Segment 17: 4 Beds on Christmas Eve/New Money in the Penthouse Suite (1959) – Part 4

written, edited, and produced by Viktor Devonne for 2 Night Stay
performed and recorded by Charles Stunning

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transcription:

gilman-logo-new-transparentRealizing the late hour, Margaret held her breath as she entered the next room. The penthouse. Usually this required two maids and sometimes took upwards of three hours depending on the condition left by the previous guest. If her memory served, it had gone unused for the last month, so this was clearly a special occasion for someone.

As she wheeled the cart in, she was greeted by a small dog, sitting quietly and attentively at the door, perhaps waiting for someone to finally come in. This was a small caramel, deep brown, and white colored beagle, and Margaret searched her memory for a split second as to why that seemed so familiar.

He sat beside a set of luggage—a beautiful robin eggshell blue, monogrammed “A.F.”
The table next to the door was adorned with a valuable hand muff, a fortune in white fur.

This well-behaved dog was the one she saw in the lobby earlier in the night.
“Rudy!” came a voice from the bedroom. Margaret stood still in her tracks. The voice was feminine, clearly older, with a mezzo-soprano sing-song affectation.

Nearly waltzing in with a cigarette holder and tumbler likely to be full of gin was a cheerful woman of about sixty. Her vertical line Dior dress was a warm shade of cream, her hair pulled tight to her scalp like a sensible Lauren Bacall, and a white, glittering smile that rivaled a starlet.

“Oh, hull-oh!” she said cheerfully. “I’m so sorry my dear,” a New England accent coming forth, “I know the man at the desk said you were still handling the rooms but we just had to get ourselves settled, you know.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Margaret nearly curtsied out of the queenly nature suddenly permeating the space, “I can return later if this is not a good time.”

“Oh, no,” the woman waved her hand in Margaret’s direction as she settled herself in a lime green shell chair, wrapping a stocking-clad leg underneath her. She tapped the cigarette in her hand towards the tray on the table next to her. “I’m in _your_ way after all. Rudy!” she sang.

The beagle jumped in her lap accordingly, and faced Margaret as she pulled the cart into the living room area of the suite. “Yes, ma’am.”

“Angie,” the woman puffed on the cigarette, energetically. “Never cared for ma’am from the…” While she stopped short of saying “help,” it was clear. She shut her eyes, ashamed, and continued in an accent more acquainted with Astoria, “Sorry, my dear. New money is rude money.”

Margaret caught herself in a laugh, and the woman scrunched her face in joy and pointed, “See, there, that’s better.” Margaret began pulling forth sheets from her cart’s middle drawer.

The woman with new money looked her over, and a few more puffs later, she said, “You know, I was a laundress until about four years ago. We’re not so different. I worked on my feet day and night for twenty years.”

Margaret, not quite sure what to say in response, managed “Oh, I see.” She just couldn’t bring herself to be so familiar, despite “Angie”’s insistence. “Is madam staying here for the full week of holidays?”

“We’ll see,” Angie sighed with a hint of sadness and then brushed aside for a brighter lilt,

“You know I do love this hotel. I’ve only just been able to afford it, you know. But I’ve been coming here for three years now. It’s important, you know, to have traditions.” Angie let her drink down to gently rub the back of her neck. “You’re new.”

“Just six months, madam.”

“Angie,” the woman repeated gently. “Or Mrs. Fenton if you really must.”

“Mrs. Fenton,” Margaret echoed, grateful for the alternative.

Mrs. Fenton rolled her eyes with understanding, and clicked her tongue in her mouth, attempting to dislodge some memory from lunch in her teeth. “Six months. So you’re part of the new crop. They were shut down, nearly completely, for a year and just can’t keep the staff since.”

Margaret nodded. She had management instructions to never discuss the year the hotel was dark.

Mrs. Fenton pressed on, “You know about that, don’t you,” she brought her head lower, trying to make eye contact with Margaret as she selected pillowcases.

“Yes, Mrs. Fenton, but it’s really not my place to—“

“Oh, nonsense.” Mrs. Fenton heaved through her own smoke. “We’re just the same.”

“As you say,” Margaret politely but unconvincingly agreed.

Margaret passed Mrs. Fenton with the cart to approach the beds.

Quickly on her feet, Mrs. Fenton followed her into the next portion of the penthouse. Rudy claimed the chair for himself, in her absence.

