Am I Blue

The Caesar's Palace maid knocked, but there was no answer. She used her key to open the door.

"Hello? Anyone in here?" she called. There was no answer, so she entered the room with towels piled so high in her arms that she could not see over them. This was not usually a problem. She was familiar with the layout of every room. Besides, if someone was in the room, innocently naked or curled up with a hooker, she would prefer not to see it. "Just going to put these towels in the bathroom," she said, still talking as an insurance policy in case someone was in the room. Balancing the towels with one hand for an instant, she opened the bathroom door and went in. She had felt something wrapped around the stem of the door knob. It was hard like a shirt hanger, but thinner and unmoving. She could not see what it was, so she ignored it for the moment. Moving with practiced speed and efficiency, she nested the fresh towels on their racks and gathered the used towels. Damp, they were draped low and loosely in her arms. She would let herself take in the room on the way out, whatever might greet her eyes. Less worried now that there might be someone in the room, she pushed the door open with her foot and was immediately greeted with a sight that made her let out a scream.

A man's body lay on the bed between her and the window drapes. He was staring glassily at the ceiling. Even more frighteningly, his skin was mostly green, even though his face seemed rather blue. There was a long wire around his neck with one end wrapped around the doorknob to the bathroom and the other tied to the TV remote on the night table between the bed and the drapes.

"Yeah," said Warrick Brown, examining the night table. "Nothing in these hotel rooms is ever as securely nailed down as the TV remote."

"It's bolted down," Gil Grissom corrected him as he watched Catherine Willows dust the doorknob for prints. The bathroom door was half way open. With his eyes, he followed the wire from the knob to the victim's neck, then to the remote.

"Do you mind?" asked Willows, not bothering to turn her head toward him. "You're blocking my light."

"Actually," said Grissom, "it might be worth noting that although the vic was paying for the light, the killer left it on, and now it's the hotel's."

"That was inconsiderate of the killer," said Nick Stokes from underneath the victim's bed.

"I wouldn't cry too much. The casino can afford the electricity," said Warrick Brown.

"Not simply inconsiderate," Grissom answered Nick. "I'm not sure why he did it, but I think the lights were deliberately left on."

"Finding any suspicious dust bunnies, Nick?" asked Sara Sidle. Wearing latex gloves, she was going through the victim's luggage.

"No, the staff at Caesar's Palace actually cleans under the bed," replied Nick. He paused before adding, "Not sure that makes for much of an advertisement."

Captain Jim Brass walked into the room and peered at Lorne curiously, but he was careful not to step too close to the bed for fear of disturbing evidence. "What do you make of the green skin?" he asked.

Grissom turned and studied Lorne carefully. "Warrick, when you have a moment, take an epithelial sample from the vic and rush it over to Nellis. Ask for Colonel McNutt, and see that you hand it to him personally."

"Will do."

"So, you think he's an alien?" asked Brass.

"Alien? Hah. There are no aliens, Jim."

"Then what do you make of this foreign passport?" asked Sara.

The passport showed a smiling, green-faced Lorne. Grissom squinted at it and began working his mouth silently. Finally he sighed and said, "I can't pronounce the name on this passport."

Brass said, "The hotel register says that the occupant was named Lorne, no last name, like Cher."

"That's almost poetic coming from you, Brass," said Sara. "I mean, adding the reference to Cher."

"No," said Brass. "On the hotel's register it says—and I quote: 'Room 502, Lorne—No Last Name, Like Cher'."

"Interesting." Grissom stroked his chin. Then he said, "Watch out Catherine." Willows sat back on her heels as Grissom closed the door to the bathroom. As the wire became taut, Lorne's body sat up in bed.

"Was the door to the bathroom closed?" asked Grissom.

Willows answered, "The maid discovered the body, and, yes, she admitted to opening the bathroom door."

"Don't ask," said Brass. "It's screwy, but I believe she didn't see the body before she opened it."

Later that day, Grissom responded to an urgent pager message from Dr. Al Robbins.

"Don't tell me. It's the Lorne case," said Grissom, swinging open the door to the morgue. "What did you get from the autopsy?"

"Well, you see the wire on the table?"

"Yes, that's the wire used to strangle the vic, but… where's the body? Did some military types come and take him."

"Military? No, were you expecting them?"

"No, never mind," said Grissom. "What happened as far as you know?"

"I'm not sure. I unwrapped the wire from around the victim's neck, I turned around to get my scalpel, and when I turned back, he was gone."

"Gone? Where did he go?"

"All I know," said Robbins, "is when I looked around, the door was still swinging back and forth as if someone had just left in a hurry."

"Is there anything else that you can tell me?" asked Grissom.

"Just that my camel hair overcoat and identification badge are missing. Where are you going?"

"To check the video from the camera trained on people leaving the building!" Grissom called as he raced out of the room. The door swung back and forth after he left.