The train rolled to a halt at Brattleboro station. Solomon disembarked with the other passengers and took in the station – both platforms of it – Northbound and Southbound and along with other travellers made his way to the exit, pausing for a smoke and taking a a few lungfuls of the bracing mountain air – a definite contrast to the carriage.
Several other travellers including Julia and Alessandro were making their way to a bus with a smartly uniformed porter who introduced himself as Leonard who then gave the cold and tired travellers what Solomon considered to be a pompous and rather obvious speech about who he was, the function of the bus and where they were going.
It still beat talking to mechanical press salesmen ….......but not by much.
Eventually and not a moment too soon the luggage was stowed and they were underway.
The Majestic was ten miles away down ice-laden roads which caused some consternation amongst the passengers and Karl the driver performed his role with practiced expertise. When the glittering lights of the Majestic hove into view his knuckles were white on the wheel.
The tyres crunched to a halt outside the hotel and the tired passengers started the process of reclaiming their luggage before entering the Hotel.
Solomon leaned down to pick up his valise........and paused...........the porter Leonard had a strange malevolent look on his face after certain of the soon-to-be guests passed him by.
“Whats the matter?” Julia enquired, noticing Solomon's surreptitious observations.
The porter was now politely nodding when passengers thanked him, some of whom were pressing small bills into his hand by way of a tip.
Solomon shrugged “Nothing to worry about at the moment – that porter was looking at certain people strangely. And I dont mean pleasant.”
With a long hard look at Leonard who was now the picture of self effacing civility they entered the Hotel.
The new arrivals were greeted by the Manager Oliver Phillips Dixon who expressed the hope they would enjoy their stay and pointed them in the direction of very welcome glasses of mulled wine held by a white liveried waiter.
Agreement was made to meet Julia and Alessandro in the bar before dinner for an aperitif
Those new arrivals who had made arrangements in advance dispersed to their rooms. Solomon was relieved to discover the Majestic had plenty of rooms available for ad hoc guests and the necessary arrangements were made.
Grudgingly Solomon allowed the bellboy to carry his luggage to his room, tipping him as he left solely to be rid of him.
The door opened onto a tastefully appointed room comprising sage green décor, a comfortable looking bed and a wooden table with carved legs on which a wireless sat.
Taking off his shoes, Solomon crossed the thick pile carpet to the other door which led to an en-suite bathroom finished with gold plated taps. On the shelf below the shaving mirror there were complimentary toiletries and preparations........
“Nice............but more important things to do first.” he reminded himself.
The room got a thorough once-over the only thing that seemed out of place was the flicker of a fire out in the snowbound wilderness, how close he couldnt tell because of the dark.
Filing the oddity away with a mental shrug he checked his “tools” - for this assignment two of his favoured 9mm semi automatics and a small easily concealed .25 holding six rounds.
While the bath ran he unpacked and an hour later saw him tuxedo and tie clad. On his way out he picked up a packet of cigarettes and dropped the small pistol into a hidden pocket. Well tailored suits were an affordable luxury from his “commissions” which made up for the skulking and lying low after the event.
Giving the room a final check and closing the door he thought aloud to himself
“This is the mutts nuts Steinberg, better than the usual crummy apartments you end up in”
With a spring in his step he made his way to the bar for a pre-dinner aperitif................