The ever-charming Mrs. Templeton, the unofficial hostess for the Mallory Arms and the official caretaker of the lobby plants, was in a frantic state when I walked through the doors. "Mr. MacKenzie, thank God you're here. The new gentleman in Room 105 has been in his room screaming, acting out of his mind all afternoon."
"Now settle down. Let me check." I set my bag on the large oak counter that served as the hotel desk when the Mallory had been a hotel back in days long gone. I pulled out my badge, walked down past Room 101, Mrs. Templeton's home for over thirty-five years, then past 103, the little Greek couple who looked like they just walked off the boat from the old country, and then to Room 105, where I found that Mrs. Templeton was on the button as to the extent of the goings on. The newcomer was still screaming bloody murder about bugs crawling all over him.
I knocked. No answer. I pounded. No answer. I shook the door and hollered. Still the screaming continued.
I returned to the lobby. "Mrs. Templeton, is the superintendent around?"
"No, Gordie's 's been away all day visiting his aunt and uncle."
Translated that meant that Gordie, our half-wit building super, had snuck off to play the ponies. "Well, Mrs. Templeton, I may need to use the pass key that nobody knows you have." From out of her bra, the old lady retrieved the contraband key, attached to all things a rabbit's foot.
I motioned for her to stay back. One more hard knock for procedure's sake, then I unlocked the door, holding tight the porcelain doorknob. I eased myself inside and there he was, a young man in his thirties, sitting in a kitchen chair, naked down to his boxers, a tower of Ballantine beer cans stacked on the table with one more in his right hand, with a small caliber pistol dangling in his left hand.
My entrance just barely merited a glance from the fellow. My badge had little effect. I eased my hand to my holster tucked into the small of my back.
"Good afternoon, sir. Everything alright with you."
He gave me a drowsy eyed look that drunks give just before they pass out. He took one big breath, offered me a silly smile, dropped the gun, managed to get to his feet, staggered over to me and gave me a sloppy hug and kiss.
I kept the 22 pistol, called the paddy wagon, and we gave a free night's lodging in the drunk tank at the downtown jail.
His name turned out to be Sammy Townsend, a decent enough fellow who would go on a drinking binge every year on the anniversary of his wife leaving him for his one-time neighbor, Terry the plumber or s*nufab*tch. Sammy used both names interchangeably. Outside of that, he was a good man and he'd live there for another six years. Then he moved away one night, leaving his stuff behind. We think he joined up with the Ringling Brothers Circus that happened to be in town that week. but we were never sure. The Salvation Army truck came by and hauled Sammy's stuff away. Mrs. Templeton was still there and she supervised the emptying of his room.