The Columbia Cop Caper…Part II: August 2021

An Original Short Story by Jack Robbin

Fallsburg Constable Bronco Kelly is back, and this time his job has taken him to Hurleyville’s Columbia Farm hotel, where he will be working for a weekend for the hotel’s owner, Ben G. Knapp, who is expecting a large contingent of New York City police officers at his hotel…
It was early on a Friday morning that I made my way to Ben Knapp’s small office in a well-shaded corner room on the ground floor of the main building of the Columbia Farm, reporting to work in my new temporary job as head of security.
I had left my house just a few minutes before, having helped Irene with the packing for our weekend, and she had asked if she could meet me at the hotel a bit later in the day so she didn’t have to get ready so early. I walked to the hotel, leaving the car behind, and arranged with our neighbor to use it to drive Irene up the hill to the hotel when she was ready.
Ben Knapp was a dynamo, moving from one thing to another, obviously both nervous and excited about the impending arrival of more than 200 New York City policemen and their families.
“The hotel will technically be overbooked, Kelly,” he said to me in between directing other staff members to do this or that. “There will be cops in nearly every room, and in a couple of closets. Some have their families with them. In fact, other than the room that you and Irene will be occupying on the middle of the third floor, the cops have booked everything except for Mrs. Corning’s rooms. She is our only other guest.”
“Mrs. Corning? Why does that name sound familiar to me?”
“Louise Corning. She has been coming here for years, the last couple as a widow. She takes the same three rooms every year. You must have heard of Ed Corning, he was a big-time Albany politician; died a couple of years ago. Was Lieutenant Governor once, I believe.”
“So she’s here now?”
“Yes. Been here all week. Will be leaving Sunday. She’s got rooms 101, 102 and 103, directly above us. She’s with her son and a couple of staff.”
“Okay, that’s good to know.”
“Folks should start arriving here about 2 o’clock or so. Most of them get settled in their rooms and then head to either the golf course or the pool for most of them. Some will just go for a walk. They will start partying in the rooms and the hallways a little before dinner and then head to the dining room. It’s after dinner that the real fun will start. Most of them will be at the bar and they’ll dance until we kick them out. Some will keep partying after that, back in their rooms.”
“So what do you want me to do?”
“Well, take the morning to get familiar with the place again. I know you used to work here, but things have changed a lot and there are quite a few new staff. Once you start to see them lining up in the dining room, just be available. No one needs to know who you are, just try to blend in.”
“They’ll know right away I am not one of them.”
“Some will, but most won’t give it a thought. You’re just another guest. That shouldn’t be too hard to sell, since Irene will be with you some of the time.”
“Just keep your eyes open for any trouble. And be prepared to stay up late. A lot of these guys don’t seem to ever sleep.”
“Will do.”
“Here’s the key to your room. You might want to go up and open the windows before Irene gets here. Could be a little stuffy in there otherwise.”
I walked up the stairs to the top floor, which was considered the fourth floor, but was actually five stories above the ground, since there were no guest rooms on the ground floor, rooms on the next story above were considered “first floor” and numbered in the 100s. The floor above that was the 200s, and so on.
I had expected that Ben Knapp would stick Irene and I in a dark and dingy attic room, but the accommodations actually turned out to be quite nice. Not luxurious, by any means, but certainly decent. I was happy, and I was sure that Irene would be too, though with her health issues the walk up the stairs might be a bit of a challenge.
“Oh hell,” I thought. “I’ll carry her up if I have to.” I was certain she would enjoy having someone cook for her for a change and to have a chance to just relax for the weekend.
On my way back down the stairs a short time later I passed by an extremely well-dressed woman and a teenage boy. They were standing on the landing to the first floor rooms and appeared to be arguing, quieting down as I approached.
She appeared to be about 50 years old, attractive in a well-groomed but matronly sort of way, while the boy looked to be about 16.
“Good Morning, ma’am,” I said, as casually as I possibly could, and kept on walking.
“Excuse me, young man, may I ask you something?” the woman spoke in a commanding voice with just a trace of a British accent, which caused me to stop immediately and turn and face her.
“Why certainly, ma’am. How can I help you?”
“My son was just saying that he would really like to learn to play golf, and I understand the course here is excellent for beginners….”
“Mother, I did NOT say that…” the boy interrupted.
“I was just wondering if you played and might be willing to teach him, Mr…”
“Kelly, ma’am.”
“Mr. Kelly, this is Edwin. Edwin, Mr. Kelly. My name is Louise Corning. I am a long time guest here.”
“Hello, Edwin, very nice to meet you.”
“Mr. Kelly, I assure you, I am not that anxious to learn to play golf. It was mother’s idea, so please don’t trouble yourself on my account. I am certain you have better things to do with your time.”
“Actually, I do have some time, and golf sounds like fun. I haven’t played a lot, but I can teach you the basics. Why don’t you reconsider?”
Before the boy could answer, his mother spoke up in that commanding tone of hers.

“Edwin, go play golf with Mr. Kelly. I will meet you in the dining room for lunch. Don’t be late.”
And that’s how I spent my first morning as a security officer at the Columbia Farm…babysitting a teenage boy. But it was a chance to play golf on the nifty little nine hole course the hotel had built a couple of years before, so how bad could it be, I thought. How bad could it be?

Bronco Kelly is helping out his old boss, Ben Knapp, owner of the Columbia Farm Hotel, by serving as security for the weekend while more than a hundred New York City cops let their hair down. A round of golf with the son of the only other guest at the hotel sounds like fun, but our hero is about to embark on another adventure. Find out more in the next edition of The Hurleyville Sentinel. Our story is fictional, and although Ben Knapp, Louise Corning and Edwin Corning are real people, no representation is made as to the accuracy of their characterizations here.