My best friend and I decided to get away for a couple days as a birthday gift to each other. We thought the beach would be a relaxing place to get a room, knit, stare at the ocean, take walks, and catch up on Dr. Who.
Things don’t always go as planned.
We were supposed to check in to our hotel on Saturday. I had a family medical issue crop up, (nothing dangerous, just a routine procedure that the family member must go through every few years.) How long did this 1 hour procedure (plus 2 hours of driving) take? 7 hours.
So we lost most of our vacation Saturday to medical stuff. But that’s no problem. We had a room for Sunday and Monday too. My friend called the hotel and the manager said she’d leave a key under the mat for us, and we were all squared away to check in late.
We got there at 11:45 (at night) No key. We looked under every mat. No key. We called the manager. No one home. This little coastal town rolls up its sidewalks at 9:00. We drove around for an hour or more to find a hotel that was open. (Thank you night clerk at Surf Tides for calling around for us!) and finally checked in to a hotel that was not bad, but man…the decor! One room would have made Liberace say “that’s a bit much, isn’t it?”
I slept on a couch (while doing my best not to actually, you know, touch the couch) and in the morning we called the hotel again. The manager was surprised we weren’t in our rooms, and even more surprised the night clerk had forgotten to put out our key. The room was still available, and she comped us the day we hadn’t been there. So, that was good.
We settled in for a great couple days knitting, watching TV, staring at the ocean (and walking the beach) and basically trying to relax.
We probably should have noticed something was amiss when we saw the man standing naked (well, we saw him from the waist up, so maybe naked) in the window a couple rooms down from us, grinning out at the beach.
Tuesday morning we knew something was wrong. 9:21 a.m.. Frantic knocking on our door. The manager tells us in a rushed voice that it was an emergency evacuation and we needed to leave the premises immediately. My friend asked if it was a Tsunami or something else. The manager (who looked shaken and on the verge of tears) said she couldn’t say.
What I grab in an emergency evacuation: phone, netbook, purse, keys, shoes (no socks), coat. We left everything else behind, got in the car and debated driving east (upward from the beach and a possible Tsunami wave) or north toward Starbucks.
We chose Starbucks. (Note to self, in a zombie uprising, I’m getting a mocha before all else.)
We thought it could be a gas leak or fire. Waited an hour. Drove back to see the motel (but not too close) There were no emergency vehicles. So my friend called 911 and we were told there was a reason there were no emergency vehicles there, and the evacuation was still in effect.
We left. Walked the beach. Went to get a new cell phone battery since mine had decided…just that moment…to explode. Found ourselves in a cell phone and gun shop, buying a battery and car charger for our phones (we’d left the chargers behind). We wasted more time driving north, did a little shopping, called the motel several times. Finally decided to drive back down to the motel.
There were police cars, swat vans, and yellow tape blocking the road. We could hear a man on a bull horn talking about putting down weapons and stepping outside. My friend got out of the car and talked to a couple neighbors who were standing in front of their houses watching the situation. Here’s what we found out:
Yep. A man who just got out of prison, murdered his grandparents, and was leading the police on a multi-state manhunt had checked in just two rooms away from us. We’re pretty sure he was half-or-all naked guy in the window.
We decided we wouldn’t be getting to our luggage any time soon, and just left our things including my handwritten revision notes for HELL BENT behind. We headed home.
The good things? He never came to our door. We were unharmed, as were all of the people in the motel. Also, I have a new phone battery and a pair of bunny ears I stress-purchased. It was not, however, a very relaxing vacation. Maybe next year we’ll just stay home and party in the back yard. 🙂