Friday, July 13, 2007

Deducing in Dallas

It was a dark and sultry night. Sweat slid down my back and pooled between my butt cheeks as I made the long trek down the humid hotel corridor. The chipotle chili with chunks of Texas beef the size of jawbreakers wasn't sitting well in my stomach, and I felt the need to run for the bathroom. But I fought the urge. I didn't want to draw attention to myself any more than I had already that day, and I knew if I did, I'd break my three-inch Payless Shoe Source heels and then everyone at the conference would see my bleeding blisters.

A small price to pay, really, for the illusion of the perfect writer. But then, that's what I am. A master of illusion.

My partner in crime, a brunette known for her love-affair with her cell phone, walked at my side, texting her latest conquest. Our other roommate, the one who likes to make snarky jokes, was waiting for us to come back to the room and change clothes so we could then head to the bar where she planned to hit on a cowboy she's spotted from the glass-enclosed elevator. (Research, she'd said, but we knew the truth). I, of course, couldn't make the sign of an "L" on my forehead fast enough, but in this case, I figured a drink was a drink, and after the day I'd had -schmoozing with editors and agents, embarrassing myself whenever possible and sitting through workshops until my ass fell asleep - I decided I deserved it.

Since the texting-girl was too busy, I whipped out my keycard and shoved it in the slot. The light flashed red. I cursed and turned the card around. The door made a strange sucking noise as it opened, and I reached back to scratch my butt as I hobbled into the room.

I knew something was amiss the second I stepped inside.

The lights were on. The room was silent. But the bathroom door, which was always closed, was open, and the exterior door to the room hit it with a thwack that echoed like prison doors slamming shut.

"Alice?" I asked cautiously.

No response.

"Alice?" Lisa called at my back, suddenly concerned as she snapped her cell phone closed.

Still nothing.

We stepped around the corner, careful not to disturb the scene - just in case, and because we'd learned not to in the toe tags and body bags workshop we'd just taken - and peered into the room. Then we both caught our breath.

The room was empty. Alice's pillow was dented, as if she'd recently been lying there. Her laptop sat on the sheets, closed, which seemed odd since she'd had it with her every moment of the trip. Her salmon-colored shirt was tossed to the side as if she'd ripped it off her body in a moment of haste. Her purse, shoes, jacket, workshop bag were all in their neat and orderly places while our clothes were strewn around the room like normal.

Lisa looked at me. I looked at her. And we both knew whatever had happened to our snarky friend could not be good.

A shiver ran down my spine, chilling the sweat between my cheeks. "Check the bathroom."

Lisa ran around the corner. Her feet skidded to a halt on the hard tiles, the sound echoing through the eerily quiet hotel room.

"The toilet seat is up!"

"Up?" I exclaimed, running to join her. Sure enough, the seat was up, as if - gasp! - a man had taken a leak in our room.

"Housekeeping?" Lisa asked, shooting me a worried look.

"At nine o'clock at night?" I replied. "Not likely."

Lisa glanced around, then pointed at the wall. "Look. The towels are missing."

"Towels missing," I said, trying to put it all together. "Toilet seat up. Alice gone. Her laptop here. Something doesn't add up." I glanced at Lisa. "We need to check the room again."

Now growing exceedingly worried, we made our way back into the bedroom and took a closer look at the scene. I barely noticed my toes were bloody, or that my skirt was now stuck to the frozen sweat between my cheeks. Clues we'd missed before began to pop into our line of sight.

"Did you buy this five dollar bottle of Evian?" Lisa asked.

"Are you nuts? I wouldn't pay five dollars for water."

"Neither would I," Lisa said.

"Neither would Alice," I deduced.

Lisa's eyes grew even wider. I wanted to smack her and tell her to quit doing that tricky eye thing, but I knew that wouldn't help Alice. Stifling the urge, I glanced around the room one more time and focused on the problem at hand.

And that's when I saw it.

"What is that?" I asked.

Lisa took a cautious step forward. The color drained from her face.

"It's a phone book. And . . . and . . ." Her mouth fell open.

"What?" I exclaimed.

"It's open to this!"

(Put your crime scene hats on and help us figure out what happened to our roommate. While we enjoy having the beds to ourselves, we're starting to worry - and frankly, we don't want to be stuck with the hotel bill. So put your theories in the comments and we'll let you know if you were right. If, that is, we find her.)


Karen Duvall said...

Oh. My. God. Eli, you are too funny! That was great! I won't be able to sleep now tonight while I worry about Alice. Loved the pictures. Great suspense writing! You have me hooked. I'll be lying awake all night, so I better see the solution to this crime by morning!

Nice job, Eli and Lisa. You guys rock! 8^)

Anonymous said...

