When I was younger I used to work as a night auditor for a very popular hotel chain in New Orleans. This particular hotel was once an old warehouse in the Central Business District. It had a long history that dated back to the Underground Railroad where tunnels built throughout the building were used to secretly lead slaves to boats on the Mississippi River. When the hotel owners started to demo the property to convert it into a hotel, they found old distillery equipment used during the prohibition days. The building was saturated in fantastic and interesting history.
I was told that during the renovation a decision was made to keep much of the existing brick and woodwork. This gave the hotel an intriguing historic and warehouse feel to it. While it hadn’t been occupied in nearly 40 years, the guts of the building were amazingly in great shape. It had such an interesting vibe and New Orleans is known for attracting the most interesting of guests for Mardi Gras and JazzFest. I loved it there, until the night I quit.
It was close to 3:30am when one of the guests stumbled in with a woman who frequented the hotel as a “guest” of our guests. She was one of the unspoken of perks that our concierge desk would provide when requested by only the most distinguished of guests. An incredibly beautiful, tall black woman, Diamond never had a problem getting work and she tipped us at the front desk, security and the concierge incredibly well for turning a blind eye to her activities. Being a professional flirt and me being bored out of my mind most nights, we often found ourselves having conversations when she finished her “shift.” The stories she would share with me to this day still boggle my simple mind.
Being that she had “worked” in the hotel longer than I had, she would tell me these stories about a certain row of spa suites that were visible from where I stood at the front desk up to the mezzanine. She mentioned how strange things would happen in those rooms when she or one of her girlfriends would visit them at night with at client. They were strange things like shadows, moving objects, flickering lights, and voices. I always took it as her showing off her art of storytelling and the fact she knew I often worked the desk alone at night; a point she often made when failing to meet her personal quota for the night.
On the night I quit, however, she was not her usual self. Fact of the matter is I didn’t even speak with her that night or any night thereafter. The last time I saw her she was running naked and screaming right out of the front door of the hotel. I remember hearing her first, through one of the spa suite rooms on the mezzanine. When I looked up to investigate the location of the sounds, I saw her hurl open the door of room M106 and watched her haul ass down the glass-walled hallway, down the stairs, and out to the street. I just stood there watching her in the shock and awe of the moment. Here was this voluptuous woman flopping all about, screaming, petrified and covered in something and all I could do was gawk. The moment she ran out of my sight, I sobered up and immediately gazed up at the open door of room M106.
After staring up at the wide open entrance of the room on the mezzanine for about a minute, my stomach dropped every time I saw a shadow change within the room. Soon, Bill, the lone security guard on duty, whipped around the corner from the back office area where he often took naps and quickly started asking me questions. Her screams woke him up. I pointed up to the room and tried to explain to him what had happened. He immediately called the police for backup and per protocol we both started to make our way up to the mezzanine level, eyes transfixed on the open door waiting for the drunken man to stumble out of the room. As we reach the hallway, other guests started peeping their heads out of their rooms to see what the commotion was about. We quietly hushed them back into their rooms for their own safety.
As we approached the doorway, Billy pulled out his gun and called out to the guest. There was no response, but we started to hear a very audible humming sound, almost like a rapid buzzing. When we entered the suite we could see the king size bed at the end of the hallway. This was one of the smaller spa suites that had a bed, an armoire with a TV, a desk and a jet-spa bathtub cattycorner to the bed. The bed was unkempt but empty and we couldn’t see the rest of the room from the hallway. So we moved closer in and with ever step the humming began to get louder and the shadows on the walls seemed to be floating back and forth like they were waves in the ocean.
I called out again to see if we could get an answer but we did not. We moved closer to the edge of the hallway, slowly and terrified. That’s when we began to see them. The cause of the shadow was everywhere and on everything. They seemed to blanket the entire room, on the bed, on the walls, in the air. Then we turned the corner.
Under the heat lamp above the bathtub spa there it was; a huge tent-sized swarm of angry and hungry termites. In the tub laid our naked guest, covered in termites, being devoured by termites. His body was marked by broken wings and small drill holes all along his skin. His eyes partially liquefied from the incessant digging of the termites. This once portly white man was reduced to a shade of red, brown and gray of crawling skin. The sight and swarm made it unbearable to stay and Bill and I ran out of the room, tripping over each other in our haste.
When the police arrived, they turned off the lights to the room and the swarm almost vanished instantly into the old wood beams that lined the room. A blanket of dead pests covered the room and the crunch I remember hearing as we walked through the room haunts me to this day. I was told Diamond suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after the incident. She supposedly said that the man started to get very rough with her and that a shadow floated out of the cracks of the wood and startled the guest. He fell back into the tub and that’s when the swarm manifested itself. The cause of death was a traumatic brain injury, but it wasn’t from the fall, it was from the nesting of the termites.
To this day you can still rent room M106 at the old warehouse hotel down in New Orleans. It is just under a different number.