“You know about the accident,” Mrs. Fenton, getting a touch bristly. Even she knew this was grossly inappropriate, but she demanded confirmation.

“I do,” sighed Margaret, not looking at her, “I read all about it.”

Momentarily satisfied, Mrs. Fenton cleared her throat in celebration and toyed with her lavaliere necklace.

“I know you think I’m rude. And I’m sorry for it.” Mrs. Fenton gently folded one hand under her other elbow, keeping the cigarette in reach of her mouth.

“No, madam—Mrs. Fenton,” Margaret said, somewhat distracted by the noncooperation of the fitted sheet. She pressed her hands firmly on the mattress and mused that there was a sect of guests who insisted on speaking with her when she was caught in a room with them. Most of them were dead, but a good portion were the living and rich who wanted to impress upon the lower class that they could still connect with their meager counterparts.

This one, however, was so aggressively vital—like they had been imprisoned for twenty years and just could now see the sun and the moon and yet impatient that they couldn’t get both at the same time. Mrs. Angie Fenton was desperate for attention, likely a miscreant of both worlds—the rich, the poor—if neither would claim her.

Indulging her, Margaret looked up at Mrs. Fenton, who hadn’t taken her own eyes off of her, and said “Are you here in town to see family?”

Mrs. Fenton’s eyes twinkled in silent consideration. “In manner of speaking, honey.” Her voice was lower, more contemplative.

Sensing she may have just hit on Mrs. Fenton’s favorite monologue, Margaret stilled her tongue, and for several moments, the only sounds were the fluffing of down pillows.

Mrs. Fenton had lit another cigarette, her last in its final stages of smolder now discarded in another crystal tray by the bed.

“It’s not like the papers said, you know,” Mrs. Fenton said, apropos of nothing.

“Ma’am?” Margaret murmured, doing her best to get a small spot of a strain on the carpet.

“The floor didn’t just cave in,” Mrs. Fenton said, her voice slower and deliberate. “It was pulled up.”

“Ma’am?” Margaret repeated, half listening.

“But the bodies still fell through to the lobby.” Mrs. Fenton sighed, almost in wonder.
Margaret’s full attention was caught, and she awkwardly stood back up and slowly padded her apron down. “I see.”

The air was now nearly solid with tension, and Margaret considered she may have been hoodwinked after all, and this vibrant, uncultured new money would turn out to be some damned spectre of a lost soul.

Mrs. Fenton looked at Margaret sympathetically. “I’m sorry, my dear. This is why I don’t get those invitations for Sunday luncheon at the women’s auxiliary.”

Margaret gave a crooked but sensitive smile to the woman before her. “Quite alright, Mrs. Fenton. I’ve finished the bed, though, and will need to handle the bathroom if that’s alright.”

Mrs. Fenton’s manic energy clicked back into place and she was suddenly Mame Dennis again, “Oh my yes, of course! I’m just chewing your ear off and you have work to do.”
Margaret breathed relief, and went to wash down the sink, toilet, and tub.

Mrs. Fenton however fluttered after her, and leaned in the doorway to watch. Margaret continued on, attempting her normal duties more often done in solitude.

For many minutes, the only thing shared between the two women was the sound of a washcloth against porcelain, and the cranks of faucets on and off.

Margaret turned to Mrs. Fenton, who was dreamily looking ahead, past her.

“You got kids, Margaret?” Mrs. Fenton said suddenly, still looking beyond her.
Margaret hesitated, quite certain she had not given her name. “…Yes. I have a daughter.”

“Apple of your eye and all that.” Mrs. Fenton muttered, still dazed.

“Pardon me, ma’am,” Margaret attempted to leave the bathroom. Mrs. Fenton returned to the present moment and moved aside for Margaret to exit and then return shortly with new towels.

Mrs. Fenton clicked her tongue a few times absentmindedly. “Listen,” she said, her cheer once again on holiday. “I’ve been looking for someone when I come here. I don’t know if you’ve seen him.”

Margaret was adjusting the towels on the rack, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Fenton, I don’t see many of the guests once they check in. I’m right before or right after them.”

“No, no,” Mrs. Fenton smiled sadly, looking at her cigarette withering away. “Not a guest. He worked here. Few years ago. But I don’t know if he’s still…” Mrs. Fenton paused until Margaret returned her gaze, “Still here.”

