THE WYCHERLY WOMAN                  Part Seven



                   Archer Has Had Enough of the High Life, and Tire Irons


When he comes to, his head is bleeding but, surprisingly, his gun is still in its holster.  The management gives him a towel and informs him that “Miss Smith” has checked out, but that’s the extent of their cooperation.  Archer concludes, correctly, that their silence has been bought, probably by whoever hit him with the tire iron.

Archer decides to backtrack and try his luck back at the Champion Hotel. It’s not much of a lead but the second time is the charm, sort of.

  • The bellhop sees Archer and insists that the hotel doctor be called, even though Archer’s status as a registered guest is something of a technicality. But the chance to meet the hotel doctor is an unexpected bonus. While the doctor is treating Archer’s cut, the doctor chatters about Mrs. Wycherly.  HIPPA was a long time in the future and doctor-patient confidentiality would just get in the way of the plot.
  • The doctor had been called to treat Mrs. Wycherly several days ago, at the request of the manager. She refused to let the doctor examine her so he could come to no conclusions. But he said she was eating constantly—enough for two—ordering from the hotel restaurant and then ordering high calorie foods at night. She was drinking, but her eating was her main problem. The doctor was puzzled–alcoholics are typically not overeaters.
  • Archer speculated that someone could have been in the room but the doctor cannot say.
  • The bellhop confirms that Mrs. Wycherly was ordering steaks every night, with double orders of fries, and that the plates left outside were always clean. And if there was somebody in the room, the bellhop never saw anyone.
  • Once again, Archer—back to masquerading as Mr. Wycherly—shows the bellhop Phoebe’s photo and again the bellhop says that the woman in the room wasn’t her.
  • Then things get more mysterious. He talks to the Hispanic maid, who says she heard Mrs. Wycherly crying alone in her room at night.  The maid’s theory is that she was eating so much to appease the spirits of the dead. Through the door, she heard Mrs. Wycherly speaking to herself about death and murder and blood.
  • Archer shows her Phoebe’s photo and the maid says she might have seen her somewhere before, but the woman is definitely not Mrs. Wycherly.
  • Archer, still pretending to be Mr. Wycherly, next tries the hotel manager, who expressed his surprise that a woman like her would stay at his hotel. When Archer suggests she might have been short of money, the manager disagrees. She cashed one of her monthly alimony checks for $3,000 and settled her bill up through New Years Day.  The manager saw the check himself.
  • The manager provides some further details on her stay. She arrived at the end of December and stayed in her room the entire time. When she finally left she looked like she had been through an ordeal—his words were that she looked ten years older.
  • There is no suggestion that anyone else was in the room.
  • The manager doesn’t recognize Phoebe’s photograph either, but he gives his sympathies that Archer will find his daughter safe.


As Archer leaves to return to San Francisco, he reflects that the more he continues his deception, the more reality it takes on.


A repeated lie can do strange things to the mind.  What you say often enough becomes a provisional truth.  I caught myself half-believing that Phoebe was my daughter. If she was dead, I would share Wycherly’s loss.  I already shared his feelings about his wife.





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