Here’s another one of The Haunted Wordsmith’s page and line number prompts. The way it works is that we’re supposed to grab a book…any kind of book…and flip to the designated page and then to the specified line — in this case, page 173, line 4 — and take the quoted line and use it in a story.
The book I chose for this exercise is “O Little Town” by Don Reid. Line 4 on page 173 reads, “They sneaked around a lot down here behind her husband’s back.” So given that line, here’s my story.
“When was the last time you saw the two of them together?” Detective Morrisey asked the woman with teased up, bleach-blonde hair and way too much makeup who was positioned behind the hotel’s reception counter.
“Oh they were such a lovely couple,” Jean said. “Of course, she was married, so they sneaked around a lot down here behind her husband’s back. They usually arrived on Friday nights and left after brunch on Sunday mornings. It’s such a tragedy that she’s gone missing. I bet it was the husband. It’s always the husband, isn’t it?”
Morrisey was a Joe Friday kind of detective. All he was interested in were the facts. “When was the last time they were here?” he asked, trying to hide his impatience.
“Well,” Jean said looking up toward the ceiling of the small lobby as she was searching her memory. “They had their romantic rendezvous once a month and, if memory serves, it was always on the second weekend of each month. So that would have been two weeks ago, I suppose.”
“Do you have a guest register book where they signed in or something on your computer database to document that?” Morrisey asked.
“Oh honey, we’re just a cozy country inn,” Jean said. “We don’t have a fancy-schmancy computer system. And,” Jean added with a wink and a yellow-toothed smile, “we usually don’t require our regular guests to sign the register, you know what I mean?”
“Do you remember if they left together on their last visit?” Morrisey asked.
“Sorry, detective, but Sunday is my day of rest,” Jean said. “Alan would have worked the desk that day and he’ll be here tomorrow.”
Jean looked at Detective Morrisey and decided she liked what she saw. “If you want to stay the night and talk to him in the morning, hon, I can set you up in a real nice suite and give you some very personal service, if you get my drift.” She winked at the detective again and added, “I won’t even ask you to sign the register book.”
Morrisey reach into his shirt pocket and pulled out a business card. “You’ve been very helpful, Jean, but I need to head back to the city.” He handed the card to Jean. “Leave this card for Alan with a note for him to call me tomorrow, will you, hon?”
As he was exiting the lobby, Morrisey heard Jean calling out, “I bet it’s the husband.”