Monday, October 21, 2013

Knapsack 10-24-13

Notes from my Knapsack -- Granville Sentinel 10-24-13
Jeff Gill

A story on the way home (pt. 7)

(the seventh installment of an ongoing story)

Coming down the stairway from the ancient inn's upper level, Nelson heard the proprietor before he saw him.

"Did you sleep well?"

A few steps further down revealed a tall, smiling older man with a halo of wavy white hair and a mischievous smile. "You had Room 9, I see."

Shifting his bag from his right to his left and setting it down, Nelson reached out across the counter. "You must be the proprietor."

"Quite correct. I'm covering the front for a moment."

"You probably have to cover a little of everything most days."

"Absolutely true, it's just the nature of being an innkeeper."

Bending over to pull a slip from the old-fashioned rack, the eyebrows went up well into his high forehead as the innkeeper read Nelson's name in full, with an emphasis on his last name. And then he said "Would you like what your sister left here?"

For just a moment, the room wobbled, dimmed, then returned to the morning brightness it began with, but now including a slightly worried frown on the proprietor's face. "Are you alright?"

"My sister died last week," Nelson said softly. "And I came to Granville because something had brought her here, and I wanted to know what; was it this inn?"

"I am so terribly sorry about your sister, she was a lovely guest, and I didn't mean to startle you with that question. So, with that last name, Sheryl was your sister, wasn't she? The resemblance is quite striking."

Nelson merely nodded.

Reaching up into a higher cubbyhole, the man pulled down a clear pocket folder, the sort people keep their bills or correspondence in on a shelf. It wasn't bulging, but had a number of papers in it, some photocopies, letters, and a few invoices of various sorts. "She usually came in the middle of the week, when we don't have that many guests, and she loved to stay in Room 9 unless it was already taken. She never made reservations, just showed up, and we always found a room for her, usually on a Tuesday or Wednesday it was Bonnie's room, the haunted one, you know."

Nelson hesitated a moment, then asked "Do you know what she came to this village to do, why she kept visiting here?" The innkeeper shook his head. "We like to be friendly with our guests, and I'm always willing to talk, but she didn't say much about that: my impression was that she knew someone here. But this folder full of papers is something she left in her room last time; we called her in Las Vegas and she laughed and said she'd just get it the . . . next time she came."

"So the answer," Nelson said slowly, "might just be in this file."

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in central Ohio; tell him what you think happens next at or @Knapsack on Twitter.

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