High Spirits

The Washwater Hotel: Chapter 8
Tuesday Morning

Brian had accepted the food delivery from the previous day: some of the same frozen fare, as well as the necessities he would be using to create his menu for the week. The delivery man had stacked the front of the walk-in full, leave the state of the fridge and freezer hopefully abhorrent of code. That previous Sunday, he had spent cleaning the front of the kitchen to a sparkling shine, but he had yet to even peer into the deep reaches of the shelves in the cold storage.

Horatio had sneaked into the kitchen, both to bring the room service plates in from upstairs, and to hopefully catch a look of the new cook. Brian had just stepped in from the side of the building where he had been recycling the empty cardboard boxes from what he was able to clean out of the freezer. Horatio fixed eyes upon him while still holding the cart of dishes, immobile.

“Uh, hello-” Brian said, hoping to avoid much more contact. “Uh, just place those by the sink. I can handle putting them in the washer.”

Horatio nodded and continued forward with the cart, ramming it loudly into the counter while his eyes were still diverted. Brian rushed forward and took the cart from the small fellow’s hands and straightened the stack of plates from atop it.

“You cook.” Horatio mumbled, his lips pursed intently.

Brian sighed and knelt down before the hotel’s helper. He placed his finger before his own lips. “It seems I can’t get anything past you, little man.”

Horatio nodded intently and pointed his finger upward, suggesting his room upstairs. “On television.”

Brian smirked and forced his eyes to wander. “Yes, I’m that guy you’ve seen on TV. Listen here-” he said gently, placing his hand on Horatio’s shoulder. “You can’t tell anyone I’m here. My producers are probably frantically trying to search me out, but there’s no way I’m going back. Way too much pressure. I… I think I like it here. It’s rather cathartic.”

Horatio’s nodded increased in frequency, noting his understanding.

Brian stood back up and looked about. “Good man. You… like cooking and stuff? Maybe we can work through a few recipes together.”

Horatio looked up and smiled a toothy grin. He put his finger up to his lips in thought, when a loud call came out from the front of the house. “HORATIO.”

“That’s Mr. Wash, isn’t it?” Brian perked up. The diminutive fellow frowned and began to trudge out on his way to the lobby. “Hey-” Brian called out after him. “Remember- you and me. Whenever you’re free.”

Horatio nodded back and then pranced out through the kitchen’s swinging doors, a fresh spring in his step.

In the back office upon the first floor of the hotel, Obidiah had just finished punching in numbers to the calculator for the expense report. “Well,” he said to himself, “we won’t be too much in the red this month. The new cook’s pay will be balanced out by Mr. Narrows taking up the room upstairs. Hmm, I’ll have to consider, though, any additional expenses

if Brian includes something extravagant for his new menu…”

Why do we need something extravagant? Nobody comes here for the food!

“Good point, Venicia, I guess.” Obidiah hummed. Despite their differences, including the fundamental ethereal distance between them, Obidiah and his late wife got along very nicely.

Oh, now my points are good, when you can’t help but listen to them.
“Well-” Obidiah drummed his fingers on the desk. “Perhaps we could allow non-guests to come and dine with us. Advertise in the paper that our dining room is open to the public, and that we have a new, fresh menu.”

And get more dirty, filthy footprints through the lobby.

“Ah, well if that were the case, Heather may have a bit of a harder time. We would have to hire another part timer.”

You just like that young girl and her big-

The bell at the front desk rang with an excited reverberation. Obidiah stood and adjusted his vest around his stomach and calmly walked out to greet the guest.

The older woman was of the prematurely silver-haired sort, and wore a thin jacket of patch-like nature. She stood up straight at Obidiah came out of the back. “Good day.”

“And the same to you. I pardon the wait.” Obidiah bowed his head. “Are we checking in today?”

“No, it was no wait at all.” She shook her head and took a tentative look up and down around the lobby. “Yes, I’m looking to stay here a few nights. Do I have such a chance at a room in such a nice place at such short notice?”

Obidiah cleared his throat and pulled out his ledger.

Of course, you old bag. God, lay on the pleasantries some more.

The older woman’s eyes lit up, and she made eye contact with Obidiah. “Excuse me?” She mumbled.

Obidiah looked up, blinking at the woman. “I… did not say a word, ma’am. Uh, well, I do have several available rooms. Do you have a preference of the front or rear of the hotel? Oh, and your name, please.”

The hopeful guest leaned more comfortably on the counter, her hands crossed over each other. “My name is Sarah. Sarah Seer. S-e-e-r. I suppose I would like to see the town, on a lower floor if possible.” She hummed contently, staring at Obidiah. “Such a nice uniform you have, looking so handsome and proper. You wouldn’t perhaps be Mr. Wash himself?”

“The one and only.” Obidiah nodded, his cheeks warm. “I can put you on the second floor, room 205. It’s not our most extravagant room, but-”

“It sounds just fine.” Sarah said, fluttering her eyelashes.

Obidiah nodded and turned around to grab the key just from behind. As he swiveled back around to turn it over the counter, Sarah’s touch met with the back of his hand. Her fingers traveled down his, and then to the key. “Thank you, love.”

Obidiah cleared his throat. “Of… course. I shall have someone help you up with your luggage. HORATIO-”

Sarah tugged the strap her singular bag off the floor and presented it up. “Oh, that won’t be necessary. Though, I assume the phone is always available to call should I want to ask about the other amenities, dinner and such?”

Obidiah swallowed hard. “Of course.”

Sarah smiled and began to stroll up the stairs, giving Mr. Wash one last look. He finished writing down the details in his ledger before shutting it closed and stowing it away.

Well, look at who is feeling quite sure of himself.

“Just some talk to get some free extras thrown in, I’m sure.”

You seemed to like it.

“Nonsense.” Obidiah huffed. “But… did it seem like she noticed… I don’t know…”
What are you talking about now?

A low grunting revealed Horatio poking his head over the gate beside the desk. “Oh, Horatio. I’m sorry I called you out.” Obidiah apologized. “The guest managed on their own. You were helping bring dishes to the kitchen, weren’t you? Could you get up to dusting the banisters?”

Sarah smirked and repeated the words to herself as she unlocked the door to her room, knowing that she had come to the correct place.

Two Weeks Previous

Sarah picked up the phone to dial the number she had circled in the travel guide. She waited patiently as the dial tone rang out and connected her to the person across the line. “Hello, you’ve reached Henry Tucket with Bluewater’s City Council. How many I help you today?”

Sarah cleared her throat. “Why hello there!” She said hopefully. “I was looking into your area in this guide book I have here. I wanted to ask about the hotel in town, actually.”
Henry took an apprehensive breath and paused. “Ah, the Washwater-”

“That’s it! I just love old hotels.”

“Hum-” Henry sighed once again. “While the hotel is in quite the location in our precious little town here, it is my personal opinion that the Washwater be avoided for the time being. I can recommend, up the coast just a few miles-”

“Oh, is there something wrong with the Washwater?” Sarah asked dejectedly.

“Personally, I’m interested in… peculiar locations. It doesn’t happen to be an issue of the… supernatural kind?”

“Supernatural-?” Henry postured. “No, it has simply a bit of a structural mishap-”

“I promise you I’m not in this to make gossip for a tabloid article, but there was news a while back that a certain person of interest died in the Washwater.”

“Well, it is your decision, ma’am, if you wish to stay at the Washwater or not.” Henry replied. “But, if you are assuming something like a ghost or something, you may be disappointed.”

“Well, we’ll just have to see then. Goodbye, and thank you, sir.”

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