At first glance, the hotel room was as I left it. The fake plant and the cheap alarm clock on the nightstand, the few t-shirts I owned hung in the doorless closet, and on the desk is the battered suitcase filled with the majority of my worldly belongings. A suitcase full of newspapers and knifes. Full of my past and my present. Then I realize that something is off. Something inside me tells me that this was a mystery. My heartbeat quickens.
Someone had been killed here. Something compelled me to walk over to the trashcan. It was knocked over – had I spilled it? Was it like that when I walked in? I couldn’t remember. Something catches my eye. A scrap of paper with some writing on it. A clue? I look at the paper. There are words on it. I stare at them. The harder I focus, the more out of focus the words became. But I know that it was a clue, so I stare at it for a few seconds, or perhaps for a few hours? Something tells me that it tells me something. I drop it and walk over to the bathroom. It smells like…bleach? The shower curtain is missing.
I go and sit on the bed. I can feel thoughts racing through my head, but they are camouflaged. I can’t see what they are. I used to be able to solve mysteries on a conscious level. Now it’s done through implicit memory, automatic, happening in the background. I lie back on the bed, and fall into a deep sleep.
It is dark when I wake up. I look at the clock. It’s blinking. 12:00. 12:00. 12:00.
How long had it been broken? 12:00. Did I break it? 12:00. I get up and pull on a pair of jeans, the same pair that I had worn earlier – my only pair in fact. 12:00. They don’t get washed much, but blood doesn’t really wash out that well anyway. 12:00. I walk over to my suitcase. 12:00. I open it and pull out a knife. 12:00. One of the bigger ones, with a six-inch blade. 12:00. Why am I grabbing a knife? 12:00. I realize that I know who was killed in my room. 12:00. A woman named Trudy.
I walk out of my room, down the stairs, and into the lobby. I sit in one of the almost-comfortable chairs. I’m waiting. The killer will be here. I know this in the same way I know which way is up and which way is down. I can feel it.
I think hard, trying to figure out how I figured it out. My mind resists me, but I push on.
The shower curtain was missing (I noticed that the first time) and so was the ugly bathroom rug and my pillow had been moved and the straight razor that I use to shave and left on the bathroom counter wasn’t there (it wasn’t?) and-it-smelled-like-bleach-of-course-and-there-were-only-three-towels-on-the-rack, butthereshould’vebeenmoreand-
After that, my thoughts start to move too fast for me to understand. Images flicker through my head, a poorly-edited montage at ten times the speed and half the fidelity. A body wrapped in a shower curtain, a bearded man wiping up blood from the tiled floor of the bathroom, a lover’s spat.
I pull myself from the depths of the shallows of my subconscious. My mind clears. I know enough.
I wait for the bearded man.