Thursday, November 01, 2007


The Mansion

The brand-new ultra-luxe hotel was the talk of the town.

The finest architects had taken a doddering old funeral home adjoining the city’s largest greenspace and used it as the nucleus around which they built a magnificent, modern structure. It resembled nothing so much as a turreted castle surfaced in red brick. It was stunning.

What the architects did not know was that, beneath the old funeral home, there had previously been an Indian Burial Ground. It appeared on none of the old plats, yet the hundred-odd inhabitants of Gupta Hill nevertheless were there, sleeping their forever sleep under the sod.

The hotel opened in June and was immediately filled to capacity by the wealthy, the curious, and the well-connected. Butlers tucked the guests into their beds at night and attended to their every need during the waking day. At the restaurant, costly vintages flowed in rivers and hand-massaged beeves fell by the trainload.

The months passed.

Everything was fine until the wee hours of Hallowe’en night, as All-Saint’s Eve gave way to All Saint’s Day, November 1. El Día de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead.

That night, mysterious howls echoed up and down the corridors.

In Room 375, a toilet backed up and overflowed.

A movie producer from West Hollywood, in town attending the local Art School’s annual Film Festival, found a chunk of gristle in his late-night room service filet mignon.

An elderly matron, upon retiring for the night, picked up one of the chocolates that had been left on her pillow by the housekeeping staff and popped it in her mouth. Almost immediately, she spat it out, eyes wide in horror. “Mint,” she grumbled. “I hate mint.”

And a young couple from Mexico City returned to their fourth-floor suite to see a barely-visible phantasm sitting on their sofa, watching “Saturday Night Live” on the TV. They knew what night this was. With quavering voices, they asked their Eldritch Visitor whether he was doomed to walk the earth in limbo, forever trapped in that zone of nothingness between Heaven and Hell. Was the hotel cursed?

“Naw,” replied the ghost. “I was just curious. I always wondered what kind of asshole would spend eight bucks on a fucking bottle of water.”

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