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“You don't scare me, you don't scare me," I said
To whatever it was floating in the air above my bed
He knew that I'd understand
He was the ghost of a Texas ladies' man.”
Ghost of Texas Ladies’ Man – Concrete Blonde
The check-in desk was polished and immense. One clerk worked at this unholy hour. I signed my name, collected the key, and declined help with my bags. The elevator worked slowly, creeping skyward at a snail’s pace. I had a business conference in less than seven hours and was hoping for a bath before bed.
The penthouse suite was an upgraded offering to my executive suite. Seems that a conference was in town at the same time. The hotel’d accidentally booked my rooms. I acquiesced to the top-floor accommodation eagerly.
Everything seemed normal until I slipped into the bath. Though the water was steamy, the room grew cold to the point I could see my breath.
“It’s a good thing those bubbles are covering up that heavenly body,” a voice said from nowhere and everywhere at the same time, “I’d have trouble asking you out otherwise.”
“Who’s there?” I asked, sinking lower into my bath, up to my eyes. I had mace; it was unfortunately in my suitcase and therefore might as well been in the next state.
“It’s been awhile,” the voice said, yawning gently. “I can’t imagine what took you so long to get here.”
“Who are you?” I cried again. “Where are you?”
“Pardon me ma’am,” the voice drawled, “I’m just haunting this suite for eternity is all.”
“Haunt?” The hotel brochure featured a 24-hour gym and available massage, not an ectoplasmic roommate for every suite rented. Especially one with a Texas drawl. I wanted to stand, but if he was looking…
“Could you look away then?”
“I could, but why would I want to? You’re the choicest woman I’ve seen in years.”
Unbidden, a smile threatened my lips. “Really?”
“Scout’s honor ma’am.”
“You’re obviously a ghost of good taste.”
A good-natured chuckle. “As long as we’re on the subject of taste—”
“What about taste? I’m not giving you anything.” I said as defiantly as I could, to the voice that was probably completely in my head as a result of two hours’ sleep in the past three days. That was it. It was all a hallucination. I might even be still asleep on the plane.
“I was wondering if you could play a Hank Williams record.”
“Oh. I don’t have any Hank Williams.”
“Have room service send you up a record then.”
“We haven’t met properly,” I faltered, “I’m Jessica.”
“Benjamin ma’am. About that record.”
“I have something better. But you have to promise not to look at me while I set it up.”
He promised, and so I stood, snatched a towel from the stack next to the tub, wrapped it around me, and went straight to my bag. My iHome was one of my favorite gadgets aside from my iPhone. I plugged in the speaker dock, set my phone in the cradle and tapped the iTunes app.
“Any particular song?”
“Ladies’ choice,” was the disembodied answer. I made my selection.
“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” poured out of the tiny speakers. At first I heard nothing, until there was a sniffle. Then my ghastly guest started blubbering.
“That’s what I wanted to hear,” he said. “It was playing while I drank myself to death. And once you hear a song, it gets stuck in your head and keeps you awake.”
“So I’ve heard,” I said, with an exaggerated yawn. “Anything else before I go to sleep? You’ll need to leave the bedroom you know.”
“I wouldn’t dream of disturbing your sleep ma’am.”
I bought all of the albums I could find of Hank Williams on iTunes. And plugged the iHome in out in the kitchen.