As you'll recall in last week's episode of Trapped in Time II, Shaughnessey convinced the sheriff that Doll and the others are part of his troupe, then offered them room in the hotel. Can things get any worse for Doll? Read this week's chapter and find out! Then go see what the other Briefers have been doing! Their links follow my tale. Enjoy!
Trapped in Time II: Chapter 9
If I had expected the inside of this hotel to be any more presentable than the outside, than I would have to say I am disappointed by what I see once we are herded inside. I am under no such illusion, however, and am not surprised by what I see, considering the time and place in which we find ourselves. As well as the company. And yes, by that I do mean Shaughnessey. And I still dislike him immensely, a feeling which has not lessened any since he pronounced us to the sheriff as being part of his acting troupe. But for now I am helpless to do other than go along with the charade, in order to allow me the freedom to search for my Vittorio.
Such is the power of love. Under its influence we do things that otherwise would not merit our consideration. But I would do anything for Vittorio, including this. So be it. At least for now.
We’ve entered the hotel in two groups. The actors follow Shaughnessey, while the rest of us stay close to Vati. We stand uncertainly in what must be the lobby, looking about us. The walls are covered with a gaudy yellow and orange striped wallpaper that does nothing to hide an assortment of mysterious stains that dot the surface. Through an open doorway, I spy what I take to be the dining area—for I get a glimpse of tables and chairs, and I hear the rattle of silverware, perhaps in anticipation of the dinner hour.
I detect an odor of cooked meat. My stomach starts to grumble, a reminder that it has been a while since we have eaten. I attempt to ignore it for there is nothing I can do to remedy the situation at the moment, as I continue to take in our surroundings.
A long wooden counter sits within an alcove, beneath a staircase that winds up to the second floor. I assume this to be the front desk, an idea which is confirmed by the sight of numbered pigeon holes in a wooden frame that hangs against the wall, many of which contain keys. A tall, thin nervous-looking man comes around from behind the desk toward us. He almost steps into a brass spittoon in his way. Just as I think he is about to put his foot into it, though, he veers around it. I can’t help but notice that the people who frequent this establishment have terrible aim.
“Can I help you, sir?” he greets Shaughnessey, his hand outstretched in greeting.
“That you can, sir, that you can. Shaughnessey and Company.” He pumps the man’s hand then releases it, gesturing toward both groups with a wave. “I believe you are expecting us?”
I try not to roll my eyes at his theatrics. It must truly be in his nature.
“Indeed, sir, indeed. Welcome, Mr. Shaughnessey. I am Mr. Westmoreland, proprietor of this fine establishment.” His gaze passes over the actors and lands on our group. His eyebrows raise inquisitively.
“And whom have we here?”
“New additions to our troupe,” Shaughnessey says quickly. “We’ll be needing a little more room, I’m afraid. That won’t be any problem, will it?”
Nothing is said for a moment, and I begin to wonder if Shaughnessey has miscalculated his welcome, perhaps overplayed his hand. But then the owner speaks again and we breathe a collective sigh of relief.
“There’s room for all, of course. Of course.” He smooths back his thinning hair. I wonder if all actors unsettle him or if it’s just Shaughnessey. This Mr. Westmoreland seems easily rattled.
“Um, let’s have you sign the register.” He turns on his heel and speeds back to the sanctuary of his desk. Along the way, he manages to kick the spittoon. It gives a muffled clang and wobbles almost precariously but remains upright.
Shaughnessey follows closely behind, although not as clumsily, while we wait to find out where we are to sleep. Hopefully we’ll have a room to ourselves, one not too near that annoying Irishman. I haven’t spoken to the others enough to gain any measure of their worth, but I find Shaughnessey utterly worthless. And I am anxious to begin my search.
My father takes my hand and squeezes it reassuringly. “We are closer and closer all the time. Have patience, Adal.” But that is easier said than done.
Moments later, Shaughnessey returns. I see three keys in his hand. He hands the first to one of his actors. “Pete, have the lads bring everything up to the room. You know what to do with the wagons, yes?”
Pete nods, and beckons to his comrades. They follow him out as Shaughnessey turns to us. “I was able to procure a room for all of you.” He beams at us, as though he has just informed us of the second coming, and hands Vati a second key. “I believe finding you was meant to be. I can feel it in me bones.”
“And why is that?” Vati asks the question which I am sure we are all curious to know the answer to. Is he saying our meeting was fated? I find that hard to believe.
“I was not sure how we were to open. You see, we lost a couple members of our troupe before we met you. I hadn’t wanted to bother you with our sad tale. But now I see that fortune has smiled upon us with your arrival, and we shall be able to open our play on schedule.” He gives me a knowing smile, one I cannot help but abhor, as a shiver glides along my spine.
“What play are you performing?” Myron asks, perhaps dreaming of what part he might play. Better him than me, I think.
“One of the Bard’s best,” Shaughnessey replies. “Romeo and Juliet.”
He’s staring directly at me now. Mein Gott, please tell me he’s not thinking what I think he’s thinking.
to be continued
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Until next time, take care!