The Walley World Resort
"Hello, Marty Moose," Kevin exhaled, staring up at the cartoon legend's smiling face atop the casino directly in front of them. It hadn't been hard to find, with its elaborate castle turrets (done in a different style from the Excalibur, he'd noted when watching it's grand opening on the Walley Channel not long back, to differentiate between the two of them) and multiple construction cranes, still building the resort ever higher and higher. "Well," he turned to the other children behind him, "Last chance to back out if you don't want to do this."
"Walley World Resort, here we come," Ethan answered the question by charging full tilt towards the front door, everyone else following him at a similar clip. Kevin rushed to keep up. "OK, but let's not make ourselves conspicuous here, guys," he caught up to them by the door, "We are technically going to commit credit card fraud with this, like I found out in New York last year..."
"My daddy will vouch for me; the rest of you can go to jail for it," Danielle snorted, "I just want a roof over my head for tonight-and I'm getting my own room. I refuse to sleep with the likes of..."
"Sorry, but we're all staying together, and that's that," Kevin glared at her, having just about had it with her haughty attitude. "Well," he grabbed for the front door, "Here we go..."
The lobby looked just as impressive as the grand opening special had made it out to seem, with the rooms designed to look like an elaborate classic European chateau. Employees dressed in fancy European-style servant uniforms with oversized powdered wigs walked around everywhere, carrying luggage. It looked like a pretty full house, Kevin thought, taking note of how much luggage was being ported about. Hopefully there was an available room for them...
He saw the hotel's phone bank around the corner. He waved everyone over to it. "Remember, Kevin, best room you can get us," Nate reminded him, his eyes eager with anticipation.
"I'll do what I can. Quiet for a moment," Kevin dug out his Talkboy. He took a deep breath and clicked the play button. "Good evening, my name is..." he quickly turned to Danielle, who mouthed, "Charles," at him. "...Charles Lindhurst," he quickly continued, "I would like to order a room for my daughter Danielle and her friends, with two bedrooms, room service, and as many amenities within the price range." He paused a minute, holding up a hand to keep everyone quiet, then added, "Credit card will be presented at check-in. Thank you, have a good night."
He hit stop and rewound the tape. "Julian, another lift," he asked his friend, who once more hoisted him up to the phone. "Nate, quarter," he took one off his other friend, dropped it in the slot, and dialed. "Quiet again," he asked everyone. "The phone buzzed to life. "Walley World Resort, Las Vegas; how may I help you?" asked the lady in the reservation department.
Kevin pressed his thumb against the tape heads and hit play again. As had been the case when he'd checked into the Plaza the previous year, his words came out slowed down and sounding much more like an adult's. "Thank you sir; you'll need cash or credit at check-in," the woman continued in the gap between Kevin's words, then was given her answer by his second sentence. Kevin hung up the phone when it was over. "That's it, we're in," he announced to everyone, who started cheering. "Danielle, credit card," he extended his hand for it.
"No," she pulled her purse away with a glare, "It's mine, and only I use it."
Kevin rolled his eyes in frustration. "All right then, come with me to check in," he took her rather roughly by the arm and led her forward towards the front counter. "And for the record, I don't really like the way you're treating all of us," he told her off.
"If you think I care what you think, McCallister, you're wrong. It's you that needs to be put in place; I demand respect for who I am, and no one's giving me that, least of all you."
Kevin came to a stop; this was just about the breaking point for him. "Have you thought for a moment, Danielle, that maybe, just maybe, you haven't given anyone here a good reason to respect you!?" he had to restrain himself from shouting.
"Well they should, if they remembered who my father is..."
"Yes, your high and mighty father. And where's he now, given he apparently had to send a servant to send you off on this trip?"
"He had an important business meeting in Singapore, for your information; Frain was more than capable to handle the task at hand to get me to the airport. And if you're insinuating my father doesn't care for me, would he have given me this," she pulled out the credit card and waved it in Kevin's face, "If he didn't!?"
Kevin decided not to fight the matter any further. There was no point, he figured, when Danielle clearly had so small a grasp on what made for good parenting. He approached the front desk with her. "Good evening," he called up. The clerk, a nerdy-looking man in thick glasses, didn't notice him at first and continued filling out paperwork. "Good evening," Kevin repeated again, louder. This made the clerk jump in shock. "Um, can I help you?" he asked, confused.
"Reservation for Lindhurst," Danielle thrust the credit card at him. "Um, I'm not sure I can accept this, missy," he asked, glancing around as if looking for an adult to accompany them, "You know it's against..."
"Listen you, that reservation was just called in, and I demand you honor it, or I'll call Daddy and have you sacked faster than...!" Danielle started ranting at him. Kevin hastily pulled her away from the desk. "Let me handle it!" he hissed at her. "Um, less angrily, sir, it was our understanding the reservation was cleared," he told the clerk politely.
"Let me see here," the clerk typed some information into his computer, "Well, I do see the Lindhurst name here for a top floor suite. But why are the two of you doing the checking in?" he glanced confusedly at Kevin and Danielle again, "Where's Mr. Charles Lindhurst?"
