"What floor?" I asked her.
"Twelve," she said, shrugging a couple of her cameras off her shoulders and resting them at her feet.
"Us too," Carol said. "Probably the only floor they're using."
She pressed the button and the door slid closed.
"I can't believe I'm staying in this piece of crap," the woman said. "It's all I could get. I just made my reservations yesterday." The elevator started its lift-off and she gave us another smile and stuck out her hand. "Marjorie Richmond," she said. "Publishers Weekly."
"Carol Murphy," Carol said. "And this is Guy Mallon."
We shook hands and Marjorie Richmond said, "The Guy Mallon? Publisher?"
I could see a reflection of my proud grin on Carol's face. She knows me too well, can do imitations of me that put me in my place and make me laugh out loud. Right now she was doing an aw shucks.
"God, this is so great," Marjorie went on. "I want to shoot you."
"Be my guest," Carol said.
The elevator bumped to a halt at the twelfth floor and the door opened. We got out and started down the hall, the three of us and all of Marjorie's technical baggage. "Hold on a sec," she said. "Guy, will you carry a couple of these camera bags for me? My shoulders are killing me. Straps are cutting off all the circulation in my boobs. Man, do I need a massage."
I took the heavy bags from her and we hit the dimly lit trail. "I spent a couple of hours with your poet this afternoon," Marjorie said. "Heidi Yamada? She's so great. Totally photogenic." "Taking pictures? Of Heidi?" I asked. "So are you doing a story for PW?"
"Yeah. It's a last-minute thing. We're doing a poetry issue in July and I'm here to follow some of the poets around. Are you guys going to the WESTAF party tonight?"
"Wouldn't miss it," I answered.
"Unfortunately," Carol added.
"Oh God, it's going to be great," Marjorie said. Another huge smile. There was lipstick on her teeth, and sweat was dripping off her forehead, but she was a dish and knew it. PW, I thought. I thought. And she's heard of Guy Mallon Books. She photographs poets.
"So this is my room," she said. "Twelve twenty-four. You guys want to come in for a few minutes?"
"No thanks," Carol answered for both of us. "We're just next door. Twelve twenty-six."
"Hey, nice. Coincidence, huh? By the way, do you know if there's a shuttle to the WESTAF party?"
"I doubt it," I told her. "It's a pretty exclusive affair."
"Right," Carol said. "Only the wildly rich and famous stars from the small-press publishing world."
"Well shit," Marjorie said. "I guess I'll have to take a cab. That's such a pain. All this shlepping. I'll take those bags now."
I handed her the luggage and she fished around in one of them and pulled out a couple of business cards for Carol and me. Then she fished around in another camera bag and found her hotel key. While she opened her door, I read the card:
Marjorie got her door opened and hefted her camera bags.
Another smile, right at me. "Hey, why don't we share a cab? Save a few bucks."
"We've got our own car," I told her. "A station wagon."
"You can come with us, Marjorie," Carol said. "Meet us in the lobby downstairs, six-thirty sharp."
From The Poet's Funeral by James M Daniel. Copyright © 2005 by James M. Daniel. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means without the prior written permission of both the copy right owner and the publisher of this book.
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