"My name is Jan Weaver," I tell the investigator for the millionth time. He does not believe me. He keeps asking things like "What happened to Jan?” and “When was the last time you saw Jan Weaver?” I keep telling him I AM Jan Weaver. But he still doesn’t believe me. Now they are calling me a suspect. Of what? I just want to help find the missing girl. They won’t let me go, and they keep asking what happened to Jan Weaver – me.
It was always my life dream to run an Inn, or a small hotel, or even a bed and breakfast. When I was young and working at the Lobell hotel in Jefferson Colorado, I always daydreamed about how I would run my own place, as soon as I had enough saved up. The other housekeepers would tease me and say “You LIKE this? You WANT to be responsible for peoples’ crap? They don’t even tip when they vomit on the floor!?” and I would humbly reply “I like helping people have their special moments. Not all of them are bad. Like Mrs. Dinehart who leaves us homemade cookies when she visits her daughter for Christmas. I want to help people like her enjoy their lives.” And the other housekeepers would roll their eyes and keep working. I was a housekeeper through high school. When I graduated the manager gifted me a promotion to head of housekeeping. After a couple years I learned how to run the front desk and worked the dining room a few mornings a week. I covered the night audit when needed. I did everything I could to learn as much about the ins and outs of hotel management. I dreamed and stashed money away. I always knew I wanted my place to be secluded, a quiet getaway, or a port in the storm for travelers. When I was 25, I got married to Chris, and as a gift, I was promoted to assistant manager.
One summer my husband and I went on a small getaway, just across the state. It was our 5-year anniversary. We toted Marley, our 6-year-old, with us. As we were driving, I saw it. My Inn. It was big, but not too big. It had a wrap-around porch with big pillars and a beautiful balcony on the front. I could see a little girl looking over the railing, waving at all the cars. It was in the middle of nowhere, almost wedged between two mountains. And it had a for sale sign. Chris had always known about my dream of owning my own Inn someday, but he never thought I was serious about it. I always told him how much I had saved, and how I hoped I could start up soon. And he would always say something along the lines of “You could always use the money to retire, buying a hotel may not happen.” Or “Maybe someday after Marley is in college and we’re both retired” But I didn’t want to wait that long. I didn’t want to wait until I was too old to run the place myself. When I saw the Inn for sale, I pulled over.
“What are you doing?” He asked, “This isn’t it; we still have 20 miles to go.”
“Look!” I pointed “It’s perfect.”
“Is it the white house mama??” Marley asked.
“No, this could be our inn,” I said softly.
“What?!? No! We haven’t talked about this. We’re not buying an Inn today. I can’t believe you!” Chris was not happy.
“I don’t think we’re going TODAY. I just want to ask about it. It could be my place.” I told him as I was getting out of the car.
“You never told me you were buying a hotel! We need to talk about this first.” He was starting to shout.
Marley had gotten out of the car and was standing next to me. “Look SWINGS!” Swings were her favorite.
“Chris I’ve been talking about doing this for as long as I can remember. You just didn’t believe me, or maybe you just weren’t listening.” I turned to walk away. “I’m going to see what their asking price is, and maybe look around if they’ll let me. You can come with me if you want or can wait out here.” Chris didn’t move.
“I’m coming with you!” Marley is always down for adventures. We went in and it was beautiful. Well maintained. The staff was polite. And the asking price was shockingly below market.
“Why is the price so low?” I asked Mr. Montgomery the manager and owner. “Is this the hotel from The Shining?” I joked. He didn’t smile.
“Actually, I have to tell you, there is a lot of weird stuff that happens here. The place is gorgeous, and business is great, but I’m ready to retire. I don’t want to sell it to some rich smug. Too many kind spirits reside here. I’d rather sell at a low cost, so the buyer thinks they’re taking a risk…. I probably shouldn’t have told you that. And now you probably think I’m a nut.”
