The door swung open with a groan and inside what was once a small foyer connecting to a living room, now served as a front office where a desk rested, and a plump woman reading a sleazy romance novel sat on the other side. The noise of the door was impossible to ignore and so the woman looked up at Todd and a forced but obviously unhappy smile cracked her previously focused face.
“How can I help you today?” she asked, clearly wanting to return to her book.
“Just looking for a room,” Todd said, apprehensively moving from the front door, which he closed behind him, and to the front desk.
“Okay, well, we only got two rooms left. One of ‘em is the small one. The other is the one that has the problem with the bed. So you’ll have to pick your poison.”
Todd blinked, wondering if she was kidding, but the earnestness in her eyes and the fact that she did not want to be working told him that she was clearly telling the truth.
“Which one do you recommend?” he asked.
“I’d go with the smaller one, since the bed in the other one might just kill you. Unless you got a lady friend meeting you tonight, in which case, I’d go for the bigger room, but do it on the floor or the shower and not on the bed.” She smiled after delivering her information, but then furled her brow and added, “Maybe just the floor. I wouldn’t do it in those showers.”
“I will take the smaller room.”
“Sure.” She pulled open a drawer underneath the desk and grabbed a key from it. She held the key up and said, “Do you have a credit card?”
Todd, pulling out his wallet, had very little interest in handing his information to this person, but after she took his card, she merely typed his information into her computer, handed the card and the key to Todd, and gave her usual forced smile. “Room fifteen. You can just head through the kitchen there and through the back door to get to the rooms. Don’t be too loud in your room, though. Martin Valdez is in the room next to you and he is always angry.”
Todd, simply wanting a place to be still for a while, took his card and the key and walked through the kitchen, which was clearly still being used as such, and through the back door where he found a backyard that still looked like a backyard, save for the several small house-like buildings comprising the individual rooms resting on the massive property.
Gone were the rose bushes Old Ron Davies kept, the old peach tree, and the dog house that had remained empty for years after Davies’ dog, Montesquieu, had passed away.
Yet, the images of these things came to Todd as he walked the backyard that he had not stepped foot in since his teenage years, when he hopped the fence to prove to his prom date that he could steal peaches from the tree without waking Montesquieu the dog.
He had been wrong then.