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The Hotel Caretaker

How unparticular the day had particularly been, On March the third of two-thousand and eighteen, For the caretaker at an historic Adirondack Inn, Had lacked company, and therefore, dopamine. ‘Twas Sunday when all the guests had fled, From either boredom or towards it in vocation, For two-day vacations left this specific town dead, Sequestered by its icy and secluded location. The caretaker, Ben, took care to shut off the lights, And prepare for yet another week alone, In a five-story hotel without a soul in sight, Besides those that his television has shone. Until the weekend he should not socialize, For patrons choose not to stay through the week, Such solitude and silence are his solemn prize, Broken only by muttered squeaks of sudden self-speak. Ben no longer cared to believe in ghosts, For if so he could not bare that which might lurk, In each crack of a floorboard or knot in a bedpost, That would scare him away from his work. As he sauntered up the stairway towards his bunk in the employee barracks, To yet another repeated night of bingeing beer and Bates Motel, He heard a knock both frantic and oddly hysteric, From the cellar-door of the vacant Hotel. The knocks clicked in wicked groups of threes, The gaps between their contractions shrunk, Until they sounded to be in such desperate unease, That they morphed together into a louder clunk. “Hold on! Ben yelled from atop the stairs, Of the cellar as he searched for a switch, And the knocks were replaced by commands in pairs: “Let me in! Let me in!” In a piercing pitch. Finally Ben had found the light and door, Then sunk beneath the kitchen into the concrete hollow, And stumbled upon unused clutter across the floor, To open the door with a heavy swallow. An old woman poured in with a greeting hidden in a wheeze, And like smoke, she puffed her way across the floor, As if a bellow blew her in with a squeeze, To replace the air she sucked right out the door. “This used to be the entrance,” she grimaced, With a frown so old it may have always been, And as she glared at the confines of the premise, She halted on the eyesight of Ben. Beneath her cloak a crooked hand had curled into a secret fist, Gripping with an arthritic shake: a locket wrapped around her wrist. “Don’t just stare you simple twit,” She snarled between her hissing dentures, “Is there anyone here with half a wit, Indentured to maneuver this business venture? Or is it just you,” she gagged in sheer disgust, That Ben was the only employee there, For in her eyes Ben spied a lack of trust, In him to offer hospitable customer care. Ignoring the insults from this mysterious hag, Ben ushered her up the staircase, Carrying her single travel bag, After she shoved it in his face. He lead her towards the hotel desk, And asked her for her name, She paused and muttered “Grace Burlesque,” As if he should have known it for its fame. Ben saw there weren’t any bookings this week, Nor was her ridiculous name found on the computer screen, But, then, before he could begin to speak, She announced “My usual room is 303.” “I believe my key is in an envelope, As it usually hangs on the door, Forget the towels, shampoo and soap, I’ve brought my own and need no more.” “I can assure you there is no key up there, I cleaned all the rooms this afternoon, You must be thinking of a hotel elsewhere,” He said to the slowly souring prune. “I can assure you there is a key up there, In each third month on its third day, I visit this very hotel in room 303 where, I enjoy my yearly Adirondack stay.” Ben beamed at her in disbelief, Surely there was no key of which she spoke, So he lead her towards 303 with grief, As he pondered that he was part of a joke. When they arrived at the tall locked oaken door, Ben’s stomach jumped into his throat, For there was that which was not there before, With a key and a handwritten note. It read: “Dearest Grace, I hope this finds you well, For our new Caretaker has yet been acquainted, With what the walls of this Hotel tell, Behind the wood that time has painted.” Ben of course had not read the note, For he was frozen in a froth of confusion, Wondering who had left and wrote, This note that he once considered delusion. “Well, that settles it, now you can leave me be,” Croaked Grace in triumphant glee, “I hope now you can come to agree with me, That I have properly reserved room 303.” “My apologies,” the befuddled Ben conceded, “If you need anything let me know,” With that he walked away and proceeded, To wonder how any of this was so. The next day Ben went to room 303 at noon, To bring a cart full of complimentary cuisine, And from the door he heard a nostalgic tune, That he used to listen to when he was a teen. “Housekeeping,” Ben announced as he knocked on the door, But heard nothing inside but the song, So he repeated until he knew she was not on the floor, And went inside when he saw what was wrong. The room was silent, empty and unused; There was no music to be heard at all, And as Ben stood staring blank and confused, He saw a locket hanging upon the wall. He grabbed the locket from the hook, And left to search for the missing tenant, Though it did not matter where he would look, For all that remained of Grace was her silver pendant. Grace had not returned that afternoon or night, Nor the next few days during the week, So Ben quit all efforts to reunite, The locket with the living antique. Curiosity crept upon his meddlesome mind, During the boredom of his lonesome time, So he decided to take a look behind, The locket, for a peak was hardly a crime. It opened effortlessly for the spy’s two prying eyes, Which widened when then they found the inside, For a photograph of himself fit neatly to size, By the vignette of a flash and silver iodide. The man in the picture was certainly Ben, Dressed in early twentieth-century attire, And on the other flap there was written in pen, “My beloved, Ben, who I’ll always admire.” Each hair on his arm erected a goose-bump welt, As his spine stiffened into a frozen post, And liquefied as he felt each memory melt, Into a puddle, reminded that it was a ghost.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2018

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