Margaret’s eyes shifted away. Feeling herself go all goose flesh, she exhaled slowly, and tittered.

“He worked in the restaurant,” Mrs. Fenton continued, looking directly at Margaret, “Your man at the front desk won’t talk to me about it. I can’t get anyone to talk about it.  But I got an idea you know what I’m talking _about_.”

Margaret did not respond.

“Worked the Byron party.” Mrs. Fenton went on, with a grave passionate stillness.

“The Byron…” Margaret knew the story. Local politician holds a self-congratulatory party on the second floor in the ballroom. Guests are having a grand time and an interruption comes mid-celebration. The floor cracks apart and bursts, killing the partygoers and the staff. The hotel shuddered for a year, nearly everyone who survived would then quit, and the investors in the hotel had their hands tied with insurance and payouts to the grieving.

“I’ve seen a lot of these… previous guests,” Mrs. Fenton said, dancing spectacularly around the specifics. “People stay in this hotel long after they check out, right. You know what I’m talking about.”

Margaret found it useless to not admit it. “Yes, ma’am. There are a number of… extended stay guests at the hotel.”

“Now I don’t know why that is,” Mrs. Fenton squirmed on the doorframe, repositioning herself in an awkward attempt to look casual. “And that’s really not my concern, you know. But my boy was here. And he’s not now. And I wanna know why that is.” Mrs. Fenton’s voice began to tremble with emotion verging on irritation, “And I wanna know when this place is crawling with ghosts, my boy isn’t here for me to see on Christmas Eve. I wanna know why that is.”

Margaret’s heart sank, and her eyes began to well. “I’m sorry, ma’am. I don’t know who stays and who doesn’t. I don’t know why some… people aren’t here.”

“Well,” Mrs. Fenton propped her chin on a wavering back of her hand. “I just think it’s all a little unfair. A little unfair for me to come all this way and him to not…”

Margaret moved forward, with an instinct to comfort through her, but Mrs. Fenton pulled back, slinking into the bedroom, past the bed, and towards the living room. Margaret caught up to her, back in the lime green chair, her dog out of sight. Mrs. Fenton was now sobbing, clutching her face with the inside of her elbow and burying herself in the plush cushion. “I came back to see him,” she cried.

Margaret put a hand out to Mrs. Fenton’s shoulder, and nearly stumbled over when she instead fell forward, onto the chair. Mortified, Margaret lurched up, ready to apologize for her fall onto a bereaved old woman.

Instead she found herself alone. Terrified, she fell onto her backside, facing the chair and looking at it like it had transformed into a serpent. Pulling her body back with her arms, she bashed her head against the dresser behind her. She searched the room with her eyes from her current, floorbased viewpoint.

She did not see Rudy. The ash tray next to the chair was empty, missing the telltale cigarette bits of an oft-smoking guest. The suitcases by the door were gone. The ermine fur muff that she knew had been there, was not on the side table by the door.
Margaret fumbled to get up, looking frenzied and ridiculous doing so, but no one was present to see it. She grabbed the cart and shuddered herself out of the room, and into the hall, hearing the door clack in the silence of the floor.

Breathing heavy in these many months having experienced the unusual and the tragic, Margaret scarcely recalled being at more unease. Feeling her way down the hallway with one hand clutching the cart and the other dragging across the wallpaper, she returned to the elevator and before she knew it, she was back on the lobby floor.

Emerging from a haze not unlike Alice in the looking glass, Margaret pushed forward and was soon in view of the front desk. She huffed in reassurance that the everlasting grimace of Mr. Farrell remained. However, she caught herself short of leaping at him, and praising the stars for his presence when she saw he was speaking with a constable.
The officer’s eyes made their way to the flustered Margaret. “Miss,” he said, waving a gloved hand to her to come closer, “We’re going to need to you stay here right now, until the folks upstairs leave.”

Margaret was lucky to not let loose a baffled obscenity. What next?

She saw the officer was writing down a statement from Mr. Farrell, as she slowly moved closer to the desk and then behind it.

The officer’s voice came into earshot, matching the blurry image Margaret was still attempting to get in focus.“And she did not come back downstairs after she checked in?”

“No, sir.” Mr. Farrell spoke as eloquently as Margaret imagined he always could. “She checked in, and insisted on going straight to her room.” He paused. “The penthouse suite.”

