This week, there’s a new issue of Midnight Breakfast, and one of the stories found there is by me. It’s called “Airport Hotel Ghost Tour,” and there’s a story behind it. Maybe two. Maybe three.
In the fall of 2011, I traveled to New Orleans for the first time. I was there for what had been billed as an engagement party but turned out to be a post-wedding party (not a bad surprise, as surprises go), but as I was only there for a long weekend, I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time there as I would have liked.
I had an early-morning flight back to New York City on Monday morning, as I’d decided that I wanted to try to get in to work rather than use a vacation day. And so, rather than stay somewhere in the city as I’d done the two previous nights, I found myself staying at a hotel near the airport, having a last dinner of comfort food. As someone who grew up in central New Jersey, I have nothing against comfort food, but relative to some of the meals I’d had in the past forty-eight hours, it seemed a huge disappointment.
“Well, maybe I can work this into a story sometime,” I thought.
That notion rattled around in my head for a year or two. Somewhere along the way, it combined with another memory from a previous vacation, involving signs for a ghost tour and a lonesome man standing, waiting for someone to arrive who’d go on it. And basically, that memory and the memory of the airport hotel dinner came together, and this is what emerged.
The hotel hung low-slung like a truncated letter U. There was a long stretch with two abbreviated wings facing out over an emptied pool, around which yellow caution tape had been half-assedly strung. To Marco, it seemed less a warning than someone’s beshat detritus, or a celebration’s weather-worn aftermath. From the second floor, it seemed like a giant’s grave, waiting to be filled.
The hotel’s outline reminded Marco of a kind of fortress, designed to obscure the adjacent takeoffs and landings. It seemed to Marco that this had been a failure. Though the planes’ ascent and descent was cloaked, their sound was not; removed from the accompanying visuals, there was only that sort of terror, the sound of nearby engines and metal, hurtling or falling less than a mile away. The sounds and sensations that this shelter released could only summon sharp anxiety and catastrophe’s illusion. Who needed ghosts, Marco thought. He continued up the stairs, following Otto.
If you’d like to read the whole story, you can do that here.