Near summer’s end, I was in Denver for the annual writer’s Extravaganza. The clouds’ shadows had grown larger throughout the day along with the strange proceedings recorded here.
Excitement filled my mind while walking to the breakfast bar. I would meet interesting people with great stories they wanted to bookitize, and attend valuable training sessions conducted by authors sharing how they had bookitized their story(s).
The sessions were downstairs in a small quartette of rooms–one marked “DO NOT ENTER – Filming in progress.”
After the morning sessions, I had lunch at the bar grill café, alone. A high-tech décor of steel and dark stained wood absorbed some of the light that passed between the scattered clouds and large windowed walls. The slow service from the over-worked waiter was just what I wanted while analyzing fifty plus slogans for my new logo. I ordered the Cuban Panini.
Fifteen minutes later, additional wait-personnel arrived. But the guy in a navy blue vest looked out of place. Oh well, not any stranger than the woman training a service dog walking through the cafe. The Cuban arrived on a four-inch by twelve-inch rectangular stainless steel plate; I set my logo log aside, enjoyed the sandwich, and watched the service dog come down the stairs. This time with an armed police escort. So…they were training a police dog.
Just prior to preparing for the afternoon sessions, I’d charged the meal to my room while two well-dressed men walked by talking to their wrists—guessed they were rehearsing for the film.
By the way, the Cuban Panini was delicious.
During the afternoon’s second session the presentations’ solutions began to answer my pre-conference questions. Deserting the third session, to think about how this information could reshape my marketing plan, I wandered along a path to the restroom, vendor booths, and the registration desk to stash exhibit goodies in my computer bag. Back at the room I discovered my phone was gone.
Retracing my steps proved unsuccessful. During the second search, I moved in slow motion allowing my eyes to dart across every flat surface—my heart jumped for joy with each cell phone sighting.
Stroking my chin and standing in the door I felt helpless…and being followed.
A nice young man at the registration desk offered to help and dialed my number. Nothing! At that moment I remembered silencing the phone to avoid disturbing the sessions.
On the seventh pass I was whispering to myself while counting off clues on my left fingers with my right index finger—Cuban, cell, filming, session, computer bag…I turned the corner and almost ran into a well dressed man.
“My apologies. I wasn’t paying attention.”
“Humph,” was his only response.
Waiting in the hall for the third session to end so I could look for the phone, I overheard, “The Vice President is in-house. I was searched when I entered the building.”
My mind leapt from secret service to protecting the Vice President to dogs searching for bombs to cell phone detonators. Had a terrorist stolen my phone? Was he setting me up to take the blame? Was I going to spend the rest of my life in federal prison? Don’t go anywhere alone… The words from my mother tumbled in my mind like a dryer sheet. How would I ever find my phone?
That’s it! The past weekend I had set-up a Find My Phone application.
I fast walked to the elevators then to my room. Dropping the door card, I looked around before picking up the custom envelope. Had there been someone in the vending/ice room?
Fumbling through the key stokes and checking the door frequently, (I am as far from a computer geek, via skills, as possible) my Frank Lloyd Wright pen rolled off the desk, striking my foot, sending my heart into overdrive. I stood quickly and squirmed to maintain balance.
It took fifteen minutes to lock the phone and have it announce its location. Using the door’s peephole I scanned the walkways. Two maid’s carts, one in each walkway, stood as linen sentries. I need to find my phone before it becomes a key piece of evidence.
Pulling the door closed I fast-walked to the elevator. My heart was pounding as I approached the vending/ice room. Knowing the Vice President was in-house, I was sure the man talking to his wrist in the descending elevator was a secret service agent. Perhaps he was coming for me?
The elevator stopped on four, my floor. Before the ‘call button’ was depressed the doors opened.
My throat was dry. My hands were shaking. I had visions of prison.
“Good afternoon,” the agent said.
I swallowed hard, but it wasn’t enough moisture to fully lubricate my throat.
“GOO’d aph-turn-oon,” I struggled to say.
The agent exited the elevator. Walking into the elevator on shaking legs, I was agonizingly slow—time had stopped. A few seconds after pushing the “L” button I realized “B” should have been pressed.
My knees buckled slightly when the elevator stopped at the lobby level. An agent stepped in. I saw my distorted pale reflection in the rounded chrome corner trim. He checks the button panel; “B” is lit. The doors close.
“Good afternoon,” he says.
“These glass elevators make me nauseous too.”
Arriving at the bottom floor, he extends his hand for me to leave first.
I turn the corner. The young man at the registration desk is waiving my phone in the air, “Is this your phone?” he asks.
“Yes.” Whew, how lucky could I be?
I enter the unlock code. Fortunately, no calls to Sudan, Russia, North Korea…or Cuba—well not them, they are our friends now—though I guess someone might have wanted the recipe for Cuban sandwiches.
Note: This short story is based on an actual event, some parts are exaggerated for fun.
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