(Sandy (aka Dusty Duck) started a story on her art blog; she has passed it on to me. The first three parts can be found here, here, and here.)
I could feel my adrenenaline building as I stood in the dark, dusty and deserted lobby.
Oh gawd, what have I gotten myself into now.
I knew there wouldn't be an answer, mainly because I didn't have one. Yet.
The edges of the room began to darken as the sun drooped behind the trees. I could hear shuffling sounds on the porch coming closer, becoming louder. The screen door creaked in protest as it was slowly opened. In shuffled three of the oddest people I have ever seen in person. They looked like they just came from the movie Deliverance.
I heard myself gasp internally.
"Oh. Hello. I didn't know anybody was here. Welcome to the River Rat Motel. I'm Larry. This is my brother Daryl, and my other brother Daryl."
OHMYGAWD... I'M IN A NEWHART NIGHTMARE!!
"ah... a.. hello. My name is... its Suzie Q."
(What? Do you think I'm really going to give them my name?)
"Are you from Princeton?" Larry asked suspiciously.
"Oh... no reason I guess. My brother Daryl applied for admission a couple of years ago and we never heard nuthin. I was just awonderin."
I just stood there dumbfounded. I'm sure my mouth was open. I couldn't seem to process that piece of information.
Finally Larry shuffled behind the counter. "May I help you?" he said stiffly.
This is where I should have said no and left, but it was getting dark and scary out there. It was dark and scary inside, too. This is called a dilemma.
"ah... I'm not sure. I was thinking about a room for the night, but..."
Larry didn't wait. "Let me see if we have something available."
There was a small puff of dust as he turned the page of the register. "You're in luck. Our best suite is available. Would you like to register now?"
"Would you mind terribly if I checked the suite out first before I made up my mind?"
It was Larry's turn to look a little dumbfounded and that wasn't easy.
"Of course. Daryl, would you take Ms. Que up to room 13, please."
I turned quickly to see which brother it was going to be. The one sitting at the table got up and shuffled towards the stairs. Don't they know how to pick up their feet?!
I followed but kept a safe distance behind him. I wondered if I should ask him if he was the one who applied to Princeton, but I didn't want to start a conversation. I wasn't sure if he could maintain one. I wasn't sure if I could, either.
We turned to the right at the top of the stairs and stopped in front of a door. The "suite" was apparently right over the lobby. Daryl opened the door and switched on the lights.
No... really, my mind said W. T. F. when I saw the room. I clearly spend way too much time on the pc and texting. Texting!!!! Ohmygawd, did I have my cell phone with me? I wanted to pat my pockets to see but I didn't want to give Daryl any ideas. I mean I didn't know one Daryl from another, know what I mean. But the room.... the room was lovely.
"WTF?!!" I repeated.
"Huh?" mumbled Daryl.
"a...nothing. This room is lovely" I said in total disbelief.
It looked clean, and light, and..... and useable. It was so incongruous I struggled to wrap my mind around it. The screen protected windows were open and a gentle breeze fluttered the white lace curtains. A french door lead to the balcony and beyond was a breathtaking view of the river even though it was getting dark.
I went over to the bed and turned down the covers. The blanket and sheets looked new and unused. The pillows looked puffy and full. There was a subtle fragrance of rose petals in the room. I felt myself relax a little.
I turned to Daryl who still stood in the doorway as though he was not allowed to come in.
"How much is it a night?"
Without missing a beat, Daryl replied "$39.00. That includes a voucher for dinner and drinks at the Grill next door and a continental breakfast in the lobby tomorrow morning."
I blinked. Then I blinked again. Was I going insane?
"Okay, I'll take the room for the night."