"Um..." Kevin thought quickly for an alibi that would sell, "Mr. Lindhurst's on business at the moment, sir. He, um, took some of Danielle's friends along with us, sort of as a special Christmas gift for all of us, and told us to go check in to the Walley World Resort."
"I see," the clerk didn't look completely convinced, but Kevin gauged by his expression he'd probably done enough to make the attempt to check in work, "Well, inform Mr. Lindhurst when he does come in he'll need to verify everything; we can't count on the word of you tykes alone, you know."
"We'll let him know the first chance we get, sir," Kevin told him, his mind racing on how he'd be able to pull this off if it came to a head. The last thing he wanted was to be chased around by hotel security again. Hopefully, he begged in his mind, they'd be able to call through to home and be out of the hotel before the staff suspected anything was amiss.
Nonetheless, he breathed a small sigh of relief as the clerk swiped the credit card through the machine. "And I guess you're set, then," he handed Kevin a room code key, then rang a bell on his desk. "Evangeline, front and center," he called across the lobby.
"Coming Mr. Murphy," a large, rotund man in the European servant-style outfit can bustling over. Kevin momentarily couldn't believe how much this bellboy was a dead ringer for Mr. Ripley up the street. "Twenty-ninth floor, Room 90," the clerk instructed him.
"You got it, chief," the bellboy nodded. "Just you two tonight?" it was his turn to look at Kevin and Danielle with a surprised reaction.
"Um...just for now. Danielle's father should be in eventually," Kevin said quickly. "There's more of us, though," he waved to the other children by the phones.
"Well, the more the merrier, especially at the Walley World Resort," the bellboy laughed warmly. "Hi there, and good evening," he greeted Kevin's classmates with a broad smile, "I'm Sidney, and I'll be your guide to your pleasant lodgings here..."
"Evangeline, you know the boss says to cut out the dog and pony routine and just do the job," the clerk was rolling his eyes.
"Oh come on, Les; I think it adds to the flavor of the job," the bellboy protested. "Well, anyway, let me take your bags here," he took them off each child, "And if you'll just follow me, we'll get all of you bunkered in for the night."
He practically skipped towards the elevators. "So, where're you all from?" he asked the children.
"Chicago. We didn't think we're be staying here, Mr. Evangeline, but it just turned out that way," Kevin told him.
"Oh please, call me Sidney. The rest of the brass may think I'm crazy, but I think it helps the experience here to keep it on a personal level with the guests. And here we are. Let's try the old express 'vator to the top floor," Sidney pressed the Up button to the nearest elevator. "And let me just say, you all chose a great time to come here," he told the children with another grin, "I guess you've seen that Walley Pictures' big release of Jorinde and Joringal starts on Christmas Eve? They're going to have the world premiere here tomorrow night with all the animators and composers and everybody here for autographs and all; word is, even Roy Walley himself's going to be here."
"Nice," Kevin was impressed; meeting Walley firsthand had long been a personal dream, "And the film looks pretty good from the previews they showed on last week's Incredible World of Walley on ABC. It looks like a nice comeback after Green Willow fell a bit short."
"I liked Green Willow," Sarah offered up a defense of the picture.
"Nah, that was their worst in a while," Julian snorted, "Too long, too boring, and they changed the ending to make it happier, right Ethan?" he turned to his friend for a boost.
"Well, I had some doubts about whether they could pull it off," Ethan admitted, "That it was too obscure a tale, and that it couldn't be drawn out to feature length. And yeah, they did lose points from changing the ending-Green Willow died for good when her tree was cut down. Still, the designs of the tree spirits was pretty good, if nothing else. Jorinde and Joringal probably will do better, coming from a more traditional source from the Grimm Brothers' collection and with more of an actual..."
"Hold that thought, my man, here we are," Sidney declared as the elevator door opened in front of them all. "All aboard for the top floor!" he declared like a conductor, pressing the button for it with a flourish. "And pretty good recollection on the source for our latest feature; you know your fairy tales," he commended Ethan.
"Thank you, sir," Ethan blushed, "I do a lot of reading, and Julian here's into such stories. There's lots more from the Grimms' collection Mr. Walley might want to try if he'd be interested down the line; Iron John would probably work well, and I think The Six Swans or The Four Skillful Brothers could have some merit."
"Well maybe we ought to have you working for Creative, little guy," Sidney gave him a thumbs-up, "Half of the meetings out in California anymore, there seems to be a whole lot of friction when it comes to film scripts."
"And you know that, how?" Nate had to ask, looking skeptical.
"Well, confidentially, I have an inside source," Sidney leaned down to his level, "My cousin Russ works security at Walley World Park; he listens in and lets me know how everything's going."
"Russ," Kevin mused, "Mr. Griswold from up the street said he ran into a security guard named Russ when he visited the park a while back. Might that be the same Russ?"
"Griswold?" Sidney's brow furled, "You know, I'll have to ask him the next chance we get; that name DOES sound a bit familiar..."