“Mmhmm,” the officer wrote something worthwhile in that sentence, down on his pad. Margaret edged closer to Mr. Farrell.

“I informed the madam that her room was not yet decent for her, but she insisted.” Mr. Farrell gave a passing gesture towards Margaret. “The maid had not yet prepared it.”

“Doesn’t look like she made it up there anyhow,” the constable clucked.

“Sir.” Mr. Farrell nodded.

Margaret, as if having finally returned to the earth, was still taking it all in. “Mr. Farrell?” she squeaked out.

His face the usual calm gray, Mr. Farrell continued looking at the officer. “Margaret,” he said. “The penthouse, have you finished it?”

“Yes, Mr. Farrell,” Margaret said on the verge of incredulity.

“Mrs. Fenton will not be requiring it. We will be sealing the second floor for the evening.”

“The second floor—“ Margaret attempted to guess.

“The ballroom.” Mr. Farrell confirmed, now looking directly at Margaret. “There has been an incident.”

Before Margaret could gasp or clutch at her throat, the constable cleared his own and continued on, “We’ll have the body taken down in the next hour once we’ve got her settled. What a pity for this on Christmas.” He looked at Margaret, “Miss, I would suggest you not be present for that; they’ll have to bring her through the front door to take her to the coroner’s. It won’t be nice to look at.”

“Did she…” Margaret managed out, “Did she leave a note?”

“No, miss. Very odd situation, it all being said. Ma’am was wearing a full eveningwear dress and jewels, had all her bags with her….” He paused and looked back at Mr. Farrell.  “How’d she get her bags up there anyway? She had three or four of them.”

“The… the bellman…” Mr. Farrell said, almost stumbling over his words. “He’s just gone off for the night. I can find out where he was when all this… this happened.”

“That’s right queer,” the constable frowned. “I’d hate to think she had help with this.”

“No, no, that’s right,” Mr. Farrell offered quickly, “The bellman wasn’t here. I helped her to the elevator, and she… she insisted on going up alone. She said she would handle her own bags when she reached the top floor. She was quite certain she could handle it.”

“A woman her age,” mused the constable. “Strange for her to say so.”

Margaret shifted her eyes to Mr. Farrell and the constable, whose face looked unconvinced.

“She didn’t get to the top floor, you know,” the constable went on. “She went as far that… Per-sah-fae… that…” he checked a few earlier pages in his notes. “Persephone ballroom.” The officer’s eyes widened, “yeah, hey, that’s the one which—“

“Yes, sir.” Mr. Farrell said, his face in some pain.

“And that’s, that’s right above right here I guess,” said the constable, pointing towards the ceiling. “That’s where the floor broke open.”

Mr. Farrell was silent for a moment. He gestured towards further into the room, towards the center before the desk, and the fireplace. “Over there. That’s the center of the ballroom, above there.”

“Huh.” The constable said, clearly thinking of the headlines he could just barely remember. “Crazy. Bet you glad you didn’t work here then, huh.”

Mr. Farrell stiffened slightly, but spoke plainly, “I did, sir. I was behind this very desk that evening.”

Margaret’s mouth fell open, taking into the consideration the horror her ornery co-worker must have witnessed. “That’s… just awful, Mr. Farrell,” she exclaimed. He did not look at her.

“Well, you two stick around if we need more questions answered,” the constable flipped his notebook closed and began towards the elevator. “And, miss, if you can make sure that dog gets a walk soon.” He pointed towards the closed office door. “I don’t want you two to get stuck with a wet floor on top of all of this.”

Margaret turned her head to Mr. Farrell. He nodded. “It appears, Mrs. McCaculey, there’s a dog who’ll need someone to take home and be watched over for a while.”

As the sound of sirens neared, Margaret and Mr. Farrell stood behind the front desk of the Gilman Hotel, quietly and without much to say on the matter.

Segment 12: Historical Record part 3 (2015)

written, edited, and produced by Viktor Devonne for 2 Night Stay
performed by Dick Move, Iris Explosion, Seedy Edie, Johnny Caligula, Viktor Devonne, Sarah Tops, and Noctua, with Jack Barrow
engineered and recorded by Dick Move

patreon

transcription:

gilman-logo-new-transparentNARRATOREthan and Joshua Abrams have continued success with the Gilman Hotel in the 40s, enjoying a boost from the war, and the town’s advancements in industry.

