After the scene, Beth slowly came back and I gave her a big bear hug and sat quietly with her until she was ready to get up. I packed the implements, fur blanket and speaker and we headed out. (Dark Musing Product Endorsement: audio in the Lair is a bit intermittent, at best, so I got a Jambox which pairs to my iPhone for Bluetooth connection and plays music from my iTunes. I built a Scene Playlist and played it with the scene. Damn, the sound quality from that tiny portable box is amazing!)
Later, when we got to the car, I opened the driver's side door and told Beth to put her hands on the car seat. Nervously, she asked why. I told her she was 22 minutes late so there were going to be 22 swats. She protested, but soon was bent over at my car in the parking lot getting spanked. A few minutes later she was in the back seat, over the seat back as if looking for something in the cargo space of my SUV, the seat turned into a makeshift spanking bench. I swatted her rear heartily and she bratted as if we hadn't played in a day and a half, and goaded me on to really lay into her--which, of course, I did. This only lasted for a few minutes, but we were laughing the whole way through and really enjoyed the lightheartedness of it. If we had needed to shrug off the oddness of the evening this had done the trick.
I drove Beth back to her hotel and she invited me up to get a little Easter gift--some baked goods she had made for me and brought down from her home. (They were red velvet whoopee pies and homemade Girl Scout-style Tagalongs. OMG! Those Tagalongs were like CRACK and had just the right combination of sweet and salty. [Hear that Erica??? Sweet AND salty!]) We talked up at her room for a bit, going over the scene bit by bit, when suddenly we heard four or five loud cracks from outside the hotel, followed by a woman's panicked screaming and a man's muffled yelling. The screaming went on for a couple minutes and then stopped.
"Do you suppose those were gunshots?" I asked. Beth wasn't sure and neither was I. "I'm going down to see what's going on," I said.
"Don't go yet!" Beth was afraid if they were gunshots, it might not be so smart to go to the lobby. (This proved a smart move.) We talked for a minute more and then we heard a helicopter, then to confirm it was the police, saw the bright light shining in her window. So something bad had gone down downstairs, but the cops were there.
I said goodnight, went to investigate and head home, thanked Beth for the goodies and, after all was said and done, a really great evening.
When I got to the lobby I discovered the hotel on lockdown, the minimum wage employee at the front desk terrified, a night manager in her pajamas talking to police and the entire hotel cordoned off. I was told no one was going anywhere until the crime scene photographer had arrived. There had been a shooting in the parking garage just off the lobby. I plopped myself on a bench in the lobby, phoned Beth and let her know what was going on. "I'm coming down," she said matter-of-factly. I tried to tell her to go to bed, but with the excitement of the cops, the sounds of the gunshots and the screaming still reverberating in her head, she said she couldn't sleep and would rather keep me company until the police let everyone leave.
Minutes turned to hours. Everyone in the lobby watched out the huge glass windows in the front of the boutique hotel as cops first drew chalk circles around blood and shell casings, then other cops came in to add little white plastic table tents with numbers for each. Finally, the photographer showed up, flashed photos of every numbered and chalked area and left. We never saw an ambulance or coroner's office van.
We heard from the kid in the lobby that there had been an altercation in the parking lot, two men fighting. There was a broken bottle behind my car that might have been used as a weapon. The police weren't sure. One man had been bleeding from the fight, went to a car (driven by a chauffeur according to the clerk!) and fired on the other man from the car with the driver. (WTF???) I don't know if the man who had been fired upon had been hit, grazed or missed. I assume the gunman missed since we never saw or heard a siren and the gunman (and driver!) fled the scene. But before he fled, the gunman turned to look at the hotel clerk standing in the open, wide doorway to the lobby of the hotel, pointing his gun. The kid slammed the door, used his master key to lock it, and ran and hid in the bowels of the hotel. Poor kid was terrified.
Crime scene photographer done, the cops pulled the tape, opened the doors and let people go, a huge R&B party spilling out to their cars to head off into the early morning. It was now 5 am and I said goodnight and goodbye to Beth, treats in hand, and headed home.
As I said, the evening was bookended by oddness, but the scene (and super-fun "afterscene") made it all worthwhile.