Alice recieved a call from her agent with a multi movie/ tv series merchandizing deal..with a six figure advance. You, her devoted roomies were not present to share her joy. What to do? In a frenzy, Alice pulled out the yellow pages and called for an escort service. When the escort arrived and thoughtfully assisted Alice with the romoval of her shirt in order to put on her party dress, he noticed her strange texas shaped birth mark on her right shoulder. "Hey! I have birth mark just like that on my right hip" the escort exclaimed. Alice knew at once it was her secret baby..the one she'd been told died at birth. "Tommy, it's time you meet your father, the Sheik" Alice declared as she dragged Tommy out of the room...not even pausing to pick up her five dollar bottle of Evian.
If you notice, I think you'll find Alice marked the yellow pages under private planes. I suspect she and Tommmy are airborne on their way to the small country of Arnodrasia where Tommy's Father is currently Sheik.

Alice has been pretty busy!

Genene said...

Geez, Eli, maybe you should screen those workshops a little better before you sit through the entire thing! LOL!

Let us know when Alice and the sheik return with not-so-little Tommy. (Love that scenario!) And hope your bleeding blisters are better.

wavybrains said...

This is great! I don't know where Alice could be (mechanical bull riding? line dancing? all-you-can-eat ribs?), but I'm betting she's going to ROAST you and Lisa, and that I can't wait to see :) Perhaps Alice is the victim of hit-and-run Texas hospitality--she fell into a 20 gallon hat and can't wake up?

Paty Jager said...

Alice obviously went to dinner with some hunky Dallas millionaire who loves her books and knows she's just like her spunky heroines!

I'm sure she'll show up smiling! That is until she gets a hold of you two, THEN we will have a real murder mystery! LOL

Piper Lee said...


This looks very suspicious to me. I deduct that Alice is the victim of two hooligan roommates who have set her up. I also deduce that said roommates have waaaay to much time on their hands and should be paying more attention to their workshops instead of looking through the Dallas Yellow Pages for escorts!

You two are soooo naughty! Poor Alice. Why she tortures herself with the likes of you girls is beyond me. LOL

Glad you're all having so much fun and look forward to learning something that's actually useful from Alice on Tuesday, since we all know that neither Lisa or Eli have learned anything but how to be pain-in-the-ass roommates. ;)

Remind me to get my own room when Nationals is in San Fransisco! LOL

Danita Cahill said...

Poor Alice, the cowboy must have seen her glancing longingly at him through the glass elevator, but when he saw the light glint off her diamond wedding set, he knew he couldn't have her.

Not easily.

He followed her to her room, and shoved his way through the door when she whisked her entry key.

"What are you doing?" Alice asked. "Who are you?"

The cowboy gave her a smile as big as the great outdoors. "I brought you a gift," he said, handing her a bottle of expensive water. "I'm your dream come true."

Alice, temporarily overcome with the heady fragrance of the cowboy's male musk, knew she should scream for help. She grabbed the Evian from his calloused hand, noticing the cap opened easily.

Too easily.

She took a swig anyway. She had to moisten her parched vocal cords so she could yell for help.

She swallowed. The water slid down her throat. The date rape drug took effect almost immediately. Her vision doubled, blurred. Her knees buckled.

The cowboy caught her before she hit the floor. Gently, he set her on the bed. He had to pee something fierce. He dashed to the bathroom, lifted the toilet seat and relieved himself.

He rushed back to the bed, plucked Alice up into his strong arms and carried her away.


When Alice awoke, her mouth felt like the inside of a Christmas sock, her head throbbed like the morning after a box of wine, and something was tickling her nose. She reached up a hand with an arm heavy as cement to rub the grogginess from her eyes. Her fingers bumped something plastic. Her hand dropped to her nose and a feeling of panic gripped her insides as she realized something was over her face. Her eyes flew open.

Sitting across the room, holding a vanity mirror with one hand and making the shape of an "L" on her forehead with the other, was Eli. She was laughing her ass off. Behind her, Lisa glanced up from her pink cell phone. She too burst into convulsions of laughter.

"What...what happened?" Alice asked, shaking her head to clear her foggy vision and hangover. It was then that she noticed the cowboy stranger sitting beside Lisa.

"Take a look for yourself," Eli said, tears of laughter rolling down both cheeks. She held the mirror to Alice's face.

Tentatively, Alice peeked in the looking glass. Perched on her face was a set of Groucho Marx eyeglasses, complete with large plasic nose and mustache. "I'm so going to get you for this..."

Alice whipped the fake disguise off her face and pointed to the hot cowboy. "Who is he?"

"His name's Hank," Eli said. "We found him in the phone book under escort services. We had him stride past the elevator and shake his little Wrangler butt for you, then drug you and take you from our room."

"But, why?" Alice asked.

"We thought it would make a great blog post," Eli answered with a grin.

Piper Lee said...

Oh Danita, that was good...

Eli and Lisa are in sooooo much trouble. rofl

Alice Sharpe said...

What happens in Dallas, stays in Dallas.


Danita Cahill said...


I only have one thing to say to that....


Elisabeth Naughton said...

Hee hee hee. Y'all will rethink the adjoining room thing in San Fran. after the meeting tomorrow.

In our defense...Alice ditched us for the Harlequin party. What else could we do?????

And, Alice, dear, I still want to know what's in the box. ;)

Alice Sharpe said...

Eli--Only you know what's in the box. Ask your essence....