tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 123: mortimer of mars
by horace p sternwall
illustrated by danny delacroix and eddie el greco
editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo
mortimer peeked around the corner from behind a potted plant and watched as stan crossed the lobby to the front door. it looked like roland was asleep on his feet - as he often was - but mortimer knew that roland had not lasted as night clerk as long as he had without the ability to wake up at the slightest movement of anything within twelve feet of him.
and sure enough, just as stan passed him roland turned and said something to him. probably just something like "good evening, sir" because stan kept on going out the door and roland went back to staring straight ahead across the deserted lobby.
so stan was away safe, in his "disguise", at least for now.
what time was it, anyway? mortimer looked up at the clock on the wall to his right. three thirty-three. jeez, was it that late?
only twenty-seven more minutes and his his shift would be over. that's if jackson showed up on time, as he did not always do.
there were four elevator operators at the st crispian. two of them, jackson and grobbs, worked forty hours each, mortimer worked five fourteen hour shifts from two in the afternoon to four in the morning, and old julius still came in and did about twenty hours a week. mortimer often filled in for the others, and one of the bellhops or desk clerks would fill in if they had to.
it had been kind of an exciting night, as nights went at the venerable hotel st crispian, with stan coming back and all. and jake disappearing for a while, and flossie flanagan from the federal-democrat showing up … time went by when there was excitement in the air, that was for darn sure.
he never did get that key to room 603 to miss wilde, what with miss flanagan showing up. but stan was gone, so everything must be o k. now he just had to tell miss wilde that stan had gone to the automat...
mortimer eased himself back on to his stool and yawned. i should be able to stay awake for about twenty-five minutes, he told himself…
stan laughed. "stop looking back at the ship," he told mortimer.
but mortimer looked back, across the diamond-twinkling red sands of mars.