Guest rooms were always hiding things. No one starts out wanting a guest room. It’s usually an office first, but then you got fired and can’t look at it anymore, so you throw a bed in it that you’ll never sleep in. Sometimes it’s a kid’s room, but they’ve moved out into a college dorm room. It used to be storage but then the divorce happened leaving it depressingly empty. A studio for recording music but the bass player was in a car accident, and the band broke up.
Guest rooms are rarely ever intentional. It’s more of a ritual. Something society has deemed necessary. The presumption that someone wants to stay with you and your new husband.
The window sticks after an inch and they can’t get it up all the way. They unplug it after everyone is asleep, but the smell has been cloistered in the room for so long that it will never smell like anything else. They put the pillow on top of their face and try to sleep.
I stood in the doorway to this guest room without entering it. Untouched rooms give you answers. They offer secrets. This one had last been occupied by a dead girl, lying face down in a pool of blood.
I found out about the case through the police.
That never happened.
We didn’t get along.
“Yeah?” I barked into phone, a landline I had installed myself. Cell phones bothered me.
“Is this Alma?” It was Detective Herbert Ross. He knew it was me.
“What’d’ya want?” I said, trapping the phone between my ear and shoulder as I took a kettle of hot water off the stove and poured it in my favorite chipped mug with my favorite raspberry tea. If this was about the parking tickets I’d never paid, I still wasn’t going to pay them. If this was to call me in about the robbery I solved before them, I wasn’t going to tell them how I did it.