LESLIE DAVENPORT, investigative reporter: The Gilman Legacy Foundation has continued to make money, CEO after CEO, and they’re really splitting their time between philanthropic, good for press type work, and also this hotel which, while cute and all, why do they care so much?

LAURA GRIFFITH-KELLY, Gilman Legacy Foundation president: The Gilman Hotel remains one of the foundation’s main priorities because it was a priority of our original figurehead, Lionel Gilman.  It is not a pet project, it is a continuation of one of his great visions: a place to call home when you are away from home.  The Gilman Legacy Foundation, and I, understand this principle.

CHARLY VILLAQUEZ, magazine editor: It does seem a little odd and I think they welcomed the chance to have the Abrams just handle things for a while.  They are well-to-do bachelors, with Joshua known for his work in the shipping industry, and Ethan who has a very successful home renovation and decorating empire.  These are smart, shrewd, capable men and history has chosen to sort of rewrite their contributions to these eccentric millionaires who bought a hotel for a lark and ditched it as soon as disaster struck.

NARRATOROne of the first things that they lost was a friend.  One of the longterm guests of the hotel, Natalie May Dashett helped create a series of radio jingles that welcomed sailors, families, and newlyweds to the location.

They really were enterprising in their marketing; they wanted it to be a destination hotel.  And they succeeded.

Dashett would eventually abandon them, leaving an alleged tab, and a hole in their trust.

DAVID HANDLER, authorShe was a Hollywood actress who got in trouble with the studio.  I wouldn’t exactly call her famous.  When she saw her chance to leave, she took it. 

viktor sketches 2 color
Natalie May Dashett sketch by Fishy Business

NARRATOR: While the Gilman Legacy Foundation counts Natalie May Dashett as one of their hall of fame guests due to her success in radio and a burgeoning film career, her absence also left questions.

FELIX SCOTT, contributing reporter: She disappears.  No trace.  Another one gone.  And No one cares.  No one questions it.  No one investigates the hotel.

GRIFFITH-KELLY: Miss Dashett was a prized guest at the hotel.  I have heard the stories about her, but as far as the foundation is concerned, she was a friend of the Gilman, and she left due to personal family reasons.  The film industry wasn’t for her, the business wasn’t for her.  We certainly aren’t going to fault her for that, and I consider her debt to the hotel, if any, paid in full due to her work with us.

DAVENPORT: Natalie leaving upset the brothers.  In Ethan’s diary, he called it a massive betrayal. 

NARRATOR: Ethan Abrams’ diary, which was published in the 80s, is set to be republished next year with more information about his time as owner of the Gilman.  Much of the original text was excised from the first printing, and assumed meddling of the Gilman Legacy Foundation.

GRIFFITH-KELLY: I don’t know anything about that.

NARRATOR: The diary gives one of the few glimpses of a horrific evening in 1954.  While neither Abrams brother was on location, Ethan discusses the aftermath and trauma of on December 6th.  It was the date of mayor-elect Lucas Byron’s inauguration celebration.

News from home shook me to my core.  I leave for the hotel tomorrow morning.  The entire second floor ballroom has been nearly snapped in half, with patrons of Byron’s party falling to the lobby floor.  I have been informed that nearly all of them are dead.  Joshua is chartering a plane from Switzerland, but I will likely be there before him.  I cannot imagine setting foot on such a sight.  William likely crushed.  Devastated. 

NARRATOR: The William that Abrams wrote of, identified in other passages of the diary as his lover, was in fact killed in the disaster.  One of the rotating head waiters of the hotel’s restaurant staff hired, William Fenton  was working the party when a tremor brought the second floor to a screeching halt.

HANDLER: The structure beneath the ballroom floor gave way.  It happened in such a way where reports indicate it was an earthquake or some sort of gasline explosion, but it was centralized to that single room.  No other floor was affected; in fact no other part of the second floor was affected.   It is weird.  I’ll give you that. 

NARRATOR: In later examinations, and studies done by structural engineers and analysts, the exact way the ballroom cracked and shattered is physically impossible, and despite all efforts to explain, the Abrams were left with an insurance nightmare.  The Gilman Legacy Foundation representatives stepped in and handled many lawsuits quietly, and when someone attempted to goad the press into sensationalism, their complaints would go quiet almost as quickly.

