THe Grand Sicily - Ren Bromily
Hotel & Broken Clock
All things considered; the lobby of The Grand Sicily Hotel is in pretty good shape. Sure, there are empty beer bottles on the floor, and someone has graffitied the front of the reception desk with what looks to be a large duck on a skateboard, but that is what happens when a building is suddenly abandoned and becomes the perfect place for teenagers to party. I take a moment to look around and marvel at the Art Deco stylings of the lobby before gathering my team together.
“Okay everyone! You all have your assignments. Be quick but be thorough. And we need to be out of here by 6 a.m. tomorrow.” The sea of nodding heads tells me my team knows what to do.
I hate myself for doing this job. I washed out at the big architecture firm that hired me after college and ended up treasure hunting for large corporations who want to feel better about destroying historical buildings so another Starbucks or Parking Garage can take its place. It is my job to find anything “cool” and “historic” that these corporations can put on display in their large downtown offices.
The Grand Sicily Hotel is the reason that I wanted to become an architect in the first place. Wanting to recreate the beauty of historic buildings was the reason I couldn’t cut it in the big leagues. I hold back the tears that I can feel forming and take comfort in the fact that during her last day, The Grand Sicily will be filled with people again. I can’t save her from being torn down, but I can give her this.
When she was built in 1925, The Grand Sicily Hotel was the luxury destination for the rich and famous. It was even rumored that Al Capone was a regular visitor. After struggling to stay afloat during the Depression, The Grand Sicily found its footing once more during World War II. From dances to weddings, The Grand Sicily was the place for soldiers to spend their time before shipping out. My grandparents met at a dance in the grand ballroom and were married in the same ballroom two weeks later with ten other couples the day before my grandfather left for Europe.
As if on auto-piolet, my feet take me in the direction of the ballroom. Dust has caked the parquet dance floor, but it is the same room I spent years studying through my grandparent’s wedding photo.
Tick, Tick, Tick.
“What the hell?” I follow the sound of ticking through the back of ballroom to the stage. The sound gets louder and louder. “How is there a clock still ticking after sixty years?”
The demise of The Grand Sicily came swift and tragic. In November 1962 the body of up-and-coming Hollywood star Patty Harrison was found in one of the elevators. The coroner at the time was unable to determine a cause of death, and the country became fascinated with the story of her death. She had been found wearing head to toe red. From her pill box hat to the kitten heels on her feet, it was all a garish shade of red. Soon, people forgot who Patty Harrison was, and she was simply called “The Lady in Red”. The weirdest part of the story was that she wasn’t even a registered guest at the hotel. According to her manager, he had seen her the afternoon of her death in Hollywood. Not long after her death, guests at the hotel started claiming strange things were happening to them. With her reputation ruined, The Grand Sicily closed its doors for good not long after Patty’s death.
As I approach the green room behind the stage, the ticking becomes almost unbearably loud.
“Jamal, this isn’t funny. We have tons of work to do.” I open the door, expecting my assistant to be behind the door playing one of his pranks on me. Instead, I am greeted by the most gorgeous clock I have ever seen. There is a large golden inverted triangle surrounded by four smaller inverted triangles. The large black hands are stuck, but there is no doubt that this is the source of the ticking sound. As I approach the clock, I notice that there is a long crack that runs the length of the clock. My heart aches with the knowledge that this clock will end up in a junk pile just because of one small imperfection. I know immediately that I will add this beauty to my personal menagerie of oddities. As soon as my hands close around the cold metal the world goes black.
When I come to, the first thing I notice is the plush carpet I am laying on. What the hell happened to me, and where am I? Someone must have found me in the green room and brought me to wherever I am now. I glance at my wrist to get an idea of how long I have been out, but instead of my apple watch, I am wearing red gloves that reach my elbows. Panicking, I glance around the room, only to realize that I am not in a room, but rather an elevator.
On shaky feet, I stand and look in the mirrored walls. My jeans and Rolling Stones t-shirt are gone, and in their place is a red cocktail dress, red kitten heels, and on my head a red pill box hat. Suddenly I notice a man in standing in the corner of the elevator.
“What the hell is going on,” I turn on my heels to face the man.
He looks at me with a devilish grin, putting his hands in the pockets of the long trench coat he is wearing.
“Darling, I’ve been waiting for you for a very long time. I thought you would never come back to me.”
His devilish grin turns to something sinister as my world goes dark again my screams filling the elevator.