While out in California, I had attempted to collaborate on a piece that I had entitled “Naked Inn”. Nothing ever came of it. Perhaps the awful title turned my collaborator off. Devoid of any further rambling, here is the piece in its raw form –
When Grandmother retired from the Inn, she demanded I keep it a Christian establishment. This baffled me as she considered herself a Buddhist. In her earlier years, should anyone make mention of Christ or any of His followers, she’d wince, insisting the conversation be changed. The repetition of her retiring wishes that the Inn remain a Christian establishment led me to believe that perhaps this wasn’t a slip of the tongue. Could she be stricken with madness? Events later in her life pointed to early onset of Alzheimer’s. She, however, in this moment, couldn’t be clearer.
One key to the Inn dangling in one hand, a finger on the other hand shaking inches from my nose, Grandmother howled, “Keeping it a Christian establishment means you keep it clean, Edgar! It means you follow the rules. When people check in, you get their payment right away. If they got no cash, show them the door! You hear me?” Before I could answer, she kissed my cheek, shoving the Inn’s keys in my jeans pocket.
As the Inn’s new keeper, business proved rather slow. The phone would ring, the callers surprised to hear a young man’s voice on the other end. Some feared Grandmother had died. I had assured them the woman was sunbathing, winking at cashiers, licking ice cream cones and enjoying every moment of retirement. Regardless, the Inn remained vacant for several weeks—just the creaking floors and me.
The first guests to arrive were two naked twenty-something year old boys. They were naked in clothing, money, vehicle, identification and knowledge of how they got like this. One boy suggested that had they arrived six seconds later, they could have died. How? They didn’t know. Looking at the two, they could have been twins. One, though, had African, maybe Caribbean skin.
“I don’t know what I can do for you two,” I warned. “You got’s no money.”
“You can keep us safe,” insisted one boy.
“Just put us in your worst room and forget about us,” suggested the other.
“Worst room?” That made me laugh. “All the rooms here are great. Majestic, my grandmother would call it. Plus, how the hell can I forget about you two? You’re my first guests as the innkeeper.”
“Don’t you got a closet in the cellar,” asked the African boy.
“You two are nuts. Listen, I promised my Buddhist grandmother I’d keep this a Christian establishment…”
“How does that work?”
“Not sure but I’ll tell you something…”
“What,” they both sung.
“I’ll give you a room.”
“That’s right. One! If it were my grandmother, she’d tell you to get lost, you understand?”
“We understand,” they echoed.
The boys followed me up three flights to a room with two queen beds. They both crawled into a bed each, staring at me like a long lost uncle. I offered them clothing but they said not to worry, they’d figure it out in the morning. Their eyes closed, quickly followed by intense snores.
In the morning the room was immaculate. The sheets smelled fresh, not a single trace of nakedness anywhere (other than my naked confusion). I hollered a bunch of names but realized moments later the boys never gave me their names. Clearly it was time to sit at the front desk and scratch my head.