A Mystery/Ghost Story

I recently visited the town of La Crosse, Wisconsin with my husband where we stayed in an historic bed and breakfast. We’ll call my husband Salvatore, since he hasn’t suggested a better nickname. Salvatore and I arrive on time at the B and B but the owner isn’t home. The owner, we’ll call her E. Centric, shows up about 5 minutes after we call her cell phone from the speaker at the doorbell (she’s a technologically advanced 80 something year old). E. is a petite woman wearing a black curly wig, blue jeans and an old fashioned frilly shirt. She tells us she is walking her dog in-cognito (no explanation given). On subsequent days she is a gray-haired lady wearing floor length skirts with layered flash dance style t-shirts and a frilly apron. She runs the B and B by herself and lives there with her cute, albeit stinky, dog Snafu (that’s his real name). She has lost our reservation and can’t give us the room over the garage that we had reserved because a previous guest has not yet checked out. She talks us into taking a more expensive room for a slight discount since she hasn’t cleaned the room that would be our other choice. We agree to stay in the more expensive room one night and move into the cheaper room the following night in order to accommodate guests that will be arriving the following day. E. gives us a set of 3 keys: One for the garage, one for the outside gate and front door and one for our room.

The next day, when we move into the smaller room, E. gives us another key which opens our new room and the bathroom (located through a glass door, around the corner and down the hall) on a separate key chain. We keep the original 3 keys (including one that opens our old room). Before we go out that night, I watch as Salvatore struggles to move the additional key from the set of one to the set of 3. It seems silly to me and since I don’t see why he couldn’t just carry two key rings. Also, since I’m not sure exactly what he is doing, I go to grab the key ring that he left behind. I confirm that there is no key on this key ring, so I leave it on the desk. Salvatore and I stay out late, and admittedly drink a bit much both at Oktoberfest and at a nearby ‘biker’ (as in motorcycle) bar. We are ‘happy’ and a little ‘loud’, but not staggering and slurring when we get back to the B and B at about 10:30. It will become clear later why our degree of impairment may be relevant. Salvatore uses a key to open the gate, the same key to open the front door and another to open the room.

I am tired, but hungry since the biker bar didn’t have food (unless you count the olives and cheese in the bloody marys). I finish a bag of Doritos and Salvatore eats a meatstick. Salvatore goes around the corner and down the hall to the bathroom. He unlocks the bathroom, brushes his teeth grabs some ‘prophylactic’ aspirin from his kit before returning to our room. I take the aspirin, drink some water and promptly fall asleep. Salvatore (reportedly?) watches TV for a while, gets up, turns off the TV and falls asleep shortly after I do.

Here’s the mystery/ghost story. A couple of hours later, I get up to pee in the middle of the night. No… that’s not a mystery, I drank beer earlier and a glass of water with my aspirin. I grab the keys from the desk and walk around the corner and down the hall to the bathroom where I try to open the door with each of the three keys on the key chain. I come back to the room and ask Salvatore where the bathroom/room key is. I see the ‘empty’ key ring on the desk and pat it to make sure it’s empty. After jumping around a few minutes because now I REALLY have to pee, I look on the desk again and notice a key on the ‘empty’ key ring. It looks like it had been folded under the plastic thing so I didn’t notice it when I first grabbed for it.

If the room key was on a separate ring, how did we get into the room earlier that night and how did Salvatore get into the bathroom? If we came home with all 4 keys on one ring, then who put the room/bathroom key back on the empty key ring? It wasn’t an easy thing to do and Salvatore SWEARS he didn’t do it. I KNOW I didn’t and I can’t imagine that E. came into our room in the middle of the night without our noticing. Salvatore is convinced there is a supernatural explanation. I suspect there is a natural explanation, but all of the options that I can think of seem extremely unlikely. Could Salvatore really have switched the keys back without any memory of having done it and without my having noticed it?

I should probably write a better ending to this story. For example, we got home and found out that E. Centric is dead and this particular B and B had been turned into a home for the criminally insane many years ago.