From the diary of Ethan Abrams:

The building stands.  I expected that I would come to rubble.  One is able to quite comfortably get around, despite the wreckage.  The ballroom has been fractured, creating small islands, preserved by the beams of the hotel.  Guests in the middle of their waltz given an unholy end to their evening. 

NARRATOR: The number given to the press and public is that of 214 souls lost.  This comprised nearly two dozen service people who were staffed for the event and were in the ballroom at the time, or in the lobby and affected by the debris and victims falling from the ballroom above.  Other guests and service people who were just outside of the room on the same floor, or in the kitchen quarters, were unaffected, and in fact only heard the commotion and panic of the guests who survived, not the incident itself that caused the disaster.

DAVENPORT: It’s a panic.  The bellhops are seeing the sky fall down.  People are bloody, scrambling down the stairs screaming, running out on the streets, expecting to the see the end of the world, but everyone else is fine.  They assume it must either be a gas explosion or it’s an earthquake, or something that everyone else is experiencing.  But no one else is.  Just the Persephone Ballroom.

NARRATOR: The disaster gives signs of both and implosion and an explosion,   with the floor ripped in twisted gashes, like vines. 

VILLAQUEZ: One major figure however isn’t in the ballroom, but he is included in the tally of 214.  The mayor-elect, himself, Lucas Byron was found dead in his bedroom with a woman not his wife.  They’re in bed, and they look like they’ve been in an earthquake.

SCOTT: The rest of the hotel is unaffected.  The walls are fine.  Not a single guest knew anything happened until they heard the screams from the ballroom.  No one on that floor even heard it happen.   How did someone on the sixth floor, in fact two someones, have injuries from the tremor when no one else did.  And if they were in the ballroom when it happened, how did they get to the sixth floor penthouse, take off all their clothes, and still get in the mood to (bleep) until they succumbed to their injuries?

NARRATOR: The mayor’s wife, Verna, survived the accident by nature of her being on the second floor terrace with other guests of the hotel.

VILLAQUEZ: Story goes that Verna Byron didn’t even run back in when the guests were screaming.  Everyone who was with her did, but she stayed on the terrace.   The police happened upon her; she has just stayed sitting on a bench while all hell was breaking loose and the other guests were coming out of their rooms to find out what happened.

NARRATOR: Dr. Rebecca Mortinelli–

DR. REBECCA MORTINELLI, PSYCHOANALYSTShock can come in many forms.  What was probably happening in Verna Byron, although I have not studied any doctor’s records on her, may have been a temporary paralysis that prevented her from getting up.  Knowing her husband, her friends, she could not face it.

NARRATOR: The Abrams would leave the Gilman the following year, with the suggestion it heavily affected their relationship.  Ethan would go to Chicago and Joshua would relocate to Europe, constantly on the move.  Within the decade, the legal aspects of the accident would be all but a memory and the hotel acknowledged those lost with a solemn memorial when the ballroom was refinished.

VILLAQUEZ: The inspection on that ballroom floor probably took at least five different independent companies. 

NARRATOR: More hits would continue.  The press coverage was overwhelming but the guest registry was bleak.  Longterm guests would move out, saying they could hear the accident in their sleep, despite not having heard it when it happened.

During one of its frequent dry spells, in 1975, three young broke into the construction site of the Lucretia Coridor, located on the 5th floor and temporarily blocked off.

DAVENPORT: One of the tenants of the Gilman Legacy Foundation is that the hotel is kept in consistent working order.  The Lucretia Corridor was shut down for almost four months in the winter of 1974 into 1975.  The guest list was still pretty low so it was low priority.  The lights were going out all over the floor, issues with the pipes, and there was no active property manager.  So it was days before a maid discovered them.

NARRATOR: Three unrelated young men between the ages of 19 and 23, were found with gas tanks and matches, with the consensus made by the police department that they were there to burn down a portion, or all of the Gilman hotel for unknown reasons.  Despite one major scorch mark on one wall, the rest of the hall was untouched, and the floor, despite being coated in gasoline did not ignite.

SCOTT: These kids weren’t known by the hotel staff as guests, and they somehow get in with gas tanks, all the way to the fifth floor, unnoticed, or let in by an employee.  But instead of torching the place, they decide to burn it only  a little bit and then hang themselves altogether in a dark hallway  with rope they apparently decided to also bring.  for kicks.  because why?

