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Sunday Night at the Floridian Hotel
In the corner stood a box. It was metal, painted green in the way of the Government-Issued items of fifty years ago. There had been some legible stencilling on the side and lid at one time. Now it was as indecipherable as runes. In a self-pubbed e-book, I'd stumble upon a key for the bulbous padlock which prevented access to the contents. I did not find any such thing. Not even within the elaborate lines of the bureau at the left hand side of the chest of drawers, which also contained nothing. They both looked as though they'd once been expensive. Maybe they'd been brought low just by being in that room.
I sat down on the bed. No springs and a foam mattress on a deal frame. The window looked out onto soot-stained brickwork. My phone showed no signal. The Floridian Hotel didn't have wi-fi. There was a radio in the headboard; I listened to ten minutes of country music and adver-preaching for the Church of the Sacred Bleeding Heart of Jesus the Nazerene and turned it off. I lay down. Up on the roof was a smoke alarm, so I lit up a Marlboro, just to see. Nothing happened, so I smoked it down to the filter tip and enjoyed every second.
The box in the corner still drew my eyes. What in hell was it doing there? Had the last occupant left in a hurry? I had nothing with me, not even a multi-tool. No point trying to carry on anything sharp with Delta. I'd driven the hire company's compact as though it was Jimmy Dean's Little Bastard and only stopped for fuel for me and the car. Besides, what would I need tools for? I was on vacation. In Florida, in the Glades in a town called Oakum. I'd just driven, using a mental coin toss at every T and Y on the road out of Miami. I'd stopped when it was dark and checked in to the Floridian. "$20 a night and no food, and no hotplates in the room neither, Mister, just sayin'."
It was a 3-storey building on Main Street, built from the same brick I could see out of my room window. The night clerk had been pierced more than a guy with so much dirt around his collar ought to risk. The elastoplast on his store-bought glasses was dirtier still.
'Ah don't got change, Mister.' He held tight to the hundred dollar bill I'd given him.
'I'll be staying a while, son.'
He gave me a tiny key with a wooden fob I could have used as a doorstop if I'd a mind to.
Over to you... what's in the box?
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