn a series!

            Gregory was a boy no longer.  In fact, he was not even an adolescent anymore.  Or a mature adult.  Truth be told, Gregory was old.  Yet he remained, as he probably would for eternity, a bellboy.
            “Get out of my way,” bellowed the crotchety bellboy.  His back was hunched, strained under the weight of an over-stuffed, maroon suitcase.  Not wanting to feel Gregory’s wrath, the younger, spryer bellboys darted out of his path.  Once you’ve been crushed by an oncoming, baggage-laden bellboy, you never want to befall the same fate again, especially when it befell on you courtesy of Gregory.
            Gregory was tailed by a woman wearing a matching maroon dress, jacket, and silly little hat.  She could only be described as “big boned.”  Her arms were easily four feet long, and her legs had a width of two feet.  Big bones, indeed.  Other than this peculiar physicality, she seemed to be in decent shape, of average height, and of normal disposition.  For now.
            The woman—who you’ll later learn was named “Mrs. Edwardson,” but for now let’s just call her “woman”—was talking Gregory’s wrinkled ears off.  As if making him carry her bag was not enough, although it was his job, she decided she would grace his temporal lobes with her stories of lavishness.
            “—And that’s why my fifth racehorse had to be put down.  After it won the Preakness for the third time, of course.  I keep the trophy right next to my Olympic medals.  I didn’t win, or even participate, heavens no.  But when I saw the spectacular way the gold glints in the light, I knew that I must have some to adorn my mantelpiece.  My Olympic medal collection is almost as renowned as my collection of elephant tusks.  Did you know that poaching elephants is only illegal in two continents?  Not that the law applies to me, but—”
            “Here’s your room.  Ma’am,” huffed Gregory, not out of rudeness, but certainly out of breath.  “And here is your suitcase, missus…”
            “Mrs. Edwardson,” she answered.  On second thought, let’s still call her “woman.”  And with that pronouncement of her name, she took the bag inside her hotel room and shut the door.
            Gregory remained standing outside her door, still holding out for a largess in the form of the expected tip (she was rich, after all).  After ten minutes of standing outside her door, five of which were spent spontaneously napping on his feet (he was old, after all), Gregory gave up and returned to the hotel lobby to await the next guest.
            That was when it happened.  The scream.  The ear-piercing, high-pitched yelp that could have only emanated from the vocal chords of the woman (you know which woman).
            “My luggage!  It’s goooooone!” went the yell.
            All the younger bellboys glared at Gregory.  They knew she was his problem, and they would not be offering their youthful assistance.  Anyway, most of them believed that Gregory misplaced the suitcase somewhere.  He tended to lose track of a lot of things these days, including his memory (he was old, after all).
            With a huff and a sigh, the oldest bellhop trekked back up the grand staircase to see what the fuss was about.  Well, he knew that her complaint was missing baggage, but that could not be the truth.  He had hand-delivered her maroon suitcase personally, and without a tip to boot.  How could he forget that crime?  Whatever was awaiting Gregory on the other side of that hotel door, he was prepared.  He had been a bellboy for quite a number of years, and experience does (eventually, usually, hopefully) pay off.
            He opened the door.  The yelping continued.  Finally, after a hearing-loss-inducing moment, the woman noticed that someone had heeded her unwarranted call.  She closed her mouth as the final peals bounced around the room’s high ceiling.
            “You came,” she said breathlessly.
            “I did,” he replied flatly.
            “Someone stole my suitcase,” she said desperately.
            “They did?” he replied inquisitively.
            “Yes.  That’s why I called,” she said exasperatedly.
            “Oh.  Who took it?” he replied cautiously.
            “If I knew the culprit, then I wouldn’t have called for help,” she said brashly.
            “Right,” he replied without an adverb.  There were both tiresome and tiring.  “So if I may venture to an initial conclusion, in the single minute after I departed from your room, a person swooped in and robbed your luggage.”
            “That is correct, Sherlock.”  There was definitely a hint of sarcasm in her tone.
            “My name’s Gregory.”  He didn’t catch it.  Obviously.  Though the bellboy was starting to not mind the miniature mystery that had begun.  It was certainly better than hauling other people’s baggage on top of his own.  And it was leagues superior to herding the younger bellboys, the ones for whom “boy” was an apt descriptor.  “Have you any enemies, ma’am?”
            “As a matter of fact I do.”
Gregory grinned at the thought that he had stumbled upon detective gold, which is approximately equivalent in worth to aluminum.  The woman continued.  “I have started several international wars, between countries someone like yourself has never heard of, and am wanted by seventeen separate national security agencies.  So saying I have enemies is an understatement.  But none of those enemies would simply steal my carry-on without assassinating me in the process.”
            “And it seems to me that you are very much alive.”
            “Very astute.”
            “Thank you.”  Nothing could get past Gregory.  “Did your suitcase contain anything of value?”
