Inside the lobby was an enhanced darkness ... suffocating, like moving between laundry lines hung with musty wool blankets. The tile floor was slick with something that a was glad I couldn't see.
Harleigh flicked his bic. The lighter sputtered anemically -- on the third try the flame hissed to life lighting up the immediate area between Harleigh and me at chest level. I got a whiff of 'Old Spice', my father's brother Ralph came to mind.
Harleigh was of average height, a good looking kid, twenty something, His hair, was cut 'high and tight' former military, maybe. The rock hard arm, which held the lighter, belonged to a power lifter.
"Trig right?" he said, switching the bic to his left hand. We shook. Harleigh's hand, like Ric's was cold and his grip; bone crushing. Three shakes, manly, but not too familiar.
"Yup, Trig Mixter." I said.
Ric's lighter shot a six inch flame into the darkness on the far side of the room. "Zippo!" he explained, "Lights first time, every time." Dialing down his hand held flame thrower Ric held the blue light over his head illuminating the far end of the lobby. Thread bare sofas lined both walls, separated by footed urns containing dead parlor palms. "This place must of been real nice back in the day", I said. Soggy oriental carpet squished underfoot as we headed toward Ric and the Zippo.
On the back wall were two carbon-copy doors, the fancy kind with raised panels. Each identical door had panic hardware and an unlit exit sign above it.
"The lady or the tiger, gentlemen?" Said Ric. His fedora hid his eyes but his smile was slightly unsettling. "Which door will it be?"
"The right one." Harleigh said confidently. I was sure he was unaware of the reference." What do you think Trig ? "
"The lady" I said, "definately the lady".
|"Dial 'L' for Lounge" Chapter 3|