"Seeing and Being Seen" - Tales From The Park-Side - Halloween at Home


Tales From The Park-Side is a series of horrific short stories inspired by places and artifacts that can be found inside a certain little theme park in central Florida. These stories are written by members of the Orlando area entertainment and theme park industry and were curated by Audrey Brown-Willaims.

"Seeing and Being Seen"

by Caitlyn Bukaty


THE DAY MR. CROSS CHECKED OUT


“It looks perfectly ordinary to me Mrs. Leary,” sighed Harlan Clark.


“Mister Clark,” argued Estelle Leary, “in 25 years cleaning this hotel I’ve never seen this lamp!”


“Perhaps,” muttered the hotel manager of 6 months, “you should clean your glasses.”


Estelle’s indignation was interrupted. Harlan called to the bell captain in the hallway, “Rupert, would you kindly relieve Mrs. Leary of this burden and return this displaced lamp to the lobby?”


“Rupert would you kindly,” Estelle’s glare betrayed her salutation, “confirm to Mr. Clark that no lamp of this likeness has ever existed in this hotel?”


Rupert avoided arguments, especially Estelle’s. “Right then, I’ll get this on its way.” He hoisted the weighty fixture onto his luggage trolley. The disagreement between the veteran housekeeper and the new hotel manager followed Rupert down the hallway.


“Guests do strange things, Mrs. Leary-”


“How on earth would you know Mr. Clark? Did they cover that at your fancy Ivy League hotel school?” she huffed.


“Be sure to change those bed linens.” he replied.


“What do you take me for!?” she nearly screamed.


Rupert closed the gate of the maintenance service elevator with a clatter. He glanced at the lamp from Room 1117, thinking of the room’s most recent occupant. Rupert had hoped to be on duty when Mr. Stephen Cross checked out. Instead, he learned of his departure after the fact.


Mr. Cross had arrived at Hollywood’s finest hotel on the evening of January 31st. As Rupert showed him to his room he bantered: “Will Mrs. Cross be joining you?”


“Ah,” the guest smiled mildly, “I’m afraid she’s…otherwise occupied.” Mr. Cross told Rupert he was headed to Canada, motioning to his attaché, suitcase, and large trunk, “to investigate some business prospects.”


“You should ring in the new year at our supper club tonight,” Rupert suggested, “on the top of the tower, a great view of the city, and Hollywood’s finest,” he finished with a wink. As the bell captain departed with a substantial gratuity, Stephen Cross thought of home.

THE DAY MR. CROSS ARRIVED


A relaxing week away from work, a comfortable seat beside the fire. His wife’s whiney, high-pitched pronouncement: “You never take me anywhere! We should be doing things, seeing people, being seen.”


This again from the lovely Mrs. Celia Cross, polished, stunning…insufferable.


An idea struck. “Shall we head to the city for New Year’s Eve? Have a grand evening to usher in the new year?”


Celia looked surprised at Stephen’s quick acquiesce. He covered, “Celia if you insist, and moreover, if you promise to stop nagging, I’ll make sure the new year finds you in Hollywood, in the grandest of fashion.” It worked. Celia ran off to prepare.


A visit to the wine cellar, a bottle of Celia’s favorite red. He filled her glass generously throughout dinner. They retired to the sitting room. Celia nodded off.


Stephen needed to be quick. Why didn’t I plan better? A glance around the room, a modern-looking table lamp, it had a weighty base. Stephen moved swiftly. Picking up the lamp, creeping silently behind Celia’s chair.


Before I lose my nerve!


Raising the lamp, he brought it down hard. A crack of her skull, a thud as she hit the floor. Celia’s vacant expression.


Success!


He rolled her body onto a thick area rug. Wipe the lamp, wipe the floor. That old rug was collecting the blood nicely.


I’ll dispose of her body! Burn her to ash!


That task was harder than it sounded. After nearly two days he had reduced his wife’s body to cinders.


Thankfully we gave the housekeeper the week off.


Stephen swept Celia’s remains into a pile. He looked around.


Hide her in plain sight!


The lamp. He examined the base, its sliding bottom jarred by the impact. He slid it further to reveal a substantial compartment.


“Now that’s irony!”


Stephen funneled in the ash, forcing the bottom into place with a final click. A bit more cleaning, a hastily packed suitcase, a large trunk for the lamp. Stephen called for a car, then left a memo for his business partner - a family emergency, be in touch.


The driver delivered him to Hollywood’s finest hotel. After a pleasant check-in, Stephen secured his hotel room door, opened his trunk, and removed the lamp, setting it ceremoniously on the vanity. “Here you are Celia, in Hollywood, in grand fashion.”


Stephen rang in the new year at the supper club, at Rupert’s suggestion. He made acquaintance with a stunning showgirl, Nancy- or Nellie? When she awoke in Room 1117 on January 1st she sat up, stretched, and commented on the handsome lamp.


THE DAY MR. CROSS CHECKED OUT


The elevator shuddered to a stop. Rolling the trolley into the lobby Rupert spotted a small end table, against the wall. “Perfect.”


Celia Clark, permanent resident, seeing and being seen.



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