Bent Words

Bent Words

April 06, 2006

The Timeberlake Inn Bed and Breakfast, located in Cascade, Wisconsin, was a little more than off the beaten path. But it was my job to book the lodgings for our trips and I dared to finally try something new -- something more than merely reserving another room at the local Motel 6.

So I dipped a cautious toe into the unknown waters of a Bed and Breakfast. I was always curious about these places, especially after watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho with my Mom.

We were about fifteen miles south of our intended destination when we pulled up to the antiquated house that would be our accommodations for the night. The white paneling of the two-story house had not weathered well through the years that passed and I was not at all surprised to spy an aged sign for an Antique Shop in the first floor window.

Inside, the uneven wooden floors creaked and groaned beneath our feet as though to beg us to retreat.

I must admit that after I saw the precious porcelain carefully painted on numerous doll faces, which were lined against the window seat of the shop, I wanted to retreat. Rooms filled with breakables… not exactly my kind of place.

Yet we told the kind, old woman behind the counter that we would at least check out the room.

There wasn’t a square inch of carpeting in the entire house. Every step you took was like an audible GPS blip of your exact location – the stairway being the worst. Even the stray cat, which lingered midway up toward our destination, caused the steps to moan under its weight.

The first thing we noticed when we entered the room, besides the fact that we were both on the tips of our toes, was the endless frills of our curtained windows. The light blue ruffles flowed long and willowy, finally resting their ends at the light blue painted, wooden floor. They hung dramatically, without contrast, against the pale blue, frosted walls and lifted slightly with the soft blue breeze that exhaled through the unscreened windows.

We stood together in the doorway for a long while. It was as though we were treading upon the ground of someone else’s home – which we were – and we each thought twice about taking off our shoes.

The bathroom was about as big as the bathtub it contained. It was, after all, an after thought to accommodate guests who wished not to share a bathroom with the other occupants of the inn. And, something I’ve always hated, there was a window above the toilet which was entirely too low for my own comfort. My only resignation was that this particular window faced the woods behind the house and, unless strange and curious tree dwellers occupied that patch of green, not too many people were going to be able to boast about a free peep show.

After stepping up out of the bathroom, as the floor in the living room was raised about an inch and a half, one could not help but choose to gleefully rush to the king-sized bed which was pronounced in height by a massive sea of various sized pillows.

Jumping onto the bed like an impressed five-year-old was also necessary.

I wiggled my way deep into the feathery covers and peeked over the pillows which surrounded me like a comforting wall of blue and white softness. Apparently, the innocence of my childish joy was simply too much to resist. Before I knew it, he was lying next to me, consumed by the folds of that down-stuffed mass.

The little old woman who owned the Bed and Breakfast must have carefully surveyed each board which lined floor because we never heard so much as a squeak accompany her approaching footsteps. Perhaps she had floated above the creaking wood.

Perhaps our persistent lip-lock prevented our ears from doing their jobs.

He pushed me away so hard that I nearly fell off the high-rise bed. We each looked at the old woman and for a long breath of silence she looked back at us as though she had never seen such a sight – two young lovers treating her granny-fashioned room like a zoo.

“I assume that you’ll be staying, then,” said the old woman with hands on her hips.

We each sat up immediately – hands folded innocently across our laps and I crossed my legs.

“Ummm, yeah, we’ll take it.”

The room was also adorned with books which included at least two bibles. ‘One for each of us,’ I thought.

But the book that he held in his hand was tall and skinny and held the handwriting of those who had come before us. Filled with aphorisms and bible passages, we paged through the journal with careful fingers.

“We’re so happy that God guided us to your humble little paradise. We have earnestly enjoyed our stay and think the room is simply adorable. God bless you and your beautiful little shop.”

At this point we decided to go somewhere else.

We ended up at a small park just outside of town. The terrain was fairly rough and yet we decided to take a hike along the overgrown trails which, at the time, seemed like a nice, active thing to do. With our hiking equipment ready, canned Miller Light, we set out on another adventure.

We passed a large rock, three evergreens and a cloud of about seven million mosquitoes.
Because of the booze, we had not noticed the blood thirsty bastards until each of us had acquired about 25 bites in various places where mosquitoes simply should not be allowed to bite.

My right eyelid was itching ferociously by the time we retreated, screaming with arms flailing, back to the van.

He was already opening up a tepid can of Miller Light when I noticed, much too late, the passenger window that I had left ajar.

I sat quietly, motionless, waiting to hear the terrible sound infiltrate my senses. Without turning my head, I looked from left to right, waiting. And, suddenly,

“Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz.”

“Little fuckers got into van!” he said while slapping the side of his face.

“You must have left your window open,” I matter-of-factly replied.

Thus the duration of the ride back into town was spent in glorious face, leg, arm and back smacking – a ritual made much more enjoyable when it’s someone else’s face, legs, arms and back being smacked.

Worn out and buzzed, we returned to the Bed and Breakfast. It had just become dark, and the stars were shining with a brilliant sympathy as though to apologize for our harried adventures. We decided to wallow in their kind graces for another hour or two.

We wandered around to the back of the inn, where one could see our room’s bathroom window, and found an uncomfortable picnic table resting in front of the remains of a small bonfire. The smoldering embers were enough to keep the miniature vampires away, but not enough to keep us warm on a mid-September night.

We did not speak. We simply tossed cigarettes and beer cans into the comfortless fire.
I watched him, immoderately, from the corner of my eye – the one that itched. He had that lost look bolted awkwardly to his face. The look where his eyes seem larger than life, bulging intently toward some unknown thought, and his lips distort into a curve of insecure wonders.

Looking at him, from the corner of my eye, he did not have to speak. I knew what he was thinking. He was thinking about the day after today and the race which would be the second to last for the season. He was thinking about his kids and what they were doing just then and how wished he could call them. If it weren’t for the 12-pack and the girl by his side, he probably would.

Ah, yes. The girl by his side, he thought. The one he was not so sure about.

The night passed by like a reassuring dream. The softness of the bed held tight to our wearied, bug bitten bodies and did not let go when the morning came as easily as we would have liked. The dark clouds and the promise of rain didn’t help. I think I slept through my shower.

A little late and on our way out the door, he grabbed one of the homemade, frosted cinnamon rolls from the Bed and Breakfast’s kitchen counter. I barely noticed the guilty look in his eyes as he hastily filled the brown and white “Timeberlake Inn” coffee mug but I knew it would end up in his collection at home.

Forgetting my shower puff, I ran back up to the room while he cleared the van of emptied beer cans and bug spray.

I posited a five dollar bill into the journal by the bed and added to my previously written entry,

“9/9/2001 - Thanks for the accommodations and the warm, comfy bed but could you please move the bathroom window up two feet? We enjoyed our stay and hope to see you again sometime in the future. Take care and take life.

P.S. Great cinnamon rolls! And here’s five dollars so there is no reason to cry over stolen coffee mugs.”

P.S.S. 3/28/2006 -- The mug fell to its demise - shattered, collected and discarded - in the blink of an eye.

Written at 6:17 p.m.