Half asleep, in the dead of night…I’m suddenly aware that someone is in my room. A moment later, fingers tap my shoulder…and my eyes fly open. Stanley Cooper, the Night Manager, is standing by my bed looking down at me, eyes full of gleam. “Let’s go cowboy…got a little job for you.”
I was about to protest but Stanley brandished a key in front of my face. “In my mailbox, last night…from the late August Truman.”
I sat up abruptly. Old man Truman was the Hotel’s historian, a poet and curator of riddles. And Truman had died yesterday under mysterious circumstances. I threw on my clothing and raced in pursuit as Stanley disappeared down the hallway.
Hotel Earth is a mysterious, sprawling landing-strip for lives in transition. No one knows its origins, how or why we came here. Even in its construction, there appeared to be unearthly elements at play crying out for answers. Most gave this the big “whatever”…and trudged on with their daily lives. Truman dug his heels in.
Operating out of his used bookstore, he became a beachhead for discarded theories and unapproved insights. One old rumor persisted. Somewhere hidden in his messy shop were ancient blueprints – about the Hotel…and the secret lives it continued to live.
Stanley and I arrived at his shop, took a collective breath and crossed the threshold into Truman’s world of old maps and clocks and books.
He had prepared for this moment. In the middle of the room was a weathered mahogany table. On its nicked surface was a box of matches, a Japanese Urn and a pile of ancient sketches and designs. Beside the pile was a handwritten note:
ashes & wind
a place to start
are seen with the heart
I had no idea what this meant. It didn’t matter. The blueprints had been found!
Removing the papers from the pouch, we scrutinized the parchments…increasingly disappointed. Amidst the faint writing there were blank spaces on almost every document, in some cases entirely unmarked pages. Dispirited, we lit a fire in the fireplace, fed the flames – watching each sheet of encrypted knowledge reduced to smoke and ash.
As dawn filled the eastern sky, the two of us stood on the rooftop…tossing the charred remains into the new day. Backlit by the red sky, I watched ash carried by wind – a dance of the visible with the invisible. Suddenly Truman’s words made sense. The blueprints were accurate, complete. But to unlock the code, to truly understand this home of ours, I’d have to learn to embrace the invisible…and lead with my heart.
Before heading down the stairs, Stanley gave me an inscrutable smile. In turn, I gave him a reluctant nod. Yes…I knew. Stanley was now passing the torch to me.