            “I always wear all my jewelry while traveling, so no.”  The woman was, in fact, decked out in glittering diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds.  “All I had in that suitcase was my prized bowling ball, exercise dumbbells, a square foot of lead, and a photo album.”
            Gregory rubbed his curved spine.  Just hearing about the bag’s contents brought back the physical memories of carrying the blasted thing.  But past the weighty objects, one article did catch his attention.  “This photo album.  Was it of family?”
            “Yes.  It contains a collection of photos of my late parents.  I always carry it around with me to bring back the fond memories of the time I once spent with them.”  The woman wiped a sparkling tear from her eye.  It looked as if she had internalized the glittery gems she wore.  That can’t be healthy.
            “Were you an only child?”  Gregory was really getting in the swing of this detective thing.
            “Yes.  Well, no.”
            “Not to be rude, but I believe those two options are mutually exclusive when it comes to determining if another person existed.”
            “I had a brother, but he wasn’t much of one.  So I hardly count him as a sibling.”
            “Did the family disown him?”
            The woman glared at the bellboy.  “Don’t you think you’re getting into personal matters?  Now, are you going to help me find that suitcase, or will you continue this unceasing quiz?”
            “I am merely taking the intellectual route toward solving your mystery,” replied Gregory coolly, though he was beginning to doubt if this was in fact the best method of uncovering the hidden bag.
            “I think it would be more effective if you went out and found him,” snapped the rich lady.
            “So the robber was a he?  You must’ve caught a glimpse of the perpetrator, did you not?”
            “If I had the glimpse in my clutches, it has escaped now.  Slippery little devil, that glimpse.”
            “Maybe we should search for the glimpse,” suggested the bellboy, though as he spoke he realized the preposterousness of the proposition.
            “Yes, let’s.  And while we’re at it, find your wits,” the woman said bluntly.
            “Will do.”  He just wasn’t getting the hang of her sarcasm.
            Surprisingly, after only a moment’s glance around the hotel room, Gregory spotted two of the three things he was looking for.  Now with the glimpse in hand and his wits about him, the mystery could finally be solved.
            “Did this man look familiar?” questioned Gregory.
            “Yes.  Come to think of it, I think it was—”
            “Your brother!” exclaimed the bellboy with gusto.  “Let me explain.”
            “Oh, really, there’s no need to—”
            “You seemed to be hesitant about your relationship with your male sibling.  That led me to believe that your parents did not support him either.  He likely has been holding a grudge against your dear parents for years.  The only way he saw to get back at you for being the apple of their eyes was by stealing your album of nostalgic memories.  Without those photos to remind you of your relationship, you would forget about the good times you shared.  A lack of remembrance would mean, in effect, those events never occurred.”  Gregory wiped a tear from his eyes.  There was a sad truth to his correct conjectures.
            Before the woman could respond, there was a knock on the door.  In walked two of the younger bellboys, one grasping a man in black by the arm, the other holding a maroon suitcase.
            “Roger!” gasped the woman.
            “I am,” replied the man in black.
            “He is,” agreed the bellboy pinning his arm.
            “Why did you steal my luggage, brother?” asked the probable billionaire.
            Gregory glared at her.  “I think I already explained everything fairly—”
            “Jealousy.  Jealousy and revenge.  Jealousy and revenge and a lack of creative outlets,” interrupted Roger.
            “Ah yes, that’ll do it,” said the oldest bellboy, mostly to himself.  That seemed to be how he often talked these days.
            “I was never included in those photos.  And if I couldn’t be in them, then neither could you.  This was the only way to erase all memories of our unloving parents.”
            “But they did love you.  You just would never smile in the photos, so they excluded you,” she sighed.  “And then they ousted you from the family.”
            Sensing that things were going to become increasingly personal, Gregory tried extracting himself.  “Well, case closed.  Your suitcase is returned.  Jolly good.  Carry on.  Good day.”  The trite phrases continued as he sidestepped his way toward the door.  When he reached the portal, he paused in thought.
            “Yes?” asked the siblings simultaneously, obviously quite tired of the bellboy’s nosiness.
            “Out of curiosity, sir, do you happen to be currently employed as a butler?”
            “As a matter of fact, yes,” the brother confirmed.  “Why do you ask?”
            “Oh, no reason.”
            Gregory departed from the room, leaving the wealthy woman and her butler brother to sort out their untold feelings and familial issues.  He descended the stairs, taking the steps painfully slowly.
            “The stories are right,” Gregory mused out loud, once again to himself.  “The butler always did it.  Which only confirms why bellboys and butlers have such a long history of distrust and strife.  You can never trust those devils.”
            Upon reaching his perch near the hotel’s entrance, where he would wait for the next luggage (and its connected owner) to arrive, Gregory sighed and smiled.  He had solved the mystery without even leaving the room, thus avoiding unnecessary walking.  Now that’s something to be admired.

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