The Brotherhood #49
By Mark W. Meier
Waterloo city inspectors condemned Amy’s apartment building the day after her meeting with Ben Kiel. Nobody seemed to know what the issue was, but the eviction notices were taped to every door in the building. Amy had one week to find somewhere else to live.
Her best friends, the ones who’d survived the spate of deaths plaguing Amy’s life, had out-of-town family coming to visit. Even acquaintances couldn’t find room for her to stay for various reasons – fumigation, they didn’t want any disruption to their newborn baby’s life, husband and wife sleeping apart, and working odd hours. One on-and-off friend had broken an ankle that morning and couldn’t risk getting it bumped in her small apartment.
When Amy heard from Ben Kiel that he’d rented a room for her at a hotel along Highway 218, she was surprised. “I’m not even paying you.” A wave of gratitude washed over her and she had sit and rest her elbow on the table simply to keep from dropping her phone.
“It’s the right thing to do, Amy,” he said. “It’s not the best of places, but it’s not the bottom of the barrel, either. You can move in after work tonight. I told them you’d be late checking in, so nine tonight is okay. I have an idea about why this is happening.”
“I’m pretty sure I do, too.” Forces were being arranged to block her from doing something. Too bad she didn’t know what that thing was.
She had three hours to pack everything into her car, including her aloe vera plant. She’d need to keep it on the store counter for her six-hour shift. Freezing the roots would kill it. She could check in at the hotel after work, and she’d be living so much closer to work she could almost walk back and forth – almost.
Amy’s problems weren’t solved, however. When she arrived at the hotel with her aloe plant after work the clerk told her, “We don’t have you listed.”
“Are you sure? I was told by my lawyer he had a reservation for me.” She placed the terracotta pot on the counter and gave him her best smile to disarm him. Over the last few months Amy’d had to practice smiling. With so much tragedy in her life it took effort to not be downcast. However, there was no reason to inflict her problems on everyone.
Despite her friendly gesture, the clerk, Gavin, seemed dismissive. “Nothing for Amy Drabbs. There’s only one open room, and that reservation is not for you.” He turned his back.
Amy squinted in suspicion. “What’s the name on that one?” Why had he been borderline rude? She’d done nothing.
Gavin turned back and gave Amy a blank stare. “I cannot give out information like that.”
Amy looked around and checked for the oppressive feeling she’d noticed around Andy in the weeks before he’d died. The subtle depressive pressure wasn’t entirely gone, but certainly had faded. “Let me make a phone call.” The way the clerk eyed her discount winter coat made her self-conscious.
She stepped to the far side of the lobby and called Kiel, then looked back to Gavin. She didn’t trust him.
“Mr. Kiel,” she began when he answered, “there seems to be a problem with my hotel room. The receptionist says there’s no room with my name reserved.”
Kiel grunted in frustration. “Hang on, Miss Drabbs. I’m picking up another phone to straighten this out.”
Gavin’s phone rang a moment later. After giving his recited greeting he listened a moment, and Amy could hear Kiel’s muffled voice in her own device, along with an airport public address announcement.
“No, sir.” Gavin sat up straighter. “Sorry. There’s no room under that name.”
Kiel gave the clerk two more names, and both were denied. The third name was different.
Gavin tapped his computer keyboard. “Yes, sir. Victoria Howe was expected at seven, but hasn’t shown up yet. In another fifteen minutes I’ll have to give it to someone else.”
Kiel came back to Amy’s conversation for a brief update. “I figured someone would try to make you homeless. I had some of my people make other reservations so we could proceed with this lawsuit.”
Amy smiled. She knew something of the forces arrayed against her, but hadn’t anticipated this move. She was glad the lawyer had.
Gavin listened for a minute. “Then why didn’t she ask for the reservation for Victoria Howe?”
Amy heard Kiel explain. “I made the arrangements for her and forgot to tell her to use her Howe identity.”
“Understood, Mr. Kiel. I’ll give the room to Ms. Drabbs.” The clerk hung up.
Amy was pleased. She may be gentle as a dove, but Kiel was wise as a serpent. Between the two of them they were covering all their bases.
Something told Amy to sign her own name instead of using the Victoria identity. Usually when she had a feeling of that sort it was wise to go along with it.
After neatly tracing out her signature, Amy collected her plant and the key to room 313. She’d have to climb a couple of flights with her luggage, but at least she had a place to stay.
She smiled a bit. Maybe things would be better now.
From across the cold parking lot Ruax listened to the windows of the hotel lobby vibrate. He could make out just enough detail to follow the conversation, but not enough to hear the lawyer. He’d move closer but knew Guttersnipe could perceive his presence.
Why would she use the beagle’s last name to stay in a hotel? Perhaps he should check with Chamos.
Then he heard a report of displaced air filling the vacuum left by a vanishing Brother.
Pop was on his way.
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