Richard and Lila arrived at the Lazy Dove Inn at three in the afternoon on a brisk October day. Crisp red, orange and yellow leaves flicked against the windshield of their SUV and swirled across the unpaved entrance. They seemed to dance their way up onto the wrap-around porch of the old three-story building. It looked like a lovely place to relax and enjoy a long get-away weekend in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. They had both been looking forward to this mini vacation for months.
Tired from the long drive, neither of them noticed the neglected mums drooping from the window boxes and didn’t give the hole in the screen door more than a fleeting thought. Richard dropped their bags by the faded welcome mat and went to park the car. Lila headed for the lobby.
Once inside the foyer, Lila smelled cigarette smoke. The worn carpet needed vacuuming. The grandfather clock had the wrong time on it. Cobwebs hung from a wall sconce. She began to wonder if they were in the right place. Their website advertised a smoke-free Victorian bed and breakfast hidden in a quaint town not far from North Conway. She proceeded to the front desk.
A slender woman with straggly brown hair, who looked like she had slept in her clothes the night before, greeted Lila.
“Afternoon. You the people from Massachusetts?” she asked, puffing on a Lucky Strike.
“Yes. The name is Ross,” Lila said, trying to avoid breathing in the smoke.
“Room’s ready,” she said, slapping two keys on the cluttered desk. “Number 6, top o’ the stairs on your right. I’ll need a credit card.”
“Okay,” Lila replied, digging into her wallet. “I thought this was a smoke-free inn?”
“Pretty much,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.
Richard came into the lobby and reluctantly put the bags down. He asked where their room was. “On the second floor,” Lila told him.
“King size bed, right?” he asked the woman.
“Yep,” she said.
Lila took back her card and led the way to their room on the second floor of what was starting to resemble the Bates Motel.
The room matched the décor of the lobby. It reeked of cigarette smoke, had twin beds and no TV. The sink and tub were streaked with rust stains. The smoke detector was hanging from the ceiling and had no battery in it.
“We can’t stay in this pig pen,” Richard said in disgust. “We’ll try one of those nice looking places we passed on the way here. Let’s go.”
They stomped back down the stairs, stood before the innkeeper and demanded their money back.
“We don’t give refunds.”
“That room is not acceptable,” said Lila, as calmly as she could.
“What’s wrong with it?” she asked, indignantly.
“I made it clear we had to have a non-smoking room when I booked it. Your website states this is a smoke-free inn.”
“Either of you smoke?”
“No!” Lila said, raising her voice this time.
“Well then, it’s non-smoking this weekend.”
“Look,” Lila said, trying to reason with her. “The room is not acceptable to us. Your ad is extremely deceptive. We cannot and will not stay here. We want our money back.”
“You callin’ me a liar?” she yelled.
Lila tried to keep things civil. “I didn’t say that. I said the room is not what you advertised. In fact, nothing is the way you described it online.”
“We don’t give refunds,” she repeated, blowing more smoke at them.
Richard just wanted to get out of there and began taking the bags to the car. Lila continued to argue.
“I’m going to ask you once more,” Lila said, as politely as she could manage. “Will you please credit my American Express?”
“For the last time,” she yelled. “I don’t care what you think o’ my place. We don’t give refunds.”
“That’s it!” Lila screamed back at her. “The freaking place is a sty. It’s not fit for humans to stay in. I’m not going to argue with you anymore. We’re out of here. Don’t bother to credit my account. I will be calling American Express from my car.”
Just as Richard walked back in to drag his wife out of there, a mouse ran through the middle of the lobby.
Screaming and running for the door, Lila yelled one last time. “And I’m calling the Board of Health and the Fire Department!”
“No need to get huffy,” she bellowed back at her. I’ll give ya your damn money back.”
© 2016, Lina Rehal. All rights reserved.
The author has granted WritersCarnival.ca, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.