Last Night In 'Cisco
I woke realising something wasnít right. Although my eyes hadnít opened, my bodyís innate senses had already made that conclusion during the half hour or so that I lay in bed struggling to lift my eyelids.
I tried to think about the previous night but a haze covering my mind successfully misted out any recollection of the evening. I knew that I must have slept out; The smell of the sheets wasnít my own and the flimsy cover that draped over my chest was too light for the duvet on my apartments king size bed. My nostrils picked out another smell that wasnít mine; a woman. Struggling for prominence through an unpleasant odour that I was only vaguely familiar with, was the sweet smell of perfume; Isabella Rosselliniís Manifesto if my receptors were working correctly. Although it was my favourite scent, I hadnít smelt it this close since my wife passed away.
My right hand slowly felt outward and comforting as it was to know that unlike my eyelids, my body had full control over my hands, it was unnerving that my tactile senses also concluded that something was untoward. I quickly found the edge of the bed, which isnít unusual; my late wife would have testified that Iím a pathological edge hugger as I need to feel the edge of the duvet and mattress with my limbs. However, I was lying on my back, something must have knocked me out last night. I never sleep on the right side of a bed, I simply cannot sleep unless I am hugging the left edge. The haze in my head started making sense.
Hot on the heals of the successful control over my body, I attempted to open my eyes. One eyelid raised a fraction only to find that the vapour in my mind was nothing compared to the fog in front of me. I couldnít focus as I fought an automatic response to close my eyes. I could see some light, suggesting it was day, for some reason I automatically concluded that it was natural and not artificial. It seemed a little muted so I guessed it was early morning being filtered through a thin set of curtains and not mid day being obscured by a very thick set. My eyelids won the battle, and closed.
My left hand attempted a sortie to the other side of the bed and unexpectedly touched bare skin. I wasnít surprised that I would have been lucky enough to score, even though I could be sure that I hadnít been looking for a date. Not even surprised that my evening prize should have been wearing my favourite scent, even though I tended to give it a wide birth out of respect to my late wife. I was surprised that the woman was clearly dead.
I gained control of my eyes and during a momentary respite from their focusing issues, gazed round the room only to discover that I appeared to be in a hotel that looked strangely familiar and strangely American. What was I doing in an American hotel when my last firm recollection was a pub in central London? I took a moment and considered the room in more detail as I raided my memory banks for any clues. It seemed that I was in a Marriot Hotel, which explained the familiarity; I have stayed in a few in my time, however this was no ordinary Marriot, but the one in Downtown San Francisco on Fourth Street. It was also no ordinary room, but my favourite corner suite on the 37th floor.
I noticed my clothes strewn across the room. They lay in patterns familiar with a hurried undress pursuant to jumping in the sack, however I have never in my life undressed in such a manner; neat and tidy to the end. An open packet of condoms had escaped from my trousers as they had fallen to the floor, wrong brand.
I decided to take stock and analyse the little information that I had learnt since my rather groggy waking this morning. I was in my favourite room, in my favourite hotel, in downtown San Francisco. I was in bed with a dead woman wearing my favourite scent. My clothes were scattered with an indication of condom use, both suggesting sex. I had no recollection of the previous evening or indeed, what I was doing in San Francisco.
The mugginess in my head was nothing to do with a hangover, although I had noticed a half filled glass of Margarita. The rim of the glass looked salted and the contents would have been frozen. My drink of choice. No, I suspected that my bodyís inability to work correctly was due to drugs. Despite my inability to recall anything, I must have previously expected something as my mouth had the bitter taste of a blocker; a pill taken as an attempt to counteract any of the usual drugs given to knock someone out cold. The taste meant that I hadnít drunk any of that Margarita and that the drug couldnít have been given to me orally.
The blocker cannot always successfully counteract, much depends on the type and dose administered. However, in this case, I suspected that it had allowed me to wake and gain control over my body earlier than intended.
Someone wanted me to think that I had spent the night with the dead woman, going to great lengths to make it look, maybe to others, as if I had. However, this person didnít know me quite as well as they thought, or they wouldnít have tripped up on my idiosyncrasies.
My feeling was that despite my situation looking suspect, I had the upper hand. Anyone in my situation would probably panic. They would either, get up, get dressed, and leave in a hurry, or phone the police. There was doubtless enough evidence linking me to the murder of the unfortunate woman, therefore both courses of action would ultimately mean arrest.
If the people setting me up knew me half as much as they thought they did, they would have known that I would calmly consider my options before setting about removing all the evidence that could convict me of murder. There were probably enough eyewitness accounts placing me with the woman, however that wouldnít be enough. So, there must be a trap ready to be sprung.
I looked around the room and noticed an alarm clock showing 6:10 and set for 8:30am. I had probably been awake since about 5:00. Iím sure that without the blocker, the intention was for the drugs to have worn off enough by the time the alarm triggered, allowing it to wake me and give me an hour or so to dress and remove all the evidence. Someone intended to enter the room and catch me in the act at about nine.
As I said, I had the upper hand. I decided to get up and systematically remove the evidence. If I chose to I could leave the hotel before the 9am visit. However I would probably be captured departing the room by surveillance cameras and would have some tough questions to answer on why I was fleeing the scene of a crime. I could phone the cops, but something just irked me about that option, something not immediately obvious.
No, the only option was to open the door, turn off the alarm, and go back to sleep to be woken by the 9am visitor. They wouldnít have expected that.