It was a little before midnight, and the credits for Raymond Chandler’s movie “Farewell, My Lovely” had just rolled as my wife, Brenda, and I turned out the light in room 102 at the Microtel in Lexington, Ky.
The chilling account of murder, which included the line, “It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window,” was resounding in my head as I wafted off to sleep.
The first noise awakened us about 12:45 a.m. It sounded like a faint dog bark, but we knew that wasn’t possible since animals weren’t allowed in the low-priced motel, even with a cash deposit.
The second time we heard a commotion it was about 1:30 in the morning; a man and woman next door were shouting and banging their door. Aggravated and still sleepy, I got up to call the front desk when I heard the man in the next room tell a woman he could stuff “him” into the trunk of the car, and no one would ever be the wiser.
We knew we shouldn’t be eavesdropping, but this conversation sounded serious.
“Do you think we should call the police?” Brenda asked breathlessly.
“Shh! I want to hear what they are saying,” I said as I pressed my ear up against the thin wall separating rooms 102 and 104.
Then, I heard the woman ask the man why he didn’t dress “him” in clothes and sneak out to the car.
“Be quiet!” the man snapped back in a harsh, threatening voice. “You’ll wake everyone up.”
Little did they know, Brenda and I were now wide awake. The couple kept talking and we kept listening, until finally they decided they were going to take “him” to the car and leave before someone called the police. We heard the woman say she was going back to bed, but the man insisted they were leaving and leaving then.
“I’m going to walk up to the lobby and see if I can get a look at the couple in case the police want a description,” I said.
“Please don’t,” Brenda replied. “They might stuff you in the trunk, too.”
The clock struck two when I left the room and cautiously walked to the front desk. I looked at the clerk sleeping at the desk with her head in her hands. I didn’t disturb her.
I opened the front door of the motel quietly and walked out into the parking lot to get a closer look. I stood back and watched, dead quiet.
The big man came out of the room first. He walked outside to a blue Chevrolet sedan sitting in a handicapped parking space near the back door of the motel. He looked around both sides of the car, then pulled a cell phone out of his back pocket and dialed a number.
Within a minute, he put the phone back inside his pocket, leaning back against the car, lighting an unfiltered Camel cigarette, as he threw the empty pack into a trash container. He acted like he was waiting on someone.
The man was preoccupied with his cigarette and didn’t see or hear me. Without warning, my cell phone rang.
It was Brenda.
“Are you OK, honey?” she asked nervously.
“Yes. Let’s get off the phone before this guy hears me,” I whispered to her. “I’m fine.”
As I walked back toward the front of the motel the back door opened and a blonde woman walked out with “him” over her shoulder — it was dressed in a black hoodie, and wrapped in a large, blue blanket. I carefully slipped behind a parked car to get a better look.
Just as the woman approached the man in the sedan, I heard a loud bark, and the blanket started to move — I saw the head of a poodle pop up from the blanket and then I heard several sharp barks.
I heard the man tell the woman they wouldn’t have to put “him” in the trunk after all. The three of them, the man and woman in front, and the poodle in the back seat of the car, pulled out of the parking lot onto the busy highway. The man had lowered the back window enough that the poodle soon had its head outside the window, barking and smelling the air as dogs sometimes do.
I walked back into the motel and asked the now awakened clerk if dogs were allowed inside the motel. She simply shook her head and pointed to a big, red sign that said, “No Dogs!”
When I returned to our room, Brenda asked me what had happened. She wanted to know if they had a body. “There was a body alright, but it was a poodle who was very much alive,” I said.
“Anyway, it made for an exciting evening. Wasn’t that blonde woman pretty?” Brenda asked.
“Just ask the bishop,” I said, as I dialed the front desk for a wake-up call.
She never answered.
Pat Haley is former Clinton County commissioner and former Clinton County sheriff.