Nightmare on Vine Street
Burdick Hotel Manager
Walter has been the front man for the Burdick Hotel for a long time. He keeps the place clean, the bellboy on his toes, the maids in good form, and the cook in line. He has not always been a grumpy old man, but a recent streak of unexplainable events centering around that corner of the hotel have (understandably) made him so.
“Whaddya mean, haunted? Horsefeathers. Load of baloney.
… Are you still here? Fine. But don’t go thinkin’ I’m ossified, hear? I aim to level with ya, so don’t go alert the presses. People’ll think I lost my marbles. This swell comes in here, real dignified, name of Elmer Alexander— I checked him into room 104. Over on the corner there, right beside the restaurant. He’s supposed to be here three nights, he says, in from out of town on business. He hasn’t been settled in an hour when he storms in, mad as a hornet and all balled up. Says somethin’s wrong with his cheaters— sure ‘nough, the lenses were black with soot. Now I asked him if he’d done somethin’ he shouldn’ta, didn’t lean over the lamp or anything, and he says no.
He went back to 104, still yammerin’ on about his lenses. He came back later in the evening, all shook up. ’What’s it now,’ I says— and he says his room is hot as blazes, ’can’tcha turn off the radiator?’ and I says ‘I never turned it on, Mr. Alexander, it’s the middle of the summer’. So I went over to 104, but it was just fine. Same temperature as the hallway. ’That’s funny,’ says Alexander. I’m startin’ to think he’s blown a gasket, but he’s not done.
The next morning, he comes down to the desk after breakfast. Says he’s checkin’ out. ‘Why Mr. Alexander’, I says, ‘what for?’ He drags his big ol’ steamer trunk down to the desk and opens it up. And when he holds up somethin’ from inside— I think it was a shirt— I can see why. I can smell the smoke from behind the desk. ‘Mr. Alexander,’ I says, ‘room 104 is a non-smoking room.’ ‘I know’, he says, ‘I don’t smoke. But nothin’ else in the room smells like that.’
I convinced him to stay— Lord knows how. But that evenin’ is what did it, y’know. ‘Bout ten o’clock— no, more like ten thirty— he comes runnin’ down past the desk, trunk in hand. ’I’m leavin’ this time,’ he says. ’There’s a man with a pair of eyes like embers, sittin’ on the end of the bed.’
I’d say Elmer Alexander was crazy… but that wasn’t the first time I’ve heard that from somebody in 104. Before last time it was somebody in the kitchen, time ‘fore that it was in the dining room. But 104 seems to be where it’s worst."
—Walter Hodges, proprietor of the Burdick Hotel