A ding signaled their arrival at their destination. "Here we are, top floor," the bellboy declared, waving them out. He turned left down the hall. "Pretty nice," Kevin admired the tasteful décor, "You know, Sidney, I'm surprised Mr. Walley did decide to go into the casino business, given how hard he works to maintain a clean image," he admitted.
"Well, as I hear it, he was opposed at first, but the board swayed him into it. In fact, from what I'm hearing, the board's getting a bit more rebellious anymore," Sidney told him, a shadow of sorts falling across his face, "A few months ago, they hired Mr. Chuck Burke from Wall Street; I guess after Green Willow's failure to meet expectations, Mr. Walley felt he needed to start over by giving someone with a better business acumen some say. Only it's Mr. Burke's gone way beyond that; he's maneuvered longtime loyalists out, and seems to be pressing for a different path than the company's been on before..."
"And since my decisions have been for the best so far, whoever you are, I don't think you should be criticizing them," came a sudden harsh voice from the open suite to their left. A stern-faced, balding man strode out into the hall, glaring at Sidney. "Oh, hi Mr. Burke," Sidney gulped, "Kids, meet Chuck Burke, new chairman of the board of Roy Walley Entertainment," he meekly introduced them to the man.
"And what are they doing around here unattended?" Burke glared Kevin and his friends down, "I don't like seeing unattended children running amok..."
"Danielle's father booked a room for us," Kevin pointed to her, "He should be in shortly."
"He'd better be. And as for you...Evangeline," Burke read Sidney's name off his tag, "Be aware there ARE consequences to questioning sound investment. I have sunk tens of millions of Mr. Walley's company's money into this casino, money that would have atrophied if used otherwise, and it's returned a brilliant investment despite the old man's poor judgment. So if you value your job, you'd better respect the opinions of your superiors."
He slammed his suite's door shut and stormed up the hall. "As you can see, not the nicest guy in the world," Sidney pointed out the obvious to the children once Burke was out of earshot, "And since Mr. Walley sent him here to make sure the premiere goes well, you'll unfortunately be seeing more of them. But, anyway," his expression brightened again, "Looks like we're right here by your room anyway."
He took the key from Kevin and stuck it into the lock of the room two doors down from Burke. Kevin was equally impressed by what was to be their room; as requested, there were two separate bedrooms, and a large spa in the bathroom, not to mention one very large refrigerator. "This is a suite..." he declared, considering it even superior to the Plaza's best offerings.
"Look at these beds!" impressed himself, Julian ran to the nearest one and started jumping up and down on it, followed moments later by Ethan. "Yep, they are pretty good," Sidney smiled at them. "Well, there is the room service button over there on the wall if you need anything," he told the other children, pointing at it, "One special feature we've added at this time of year is holidays specials on demand; any special at all, just type it into the TV, and you can watch it free of charge. Plus, we have screenings of Marty's Christmas Carol on a loop down in the main restaurant any time you want to check that out."
"We'll keep that in mind, Sidney...careful there!" Kevin's call to his friends on the bed came too late, for Julian and Ethan had gotten too carrying away with running around on the bed and abruptly smacked into each other, toppling to the mattress. "Everyone OK?" Sidney rushed over to check on them, "Yep, you're fine, I can see. Well, since it's quarter after ten now," he checked the clock on the nightstand, "If you're interested, our special holiday nighttime parade starts in fifteen minutes down in the courtyard, followed by the fireworks at eleven. Unfortunately, the pool just closed, but it should be open at nine thirty tomorrow morning. Any other questions?"
"Not really. And thank you for all your help," Kevin commended him.
"Hey, helping others is the Walley Way, and I'm glad to be a disciple of the dictum. If you need anything else, just ring the front desk and ask for me. Have a good night, and enjoy your stay at the Walley World Resort," Sidney gave them all a parting smile before setting their bags on the floor and walking out. Kevin breathed a sigh of relief when the door closed. "We did it," he mumbled softly; now that they were officially booked in, he felt more at ease.
"Look at this view!" Nate was utterly impressed, staring out the window. And Kevin had to agree; the birds-eye view from the top floor was breathtaking-highlighted by the Mirage's volcano erupting up the street at the moment, and the Belagio's fountains putting on another water show. "This probably was the best we could do for the night," he agreed. "But understand, everyone," he turned back to his classmates, "We are going to have to call home soon and let our families know where we are."
"Later, Kevin, much later," Nate was still in glee as he swan-dove onto the other bed in this particular room, "Yes, yes, this is the life!" he exclaimed happily, pretending to breaststroke on the bed.
"I'm serious, guys; we're just spending tonight here..."
"Let's hurry; we'll miss the parade," Julian, despite his mishap with Ethan, was also on cloud nine. "And relax, Kevin," he took him by the hand and dragged him out the door, "We have all the time in the word for that. You only live once, so let's enjoy what we've got here."
"Well I...I..." Kevin thought of what to say, then shrugged. After all, part of him did want to enjoy the time they did have at the resort. "Maybe I am pushing to end this too soon," he thought to himself as he was dragged towards the elevators again, "Maybe I should just relax and enjoy all this..."