Thursday, September 10, 2015

Story 99: Sojourn to the Countryside

            “And here are your rooms,” the woman of the house-turned-bed-and-breakfast said as she led Family of Four up the stairs.  These people reeked of city, she thought, but seemed nice enough.
            “Ooh,” Family of Four said in unison after the owner unlocked the door to what formerly had been her and husband’s bedroom, rest his soul.  He would have expired a second time if he knew that strangers would be tromping regularly through his sanctum sanctorum, she knew – she also knew that money was money.
            “You can have the main bed, Mom and Dad,” the owner continued, leading them past the renovated bathroom and the newly installed entertainment center.  “You, miss,” she said to Daughter, “can have the spare bedroom.”  She pointed to the twin bed in what used to be a walk-in closet.  “And you, young master,” she guided Son to a large alcove with a daybed and a door to the attic stairs, “you can have the haunted bedroom.”  The little girl ghost wearing 1800s farm clothing and sitting on the daybed gave Son a wave.
            “Oh, man,” he groaned.  “I always get the haunted bedroom!”

            *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *         

            “On your right, you can see the miles and miles of cabbage that this area is famous for,” the tour guide said, directing the attention of everyone on the bus over to the fields ripe for harvesting.
            “Almost makes you want to reach out and grab one,” Mom joked to Dad.
            “If you did, I think the dog would kill you,” Dad replied.  The dog that had been barking after the bus for five miles showed no sign of letting up or slowing down.
            “Any questions so far?”  The tour guide asked.  Daughter raised her hand.  “Yes?”
            “Do they have to pick up all those cabbages one at a time?”
            Adult chuckles at kids’ darnedest questions rumbled through the passengers.
            “They had to way back when, but not anymore,” the tour guide answered.  “Today, there are machines that gather all the plants and everything’s sorted out later.  In fact, we may be able to see one – yes, there it is!”  She pointed towards a farm up ahead.  The bus slowed so everyone could see the cabbage plants being sucked in and debris being blown out of a very large harvester.  The farmer operating it looked over at the bus.
            “Wanna lend a hand with this?  I’m just about to pass out!”  He yelled at the group.  As the bus drove off, they could hear him say: “None of the cabbage sold around here is local!”
            “Who wants to go shopping?”  The tour guide asked this very loudly.  All of the adult women and two of the men raised their hands – everyone else, including the bus driver, slumped in their seats.

            *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *           *        

            Having circled the local artisans’ shops for the second time, Family of Four wanted to call it quits but it was not time yet for the bus to depart with all souls aboard.  Daughter and Son’s attention soon was captured by a little barnyard off the main path while Mom and Dad followed them close behind: there were a few sheep and some chickens wandering aimlessly around the enclosed area.  While the children stood at the fence gazing at the animals, a parrot perched on a nearby tree spoke.
            “It’s rude to stare,” it said.
            “Ooh, it spoke!”  Son said, pointing to the bird.
            “It’s rude to point,” the parrot said; Son lowered his hand.  “They don’t like you,” the parrot added.
            “What?”  Daughter asked.
            “They don’t like you,” the parrot repeated.  “They only want you to feed them.  If you keep standing there, they will charge at you.”
            The children turned back to the barnyard; all the sheep and chickens had stopped whatever they had been doing and now were staring at the two children.
            “All right, kids, let’s go back to the bus,” Dad said as he herded the family over to the shopping center.  Looking over his shoulder, he saw a sheep lick its lips.

            *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *        

            In the bed-and-breakfast that night, Family of Four tried to sleep with the howling wind and the driving rain bombarding the house.  For a moment, Mom saw a tornado funnel form in the distance before dissipating; during its brief life, it had begun to head their way.
            Son huddled in his daybed when he heard a “Thump!” above him.  Freezing in place, he then turned to the little girl ghost, who shrugged with an “I dunno” look on her face.
            “Mom!  Dad!  Someone in the attic’s trying to kill us!”  Son suggested.
            “Let me see now,” Dad said; he was obligated to walk into danger while Mom stayed behind to guard the offspring.  Dad took out a flashlight and broke the lock to the attic door, figuring that the damage was a small price to pay in case there really was a prowler up there.  After climbing the stairs, he glanced around a bit and mainly could only find some old quilts, discarded cable lines, and an Elvis Presley impersonation kit.  He started to descend when another “Thump!” made him turn around sharply.  His flashlight revealed the owner of the bed-and-breakfast, sitting in a rocking chair facing the attic window; he earlier had mistaken her silhouetted form for a lumpy scarecrow.  As he watched, she dribbled a basketball, making the “Thump!” sound again.  Dad slowly backed down the stairs, never taking his eyes off of her, and secured the door as best he could.
            “What was it?”  Mom asked; Son, Daughter, and the little girl ghost were huddled around her on the bed.
            “The owner was just dribbling a basketball in the attic,” Dad answered.
            “Oh good,” Mom said.  “OK, kids, back to bed!”  The little girl ghost complained the loudest of the three.

            *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          

            Family of Four checked out of the bed-and-breakfast that morning, finding it hard to look the owner in the eye so that Dad forgot to give her extra money for the broken lock.  She watched them leave, relieved that she was alone once more and glad to continue assuming that no one could get into the attic – her one method of soothing herself during thunderstorms had the potential to freak some people out, she knew.
            As Family of Four drove out of town to return to their mundane lives, they passed a sign on the road reading:
            “Thank you for visiting our town – you really have never experienced anything quite like it.”


  1. I've been on vacation to places like the above. The story brought back some fond memories; very funny too.

  2. I've been on vacation to places like the above. The story brought back some fond memories; very funny too.

  3. I've been on vacation to places like the above. The story brought back some fond memories; very funny too.

  4. Thanks, and glad the memories were good ones! :-)