Free-Range Fiction Friday: Tudor Mountain Lodge Continued
This story seems to want to continue, I hope you’ll let me know how you’re enjoying it. Flash fiction Friday is all about just getting words on paper and seeing where they lead.
The simmering oil met the scrambled eggs with pops and hisses that told Lori she had waited just a moment too long to get the eggs on the griddle. Her mind was thinking of all the things she wanted to do that wasn’t running the Lodge. She shook her head in an effort to refocus on the task at hand. One side of the griddle had the English muffins toasting and staying warm and she gingerly flipped them over to place carefully cut out circles of cheese onto the toasted muffin centers. Working with the deftness of years of creating these sandwiches each morning, Lori had the dozen of sandwiches put together on the griddle and turned off the heat from the giant knobs, which always looked like googly eyes to her. As she wrapped the sandwiches to put in the refrigerator case in the café, she could hear the scraping of the snow shovel, indicating that Roger was working nearer the lodge. She put the last sandwich on a small plate featuring the Tudor Mountain Lodge logo and headed toward the front of the building.
“Hot breakfast,” she called out the door. “Roger?” She couldn’t see him.
“Be right there,” she heard him holler back in a tone that told her he still had his cigar in his mouth.
She wasn’t dressed for outside and stood in the doorway waiting. She could hear the crunch of his boots on snow coming closer. She was looking to her right, but then heard, “That’s mighty nice of you,” Roger was on her left, shovel in hand.
“Oh!” she blinked back a slight startle. “I thought you were around the other side.”
“That’s for me?”
“Yes,” she said. And lifted the plate for him to take it.
He leaned the shovel on the wall of the lodge and ripped off his gloves, tucking them in his pockets and took the plate. He took a huge bite that almost ate the whole of the sandwich.
“Need another?” Lori asked.
“No, thank you,” he mumbled between chewing. He swallowed and handed the plate back to Lori, the remainder of his sandwich still in hand.
“You’re welcome,” and lifted the plate and gave Roger a slight curtsy. “I’m going back in, it’s freezing out here.” And she closed the door and left Roger with his sandwich.
Shaking off the cold, she returned to the warm kitchen and poured herself more coffee.
As she put the coffee pot back on its burner, the power went out. “Not now,” she whimpered and sighed. She put her coffee mug down and marched towards her mud room nook and slogged on boots and her heavy jacket. Roger likely didn’t notice the power outage, so she’d just get the generator going. She went out to the power shed, as they called it and unlocked the door with a key. Then she went to the side and lifted up the vent at the back side of the generator. Back inside she went step by step to get the machine prepped for operation. Within moments the generator roared to life. She grabbed one of the three fuel containers in the shed and headed back out front. She could see Roger’s silhouette in the small parking area, nudging something with his boot. He looked up and waved at her. She held up a finger letting him know she’d be there in a minute. She didn’t answer. You don’t yell in the mountains. Not when the weather has been so unsteady. Avalanches were nasty business. Sign language was the rule of the day unless you were next to one another or indoors. There was a slight incline to get from the lodge to the parking lot, and as Lori ascended over it, she saw what Roger was nudging. It was the body of a fox.
“Oh no,” Lori whispered as she finally reached Roger, her gaze on the limp animal.
“Yeah, I didn’t want to touch it in case it’s like sleeping or I don’t know,” Roger stepped back about a foot from the animal and let Lori get closer.
“It looks dead,” she said. “Such a shame,” and she did exactly what Roger had been doing and nudged it’s backside with her snow boot. The animal did not respond. She looked at it’s full tail. It had not been here long. She took off her glove, squatted, and put a hand on the animal. It was cold, but not really stiff yet. She looked around.
“What’s you looking for?” Roger asked.
“Another animal nearby or a litter ktis and I need a stick,” she responded matter-of-factly.
“A bit too early for fox babies,” Roger said.
Lori nodded and spied a stick near the stand of evergreens abutting the parking lot. She pointed, “mind getting me that stick there?” Roger turned his head to see what she saw. He finally got it in his sights and swirled his body, took three long strides and grabbed it. He handed it to her. She wiggled the stick under the fox’s belly and flipped it over. Blood was on the snow that had been under the creature. Its fur was matted in a starburst pattern.
“It’s been shot,” Roger said it before Lori could deduce it.
She looked further and saw the deep black of a bullet hole in its carcass, “Poor thing. Who would do such a thing?”
“Maybe it got in someone’s chicken coop?” Roger shrugged.
“Are they not protected? We don’t have too many of these about,” Lori shook her head.
Roger shrugged again.
“What do we do? Do we bury it?” Lori looked up at Roger, his beard had icicles on it right under his mouth.
“I think maybe we need to report it to someone,” he said. “Not sure, who.”
Lori took out her phone and snapped some photos. Roger stood sentinel.
“Would you mind putting the carcass in the woodshed for now?” I don’t want it here when the guests arrive.”
“You got it, boss,” Roger said. “Let me go get a tarp.”
Lori nodded. And then went back to the front porch of the lodge and called the non emergency number of the Sheriff’s department.
“Rockport County Sheriff’s Department, Dispatcher Lydia speaking.”
“Lydia, it’s Lori at Tudor Mountain Lodge.”
“Oh, hey, Lori, how’d you make out in the storm?”
“We’re good, but we found a dead fox on the property. It had been shot. I am not sure who I should report this to?”
“Oh, that is interesting; hang on hon, let me double check something.”
Lori heard obnoxious and crackling hold music. She looked at her phone’s signal strength, “Don’t lose connection now,” she thought.