I have never dismissed anything, no matter how absurd, without examining all of the evidence. I believe that all stories have an element of truth somewhere. That list includes Big Foot, the numerous lake monsters, the Bermuda Triangle, and Santa Claus. ( I never did buy into the Easter Bunny thing.) I try to keep an open mind because life has many unexplained elements. After all, we once thought the world was flat. So, who I am to judge until all of the evidence is shown?
One of my most endearing guests was someone named Henry. Henry was not your average tourist. Henry was not your standard business guest, nor did he check in for a one-hour tryst in the bed with his lover. No, Henry stayed there because he wanted something. Just what he wanted caused many hours of speculation among the staff. After all, Henry came when he wanted to. He stayed in whatever room he wanted, and he never did pay for his room. Oh, he was a very clean guest. He never messed up his room. I never had to call the cops because he disturbed the peace, and he never smoked in a non-smoking room. You might even say that you never even knew that he was there. As a matter of fact, we never actually saw Henry, but we always knew when he was there. Let me give you a little background.
It was the early eighties, about 1981 I think. I had just moved to Spokane from Las Vegas where I was one of the managers in a large hotel and casino. Jobs were very scarce in Spokane in the hotel world at that time, and I needed a temporary gig to fill the gap. I had grown quite fond of eating, so I needed the money. The only job that I could find was a night audit job in this small motel on Sprague Avenue. The job description included the usual checking in of guests, doing the books at night, and helping with the laundry. The laundry room set straight back of the front desk and lobby area, so it was easy.
Oh, by the way, did I mention that this motel was a XXX motel? They were the rage back in the early eighties. Guests would check in for an hour, four hours, or all night. The room included piped in XXX movies, which I would monitor and feed new ones in when one ended. This was a very easy gig. Easy except for one thing, Henry.
I was told about Henry from the very beginning, but I took it with the proverbial grain of salt. I did not really believe in ghosts, but I did not dismiss the possibility, either. Henry was rumored to come every night about two A.M. and do some very strange things. He was reputed to live in the old apartment above the lobby, and that he would come down the stairs, into the laundry room, and then into the lobby. Sure, I thought, I didn't really buy into it. After all, I was from Wallace, and I was not scared of anything. Let Henry come. I could handle him.
Henry was so named because the theory was that Henry was the original owner of the motel, and he had died in the very apartment above the lobby. It was everyone's guess that Henry did not like the fact that his once family oriented motel was now given over to XXX movies and one-hour guests. Who knows, and I did not really care. I didn't even believe that he existed.
Well, it was time for my first shift, and I was ready to begin my new career in the shady world of adult motels. I arrived for my shift and was introduced to Lady. Lady was a black Lab whom the staff had adopted when she was left behind several years earlier by some guest. I liked having the company and someone to talk to during the wee hours of the morning.
The first night began just like the many other nights I had in bigger and much finer hotels. No problems. I checked in a few guests, changed the movies as needed, and started on the books, I glanced at the large clock in the lobby. It was 2:15. So much for Henry, I thought. I was about to doze off for a quick nap when it started. Were those drawers opening and closing in the vacant apartment above me? I glanced over at Lady and saw that she was at full attention, ears back, eyes staring straight ahead. It was then that I heard footsteps. No, it couldn't be. But, yes, there they were!Slowly- the clomp, clomp,clomp,they became more pronounced on the staircase leading to the laundry room. I heard the door open, squeaking,moving.By this time Lady's hair was standing straight up, a low, frightened growl coming from her mouth. Then, an icy chill came over me as a definite presence passed by me. It was like an arctic blast, the kind that leaves you shivering to your bones. Lifting up my eyes, scared to look, but more scared not to look, I saw quick flashed of light darting around the lobby like fireflies on a warm summer night in the Midwest. After about five minutes they stopped. The cold arctic blast once again passed me, and I heard footsteps ascending the staircase. It was over for the night.
Ok, get a hold of yourself, I thought, there must be a logical explanation for what I had just witnessed, or thought that I had witnessed. I finished my shift, and went home to sleep.Over?Nope, far from over, for the next night and the night after that brought the same thing, The drawers opening and closing. The clomp, clomp, clomp, of footsteps, the icy blast of frigid air, the darting lights around the lobby. I had enough. There was only one way to deal with Henry, and that was to meet him head on. So, when he was in the lobby that next night, I croaked out “I not am not afraid of you, leave me alone." Boy did that do the trick! The light stopped, the footsteps went back up the stairs, and all was calm. I was the man! I had Henry told. I was the champion.
Arriving at work the next night with a new swagger, I began my shift with total bravado. There would be no more Henry on my shift. Let the other idiots who worked there deal with him.
I looked at the lobby clock. No Henry. 2:15, no Henry. I looked smugly at Lady. And then, it started, the drawers opening and closing. Only this time they were banging loudly. The footsteps descending down the stairs, only this time they were much heavier. The door to the laundry room slammed open, I could feel the arctic blast even in the lobby emanating from the laundry room. And then, well I still get chills thinking about it. To my utter horror, the doors to the washer and dryer banged shut, and then they started running.
I screamed o ut"OK, OK, you win. You can have the whole place." I bolted for the lobby door, Lady was right behind me. We went out to the outdoor pool, and both of us comforted each other in our own ways, I petted Lady, and she whimpered softly.
The next night, I arrived at work, ready for anything to happen. Yes, I felt Henry, and hear him, but there seemed to be a new understanding between us, almost a friendship. Several weeks later I found a more appropriate position and went my way. I often wondered about Henry, because several years after I left, the old motel was razed for new construction. Several gleaming office building and new businesses now stand where the motel once was. Where do ghosts go when there building is gone?
Many years have now passed since I left Henry, but I felt compelled to write about him today. I hope that he has finally gone to his eternal resting place and is in peace.
Epilogue: Well, the strangest thing happened to my original post about Henry, after I had completed my first draft, it all vanished, and I had to start over. Him-no-maybe. Did Henry follow me all of these years? Hm-maybe he did not want the publicity.