“He was my uncle,” I said.
Her voice softened slightly. “Oh. Oh, well then I’m sorry.” Her name was Debbie Nash. She was in her fifties, her well-rounded flesh squeezed into a maroon skirt and jacket set, the buttons straining across her midriff. Her small gray eyes sized me up, more interested now, but still disbelieving. “I thought you might be a reporter,” she added. Her tone betrayed that she still had doubts.
“He was my Mother’s brother,” I said. “I didn’t see him much - you know how it is. They fell out. Mum feels bad about it. And, they just won’t tell us anything – the police I mean.”
She was torn. The death of Edward Sennet was definitely not her favorite topic of conversation. This was her hotel and if she had any business sense at all she’d want to leave the past in the past and forget it had ever happened, hoping her customers would do the same. But, I was also a customer. It was the off-season and more than half her rooms were lying empty. She longed to be rude to me, I could see, but she couldn’t afford it. Her expression settled carefully into a blank indifference.
“Obviously I’m very sorry for your loss, but really Mr. Lyle I don’t know what I can say. Anything I can tell you, you must already know. I should have, I mean…I would have thought you’d want to put it behind you?” She shifted uncomfortably and glanced at her watch. “I’m sorry, but I…”
“The woman who found him?” I said. “Perhaps she…?”
“She’s gone,” her mouth tightened. “Resigned the week after and left me short-handed. Never even came in to return her uniform. I hope you enjoy your stay Mr. Lyle. There are maps and brochures in the lounge – there’s plenty to see in the town,” she told me, despite all the evidence to the contrary. “Please excuse me, I have to get on.”
She gave me a smile, a tight grimace accompanied by a hostile stare, and walked off, leaving me standing beside the hotel desk. There were some directories under the counter; a few of them, stacked next to the phone. I made sure no one was around then leaned across and appropriated the residential listings, ducking into the deserted lounge with it under my arm. There was no E. Gordon, but then there were only three entries for that surname listed in the town – not so many to check. I used the map, as suggested by Ms. Nash, to find the addresses. I felt better, having an object in mind.