What About The Fox?
After a month of nothing, we return back to The Tudor Mountain Lodge. These characters have been occupying a lot of space in my thoughts as this last month has been filled with lots of family events, tasks, and such keeping me from actually writing. Here’s hoping the story comes faster and faster as I exercise those writing muscles.
The Tudor Mountain Lodge…continued…
And just like that, the call went dead. Lori took a deep breath in, trying not to lose her temper. Any more technology just made her weary. “They get you all hooked on its convenience, but when it really matters!” Lori let out a guttural battle cry of frustration.
Roger’s voice was behind her, quietly asking her what the problem was.
“Damn phone went dead and I…” she paused, hearing tires on gravel nearby. She looked down the long driveway and saw an SUV with California plates heading towards the lodge. Lori assumed a boss-like stance, putting her hands on her hip and through a fake smile told Roger, “Lydia answered the non-emergency number, she was checking on something when my phone lost the signal. Call her back after we get these folks settled.”
Lori pushed the weariness away and brushed invisible debris from her shirt and waved to the approaching vehicle. “Did you cover up the blood?” she spoke out of the corner of her mouth to Roger.
“Not yet,” he said. “Figured the sheriff or whomever will want to see it.”
“Smart,” she nodded and they moved a bit closer to the front porch as the car pulled up in the “loading” zone of the lodge, which was just a little small outcropping of the circle driveway in front of the main building of the Tudor Mountain Lodge.
The couple exited their dark blue vehicle with complementing California plates, smiles alighting their faces. They were happy to be here, Lori thought, even if they looked dressed for tea time as opposed to a weekend in a mountain retreat.
“Welcome!” Lori greeted. “So glad you made it alright!”
“It was an exciting drive,” said the man, coming around the front of the vehicle. He pointed his key fob and the back of the car opened and Roger moved to retrieve luggage.
“Albert Reynalds,” the man said, holding out a hand to Lori. But her phone rang in her pocket.
“Excuse me,” Lori shook his hand quickly. “Roger, will show you to your room and give you the lay of the land. Welcome.” Her guest looked a bit put off, but she knew intuitively she had to answer the call. Roger motioned with one of the small leather satchels to enter the lodge and the three headed in that direction.
Lori walked further down the driveway away from the guests and answered her phone.
“Lori! I’m so glad I caught you. It’s Lydia.”
“Oh, Roger was going to call you back, I’ve guests arriving for the weekend, things have gotten busy here. We put the carcass in the shed in case someone wants to look at it.”
“Sheriff Harlow said he’s sending someone out; said he doesn’t normally do this, but there’s been some other wild animal shootings not too far from you and he wants to see if they’re connected.”
“Alright,” Lori said, then quickly added, “Can you tell him to park behind the shop? It’s the first building to the right as you enter the property. I don’t want my guests to get curious.”
“I’ll give him a message, Lori,” Lydia said.
“Thanks for understanding my phone signal and calling back,” Lori said.
“My pleasure,” and Lydia hung up.
Lori hurried back to the lodge’s reception area, but it was empty. Roger had taken the guests up to their room. The Reynalds had the larger of the two person suites. She had no notes in her reservations spreadsheet about the purpose of their visit, but hopefully they were going to not need a whole lot of hand holding while the staff – just her and Roger – handled the sheriff’s visit over this poor dead animal.
Roger came downstairs. “Moving their car,” he said to Lori.
“Sheriff is on his way; that was Lydia on the phone,” she said.
Roger nodded and he went back outside. The door was hardly shut again, when it opened, and in walked Elvis. Not that Elvis. Elvis Ribon, who had lived in these mountains for decades and knew all of its places better than anyone. He came to the cafe to get a sandwich to go for his tracking and other wilderness education classes.
“Good Morning, Elvis,” Lori said.
“Good Morning, Miss Lori,” he said, his gruff voice sounding confrontational, even though Lori knew he was being kind. If you didn’t know Elvis, you’d think he was not only a hermit, but a curmudgeonly one as well.
“As Always,” he said.
Roger came back inside and hung the Reynald’s key at the station behind the front desk.
He waved at Elvis and came into the little cafe space where Lori was prepping Elvis’ Coffee with whole fat cream, as her customer termed it. “Don’t give me that skim, crap,” Elvis would grumble some days.
“What do you know about animals being shot around our area?” Lori asked Elvis.
Elvis shook his head, “haven’t heard anything,” he said. Lori handed him the coffee.
Roger poured himself some in his tumbler with a Mountain Roots sticker on it, “We have a dead fox in our shed with a bullet hole in it,” he turned to Elvis. Then sipped his coffee quickly before continuing. “Sheriff’s on his way out.”
“Not that Asshat Harlow!” Elvis said. “He just wants to be in the action; he doesn’t actually do any thing.”
“Well, I want to make sure that the powers that be know we aren’t doing it and we want it to stop,” Lori said. “What would you have done if you found a dead fox basically on your doorstep with a bullet wound?”
“Set up better No Trespassing signs,” Elvis chuckled.
“Seriously?” Lori rolled her eyes.
“Well there’s 10 acres in any direction around my cabin, so not sure who would be around where they shouldn’t be,” Elvis said.
“Poor thing ran here from wherever it was shot,” Roger said. “Hope it didn’t have any babies or such.”
“This time of year? Not sure. Probably too early for that,” Elvis theorized.
“Well if you hear anything on your travels, Elvis, let us know, okay?” Lori said, handing him a coffee and a sack lunch.
“Turkey on Rye? No mayo?” Elvis asked.
“Yes, and we got some oranges in from the co-op, so make sure you bring the peels back for your compost.” Lori chuckled.
“Much appreciated,” Elvis said. “Good luck with the fox; time to get to work.” And with that he left the cafe and the lodge and Roger began to brief Lori on the Reynalds.
“They said they have no actual plans and will let us know if they need anything outside of meals, likely in their room.”
“I’m good with that,” Lori said. “Can you deal with the sheriff?”
“Not happy to, but I will,” Roger said. Lori placed a hand gently on his and said, “I appreciate you.” Roger nodded and went back outside.