I told him I would need to talk to my husband about it, and I would need to contact my bank to make everything official and I would be in touch. I just knew this was the right place for me. We went outside and I was excited to give Chris all of the details. I really thought he was going to learn to like the place. But he was…gone. He had left us there. I tried his cell with no luck. I just got a simple text “Enjoy your hotel. I can’t deal with your impulsiveness anymore. If you want to make stupid choices, do it alone. Keep Marley, I don’t even think she’s mine.”
No more than 6 months later I was happily divorced with my own Inn and I was making happy moments with Marley from then forward. We lived in the largest room of the inn, it had two small rooms, a kitchenette, and a bathroom. It was perfect for us. Marley got to play on the swings as much as she liked.
Mr. Montgomery wasn’t wrong when he said weird stuff happened at the hotel. Things went missing or got moved. There were phantom voices in the middle of winter when the hotel was empty. I chalked it up to it being an old hotel which would naturally be a little bit haunted. Most of the time things were friendly. Lost something? It would appear. Cold? The thermostat would go up. But sometimes I heard my name being called down the dark hallway. That I didn’t trust.
Overall, it was the Inn of my dreams. We had regulars that came every year, or sometimes two or three times a year. We had people who had never been to Colorado and found the Inn randomly. We hosted weddings and parties. We were a port in the storm for people who had lost their way and needed a place to stay for the night. We helped a lot of lost people. An unusual amount of lost people. “It's like the Bermuda triangle” Marley once said, “Except we find people, we don’t get them lost.” And it was true. We were praised for being a saving grace on many occasions.
This last incident was different though. We did not save her. We lost her. And now the damn investigators wouldn’t let me go. After 20 years I know this area and this wilderness better than anyone! I should be out there looking for her! I tell them this and all they can say is “What happened to Jan Weaver?” and “Who are you? What’s your name?” I AM JAN WEAVER.
Monday morning Marley called me from her house in town. “Mom, what’s going on up there? The news said someone staying at the hotel is missing??”
“WHAT?” No one had told me a thing. No one had asked me anything, nothing.
“Who is this?” Marley asked. The line cut out before I could answer.
I went from my office to the front desk just as the officers were walking in.
“Can I help you? What is going on?” I asked them.
“We need to speak to the Manager of the hotel. A little girl who was staying here last night has been reported missing by her mother.”
“I am the manager” They looked at me perplexed.
“They asked me what room the family had been staying in and said they needed to look around.” I looked up the information they needed and showed them to the family’s room.
As I was walking them down the hallway, I remembered the dream I had the night before. I was hurt, and the little girl, the same one who had been waving at the cars that the first day at the hotel, was helping me. She was telling me I’d be okay. I didn’t even remember her until then.
“Can I have a picture of the girl? So, I can make copies and show them to other guests?”
“Sure,” said one officer. He pulled out a photo. “This is their family portr….” He stopped mid-word. “I thought said you were the hotel manager?” He asked.
“Then how is this a picture of you??” He asked.
I looked at the photo. I wasn’t in it. “It’s not. That’s the family that’s staying here. I’m Jan Weaver.” I took out my ID to show him. Both officers looked bewildered.
“Sir, I think we’re going to need to take you to the station for questioning.”
“Sir? I’m a woman.” I said gesturing to my body. And that’s when I realized I wasn’t wearing my clothes. And the girl in the photo was the same girl from that first day, but how was that possible?? She would be Marley’s age by now. What in the Shining Freaky Friday is happening? And why does my head hurt so goddamn much?
After hours of interrogation, I remember I hit my head. But how? And then I remember it wasn’t a dream. The little girl was calling for help from down the hallway. I went to check it out. He was trying to take her. I tried to stop him, but he hit me on the head, hard. I still fought him, and I carried her out to the balcony. I pushed him off when he chased after us. But why am I wearing his clothes? Where is he? Why are they asking where Jan Weaver is and not where he is? Did we get switched somehow? But how?
Never mind that I tell myself. “Check the balcony. I think I hit my head, but I think the girl is on the balcony.” And she was, and apparently so was I.
A week later I woke up in the hospital as Jan Weaver again. I’ll never understand what happened. A few months later Mr. Montgomery’s daughter stopped by the Inn and said nothing more than “You learned why my father sold the place, the same thing happened to him.” And she walked out.