Tommy watched the old man in the green suit come out the gallery and walk down the street away from the hotel.
‘I bet he’s going to the beach,’ thought Tommy. Without waiting to see, he turned around and began walking quickly to the hotel. He wanted to find out about the suitcase: ‘why did no one call the police? Didn’t they see the blood coming from it? If I can find out more, I won’t have to worry about the police chasing me!’ he thought. ‘And I can tell my dad what happened!’
Soon, Tommy reached the hotel and pushed through its heavy doors. Inside, guests were talking, or having coffee, and there were lots of hotel workers who looked busy. One of them, a maid, walked quickly past Tommy. She was carrying lots of bed sheets in her arms. Tommy thought the sheets looked like big, white pieces of bread. She was nearly past him when one of them fell off and hit the ground.
‘Be kind to others,’ Tommy’s mother always said. He reached down and picked up the bed sheet. ‘Would you like some help?’ he asked.
‘That’s very kind of you,’ the maid replied. `I have so many rooms to clean. But first I need to go to room 46…’
Tommy’s eyes went wide: room 46 – that was Mr Mint’s room.
‘…to change the sheets on the bed,’ the maid went on. ‘Do you mind carrying that sheet for me?’
Tommy smiled. ‘Not a problem,’ he said and followed behind the maid.
‘What’s your name?’ asked the maid.
`Well, Tommy follow me,’ she said and together they went up a long staircase that turned in a half circle and ended on the first floor of the hotel.
Outside room 46, the maid knocked on the door.
‘He’s not…’ began Tommy.
‘Hmmm?’ asked the maid. ‘What did you say?’
‘Eh, nothing,’ he replied quickly.
With the maid holding the door open, Tommy went inside.
The first thing he saw was the suitcase on the floor beside the door. It was closed. ‘I need to see inside it!’ he thought. He went on walking. In front of him, on a desk next to the window, sat a large painting, and next to it, a small picture. The small picture and the large painting were the same: both were red with a little yellow in the middle. Tommy saw that the paint was still wet on the painting and that in the corner of it, there was a name in blue letters.
`Just put the sheet on the bed, Tommy,’ the maid told him.
Tommy dropped the sheet onto the bed, but all the time his eyes were on the name that was on the painting. It was difficult to read…‘S.M.A…’
`Thank you! You are a kind boy…’
Tommy was walking out the room, eyes still on the painting…‘I.N.G – the words spelled ‘Smalling’.’
The name at the bottom of the painting meant nothing at all to Tommy – but ‘Smalling’ was an easy name to remember.
A maid (n) – someone who cleans rooms in a hotel
Bed sheets (n) – we sleep on these