When Jack arrived in London, it was just after 7:00 A.M. Which means it’s just after two in New York, he thought. I hope Regan’s asleep. He hadn’t checked any bags, so he zipped through immigration and out to the taxi stand, where a driver was waiting for him.
Forty-five minutes later he was at the front desk of his hotel near Scotland Yard.
“You’re lucky,” the clerk said to him. “Your room is ready. The gentleman who used it last night checked out early this morning. The maid’s already been in there and tidied up.”
“Great,” Jack said. He knew they didn’t have to have the room ready until three o’clock, but he was dying for a shower and wanted to get over to Scotland Yard. He was restless but couldn’t quite put his finger on the reason why. With any luck I can get everything done today and catch a flight back tonight, he thought hopefully.
He refused the offer of a bellman, since he just had a hanging bag, and took the key to his room on the fifth floor. When he reached the room, the maid’s cart was parked right outside the open door.
“Hello,” he said as he walked in.
“Hello, love.” The fiftyish maid popped her head out of the bathroom. She was a cheerful sort.
“I’m sorry. They told me the room was ready.”
“Right. They’re always getting confused, aren’t they? I’ll be out of here in two shakes.”
“Thanks. I have to shower and then get to work.”
“So you’re working on Saturday too?”
Jack smiled as he walked over to the bed and put down his bag. “Yes.”
“It’s a living,” she said. “All right. I’ve finished up. Have a good one.”
“You too,” Jack said, then noticed money and a note on top of the dresser. “Wait,” he called to her as she started out the door. “I think this money must be yours.”
“Thanks, love,” she said as she hurried over to the dresser. When she realized how little was there, she said, “Hardly worth the shoe leather to come and fetch it,” but nonetheless shoved it into her pocket and picked up the note. “Thanks for such great service. It was like having my own butler.” She looked at Jack and rolled her eyes. “Maybe I should become a butler.”
Jack smiled. “I know of a butler school in New York City that just started.”
The maid waved her hand at him. “We’ve got more than enough butler schools over here. Too many in fact. A lot of competition. But it doesn’t matter to me. I’d never last in one of those places. Too formal for me.” She headed back out the door. “Cheerio, love.”
“Cheerio,” Jack said as he unzipped his bag and hurried into the bathroom with his shaving kit.