NARRATOR: The police ruled it a joint suicide, with the intent that they would hang themselves as the fire caught on, but it failed to.  One of the young men, Anthony Martinez, was the son of Carolyn Maitland-Scheer, grandniece of the ill-fated Calvin Maitland, who dubiously owned the hotel in the 20s.  She maintains she has no idea why her son was at the hotel that evening, and declined to participate in this program, except with the following written statement:

The Gilman Hotel remains a subject of pain for my family.  I have no interest in continuing to revisit old wounds, but know this: my son Anthony had never been told about the hotel, never been brought to the hotel, or lived fewer than 20 miles from the hotel, ever.  I continue to relive the pain of the last decision he ever made.   While he was drawn to that location with his friends, he had no malice in his heart.

viktor sketches 5 colorNARRATOR: Mrs. Maitland-Scheer declined to sue the Gilman Legacy Foundation for the accident, despite rumors she met with attorneys.

In the midst of a Hollywood love affair of haunted house books and poltergeist blockblusters, the Gilman received notoriety for its alleged connection to the supernatural, and what was widely referred to as the ghost of Denise Schonheit.

The hotel received a bump in interest when serial killer Edgar Corbin turned himself into authorities in 1982, having stayed at the Gilman off and on for two years, and chose his victims in the area while he stayed there.

DAVENPORT: So Corbin says he used the hotel as a cover, somewhere to stay when he was looking up people to kill.  The Gilman legacy foundation tries to cover up that he was staying there, but he came to the police station; he said what he did, how he did it, where to find them, and what room he was in so the cops can find his stuff. 

NARRATOR: Via Corbin’s official police statement,

WhenI was sitting in my room, I would shake and cry.  I wanted to stop.  I knew I had to stop.  But I kept going out and finding them.  I was afraid to stop.  But I heard her.  I heard her voice and she would say to me, “Don’t hurt them anymore.”  And I saw her.  I saw the true face of innocence.  I cried.  I knew I could never hurt anyone else ever again.  Because she would know.

NARRATOR: Corbin, who confessed to the murder of 7 people, was not even on the suspect list of authorities, and led them to his stash of trophies taken from his victims, which was left at the Gilman.  The Gilman Legacy Foundation lodged a formal complaint against the TV network BloodstainD for its heavily fictionalized TV movie featuring a serial killer fitting Corbin’s description being a ghost in the hotel he used to scout victims.  Corbin in fact did not die at the Gilman; he died in prison in 2004, and while Corbin was forthcoming to the details of his murders, it is unclear if he ever killed anyone at the hotel itself.

viktor sketches 1 color
Requiem sketch by Fishy Business

Also in 1982, and presumably unbeknownst to Corbin, proto-darkwave and synth-metal band The Last Boys holed up in the hotel for weeks at a time, writing and recording the demos of what would become their first album. 

After achieving considerable success at home and abroad, the Last Boys would become most known for its connection to the Gilman, when lead singer Requiem was found dead of a purported overdose, several years after their initial booking.

VILLAQUEZ: Requiem became known for their shock rock antics.  They played into the “Hail Satan” trends of the 80s, courting opinion that they sold their soul, that they were a vampire–

DAVENPORT: In 1986, the hotel stops accepting new guests except for the longterm residents—basically people using the hotel as an apartment building, which it got into the habit of doing because it wasn’t making a lot of money except in longterm guests, or 1 night… or 1 hour guests…

GRIFFITH-KELLY: The Gilman Hotel was never closed to guests in the 1980s.  This is a story that persists despite the foundation’s insistence. 

SCOTT: They were shut down for health code violations.  It’s a verifiable fact.

GRIFFITH-KELLY: I’m sorry; I don’t know anything about that.

VILLAQUEZ: February 15th, 1986.  Requiem is staying there.  They quit the band, they quit the tour.   One night they get ahold of some bad smack and the next day, the headlines say “Rockstar Dead.” 

GRIFFITH-KELLY: I would also like to make sure we mention that in 1982, the Gilman Legacy Foundation helped sponsor the productions at the Diamond Pond Community Playhouse.

NARRATOR: Coming up,

DAVENPORT: They saw an opportunity–

GRIFFITH-KELLY: We aren’t looking to erase history–

HESPERWOLF, spiritualist: I knew when the phone rang who he was.  I knew why he was calling. 

NARRATOR: … when we return to Historical Record: Secrets and Skeletons.