He hoped it was.
Sometime in the early hours of the morning, Edwards felt the bedcovers pulled away from him. He began, irritably, to adjust them. And then he heard a soft voice--a woman's voice--saying, "Ralph--I knew you'd come back." She pronounced the name "Rafe." Edwards felt something silken press against him, arms curve around him.
He sat up at once, pushed back his eyeshade, reached for the light switch. Whatever was happening, he wanted no part of it. He was a responsible man, vice-president of an insurance company, warden of his church, a Kiwanian, a married man preparing to give his eldest daughter in marriage next month.
"Madam," he said, "I believe you are in the wrong room." The light came on, and he had only a glimpse of a woman in a blue ball gown fleeing through the door. Or vanishing through the door.
Shaken, he arose, took two of the pills his doctor had prescribed, told himself he would give up red wine, and went back to bed.
When the telephone rang at the hour he had requested, he got up, still groggy from the pills, ordered poached eggs and whole wheat toast from room service, and stepped into the shower, turning the water first very hot and then very cold.
When Edwards had eaten and dressed, he felt in control of himself, and dismissed the nighttime incident as a bizarre dream, but not one he would recount to Martha.
The bellhop who carried his bag from the front desk to the taxi stand looked too old and bent, Edwards thought, to be doing this, but he knew many seniors and retirees had returned, by choice or necessity, to work.
The man was also annoying familiar. "Well, sir," he said, "sleep all right last night?"
"Satisfactorily," said Edwards.
"No disturbances then?"
"I'm not sure what you mean."
"Wasn't a lady invade your privacy, come for a late night visit?"
"See here, what are you getting at?" Edwards noticed a peculiar odor about the man--poor personal hygiene, he thought, and moved a step away.
"Well, sir, it's just that you was in 1402, and strange things have happened in that room over the years, always on the same date."
"Um--what sort of strange things?"
"Well, single gentlemen check in, and they say that sometime in the middle of the night a woman wearing a long blue dress comes waltzing in, says she's looking for a fella named Rafe."
"This has happened a number of times?"
"Oh, whole lot. Story is, there was a couple from Boston staying in 1402. Honeymooners. One night, fella says he's going down for cigars. Never comes back."
"Now she turns up once a year, same date, looking for him. Don't suppose she'll find him, though."
They were at the curb, and the taxi first in line had pulled up beside them. "You seem to know the story well," said Edwards.
"Oh, I should," said the bellman. Edwards noticed that the man was now standing erect, and the old fogeyisms in his speech had been replaced by crisp, Gielgudian diction. "I saw them that evening, carried their bags, and detected a certain weakness in the man. When he came down for cigars, I told him of a private club where he might enjoy many other pleasures.
"And," said the man, as his eyes turned a peculiar orange, "for a short time, he did."
Most unpleasant, thought Edwards, handing the man a bill and taking his bag. "When," he said, "is all of this supposed to have occurred?"
"In 1921. Have a safe trip, home, Mr. Edwards." And then he was gone, leaving only the pungent smell of sulphur.
"Hey, buddy," the cab driver called, "you gonna get in or just stand there talking to yourself?"