Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Friday, May 9, 2008

Before We Got Away

"There is no terror in a bang, only in the anticipation of it."
-Alfred Hitchcock

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the room at the Bed and Breakfast but the owner would not believe our insistence.
"Rose," he called to his wife down the hall. "Come here. This couple has a problem with the room."
Our collective bloodstreams ran cold.
Rose came thundering up to us.
"What's wrong with the room?" she demanded to know, speaking over our heads to her husband.
"They think something's wrong?"
Spouse and I were speechless.
"Isn't it good enough for you?"
"Nothing. Nothing is wrong. The room is fine." We were both alarmed, quite so.
"You don't have to stay here, you know," the fellow said as an afterthought.
It was late and we were physically tired. We had been mentally exhausted too until that little encounter awakened the hairs on the back of our necks. Spouse and I looked at each other and decided to stay despite the distinct chill in the air.
We locked the bedroom door; certainly we locked it that night.
Where the tension had arrived from Spouse and I had absolutely no idea. We had come to the house after booking earlier that evening over the telephone; the room was fine, we had arrived at a reasonable hour and had as such given no indication that things were not as we had hoped. There was an atmosphere, a particular feeling of having walked unwittingly into the second act of a play and of course not knowing any of the necessary lines.
In the morning Spouse and I whispered to one another that we ought to leave as soon as possible.
In Bed and Breakfasts in Ireland the dining situation requires that one sits at a large table to be served by the hostess. There are usually no other guests. I was overly cautious but after the previous night insisted that we not eat there for fear of being forced to sit through an uncomfortable repast. Awkwardness ought to be avoided at all costs.
We would pay for the inclusive breakfast so the only loss would be to us. We gathered our bags and stepped lightly into the hall.
The fellow was standing nearby.
"We'll put the breakfast on for you now," he said grimly, without a hint of life force.
It was difficult to explain to him the situation.
"We've decided to just go on," said Spouse carefully.
"We're in a bit of a hurry. We'd rather just go. We'll pay for the breakfast but we should be driving now."
"Rose. Rose!" he bellowed and in a minute Rose came up the stairs.
"This couple doesn't want breakfast. They want to leave."
"Is it my cooking? They don't think it's good enough?" Rose wailed.
I inched Spouse and myself ever so slightly down the stairs, and they followed. It was time to pay and exit.
"We woke up a little later than we planned," explained Spouse. "Otherwise we'd love to stay."
The couple glared at us, four ice chips of eyes boring through our skin.
Spouse moved to give the man his credit card. I could no longer take the tension and I stepped outside, warning Spouse with my eyes that he should not delay.
As I shook with cold in the misty morning air the front door opened. I turned, expecting my Spouse but instead found myself face to face with the woman.
"Did I do something to offend you?" she whined.
"No." I did not know what else to say. I was confused, utterly bewildered and weary of the charade. I was afraid to say anything else.
I turned away from her and the strangeness of it all.
When I looked back she had faded into the fog.
Spouse came out a few moments later.
"Get in the car," he said with an urgency in his voice I had not heard before.
"What happened?" I wished to know. I could not break the code of his expression.
"Let's just get out of here."
He took silent but long strides toward the car and I did the same.
As we clipped our seat belts on, Spouse said, "what did you say to her when you were outside?"
"I didn't say anything!" I paused.
"Wait. I said, 'no.' "
"That was all you said?"
"That was all. Why?"
"When she came back inside after talking to you, she started crying. Really crying."
It seemed that she had begun to sob and she turned to her husband and said,
"I think I'll go up to my room, to my room to cry."
He patted her and soothed her. "That's a good idea, Rose. You go to your room. I'll deal with this."
Spouse never signed a credit card receipt so hastily in all of his life. I am positive that his hands shook.
She went to her room and cried, Spouse vacated the house and the man watched from behind a curtain as we slipped into the blessed safety of the day.


Beth said...

I am laughing out loud and tears are running down my cheeks--you must have really walked into something but it sounds like by the end they were blaming you and not each other--so you did a good deed, I guess. I hope they were blissfully making up by the time your car circled back by.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Oh Beth, what a compliment. Thank you so much. I absolutely agree with you- we just stepped into something unfinished. I was really scared- I felt they were angry with us.
Now I can laugh too.

paulmerrill said...

I know you can't publish the name of the B&B, but we would certainly avoid the establishment, given the chance!

Pappy said...

You beat me to the finish line. It's not always the hare who wins. Great story. Sounds like they weren't suited for the life of Inn keeper. I'm still wondering why they thought you were dissatisfied in the beginning. I'm working on the rest of the story.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

I do believe I can hear the soundtrack for the twilight zone.... it's always so odd when one walks into a parallel universe, sounds as if you most certainly did this day!

Jess Riley said...

WOW...just...WOW! What a crazy story. But I loved reading it.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Paul, If it's any help, I just did a search and found that some time ago the house was for sale. So I guess it's changed hands since then. Otherwise I'd find a way to tell you ;) I think it would be okay. As long as they managed to sell it!

Texican, I think we sensed a strangeness from the beginning, and he then in turn sensed our discomfort. He mistook it for something wrong with the room. That's all I can think of. Keep working on your story! My mother too is waiting. No pressure ;)

Kimy, yes it was so very strange. I thought we'd keep coming back there over and over ;) Creepy in its own way.

Jess, thanks so much for coming by. Glad you liked the story! Oh, the experiences I live through for my readers... ;)

julochka said...

it was slightly reminiscent of the bates motel! you were no doubt lucky to get out of there. their last name wasn't by chance "fawlty," was it? :-) i wonder why people like that would operate a B&B? you wrote it excellently, as usual...conveying the unease with...well...ease. :-)

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

thank you. I told it from the heart ;)
"i wonder why people like that would operate a B&B?" I have no idea. I don't really think, either, that we caught them on a bad day- perhaps they were indeed in the midst of something but in general, I think one has to be an odd person to behave like that.

Jaime said...

I can see why you wanted to fast as humanly possible!

I feel so sad for that couple. It sounds as though they had isolated themselves from people so much that they didn't know how to be warm and friendly to you. Truly does make you wonder why they would be in that business...but maybe they were trying to reach out to the world by doing so...unfortunately, failing miserably!

Are you sure they weren't ghosts?

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Jaime, one would indeed wonder at their choice of enterprise.
They acted as though they had a grudge against us, and made it seem as though we had the problem.
I was scared though, but too tired to run away ;) And perhaps they are ghosts and she perpetually cries in her room and he makes the patrons sorry they showed up...hmmm...

Please look around, explore my writing, leave a crumb:
I welcome comments and thoughts.