Ep. 1 -- Three Rules

Welcome, weary travelers, to The Inn Between, a bi-weekly, scripted podcast written, read, and edited by Bailey Loveless. Join Gabriela Jones, a recent botany undergrad who takes a job as Innkeeper near the rural town of Shearwater. There are three rules:

  • Keep out of the study
  • Always trust the cat
  • Never, ever disturb the guests

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There are three rules at The Inn Between. I know this because Mrs. Carol told me several times as she showed me around the place. Three rules, just three, she kept saying as we quickly shuffled around the downstairs before heading out to where her car was waiting. She looked like she was about to climb in and drive away, so I had to ask her what exactly the three rules are.

She lifted a finger, one by one as she listed them off.

  1. Keep out of the study.
      “Mr. Leake always keeps it locked anyway,” she said, so that makes sense.
  2. Always obey the cat.
    Yeah, I honestly don’t get what she could mean by that one, so if you have any ideas, listeners, please let me know.
  3. Never, ever disturb the guests

“That’s very very important,” she said. “Especially the self-check-in guests, never disturb them under any circumstances.”

I asked her what she meant by self-check-in guests, and she explained that these guests came in after hours and told me to look by the front desk for all the info. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with the idea of leaving the front door unlocked and people coming in when I’m sleeping, which I said to her. She told me not to worry about it, that the dog would take care of it.

“He will protect the property and probably you too,” she said. “But don’t trust him with anything else, and don’t let him inside.” I asked if that was another rule. She answered me by driving off. And that was that.

So hello there, my name is Gabriela Jones, the new innkeeper of The Inn Between. Come on in, prop up your feet—metaphorically speaking of course—and pour yourself a cup of coffee. To those of you back home listening to this, you all were probably right. Angela, Kylee, Morgan—yes, maybe it wasn’t the best idea to move to an old bed and breakfast in an even older town that I’ve never heard of before on the other side of the country. Now that I’ve said it, it does sound a little insane. Mom and Dad, you have always said that I was a foolhardy and headstrong girl, so you will be pleased to know that yes, my botany degree probably is going to be as useless as you said it would be. I know being hired as an innkeeper was a surprise to you, just as much as it was to any of me.

Now, don’t mistake me. I know some of you feel differently, I have nothing against hospitality and housekeeping, otherwise, I wouldn’t have taken the job. But I don’t have any real experience. My only customer service job before this was working part time as a barista to get me through school, and I am not certain that I have the right disposition for the position. I am okay saying that because anyone listening who knows me will know it’s true—I am not confident, outgoing, or have ever been described as a people person.  I admittedly expected that Mrs. Carol was going to stick around a bit more to show me the ropes. But pragmatically speaking, a girl's gotta eat—and pay off her student loans. So here I am, first day on the job, and I’ve got no way to quit anyhow since Mrs. Carol didn’t leave any contact info for my new employer, Mr. Leake.

I was pretty tired after the flight to Seattle and then the journey out to the coast, by way of bus then ferry then bus again, so I spent the first day simply trying to orient myself with everything.  

The Inn is converted from a large house, and while I’m not sure exactly when it was built, it feels worn in and cozy like an old, oversized sweater. There are nine rooms upstairs in total: seven rooms for rent, a guest bathroom, and my room. Instead of numbers, each door has a unique set of figures carved into the cedarwood. You can still see the chips of the chisel from whoever did such amazing woodwork. The images on the guests' room doors include a lion wearing a crown, a mouse scurrying towards a hole, a sad-looking mermaid, a flying raven, a spinning solar system of planets, three stacked heads of an unidentified gender, and an unfurling fiddlehead fern. The doorknobs are all made of copper soft with a light oily feeling leftover from the hands that have turned the handle of the years. Down at the front desk, I found the matching old-fashioned brass keys. The aforementioned study is tucked away nearby with a sleeping bear etched into the door. I’m not proud to admit it, but I tried the handle of the study and did indeed find it locked.

Mrs. Carol does not appear to have touched the computer very much and done all her work by analog, so the front desk area is covered in pens and papers that I need to sort through. I did find the self-check-in registrar so I could keep on top of that should anyone arrive.  Fortunately for me, a look around the registrar at the front desk confirmed that no guests are currently checked in, so I have some time to adjust and learn my way around.

Aside from the registration, there’s also a large, leather bound guest book on the front desk. There’s a curious amount of things inside. Not just the typical brief and impersonal notes hastily written. No, tucked between the perforated pages of this particular guestbook are leaves and pawprints, alongside poetry, platitudes, and personal stories. Take this note left by Bailey Loveless, who I guess stayed in the Fiddlehead Fern Room sometime last fall. She left a tiny, yellow pressed flower and wrote:

"Make the world your canvas
Put a poster up in your room
Create a cottage in the corners
Build blanket forts as warm as wombs"

Strange, no? But beautiful and speaking of rooms, my personal room upstairs is small but comfortable. I do have to use the guest restroom down the hall, but I don’t see this being too inconvenient as most of the other rooms have their own private bathrooms. My door has a horse with eight legs framed around the edges that looks as though it might spring to life. My first night sleeping in there, I even thought that I might have heard gentle, shuttering sighs that can only be described as a horse nickering. I found this relaxing as I had trouble trying to sleep. I am the sort of person that needs time to adjust when sleeping in a new bed, and I was anticipating strange sounds keeping me awake all night. You know how houses creak and talk in ways that only those used to living there are comfortable with? That night, there were no such noises, only the soft, assuring knickers outside my door as if the house could sense my newness and unease.

In the morning, I got to work right away. To my relief, no guests had come in overnight, so I decided to spend the morning looking around outside, which is what I am most about. The land around the Inn Between would make any botanist’s heart soar. According to a brochure for the Inn that I found, the Inn is located on 50 acres of mostly forest. The mountains are visible from the covered porch or out on the neat lawn, but ancient conifer trees surround the yard, and across the way is a small barn and untended garden. Extremely excited about the prospect of starting a garden, I headed that direction and discovered inside the barn were two small, black and white goats.

They looked extremely irritated with me for not having delivered their breakfast yet. But I found some feed, and they settled down quickly, and after we all got over our mutual annoyance with Mrs. Carol for neglecting to tell us about one another, we regarded each other with mild curiosity. Around each of their patchy, greyscale necks is a leather collar with an engraved metal plate. I read their names as they were bent over their food—Toil and Trouble. Interesting names. The goats are extremely unusual-looking. Their horns are short but twisty, and they share almost identical heterochromatic eyes. Each has a red-eye and a blue eye, but on opposite sides of another so when they stand side by side as they often do, they appear as if they are a two-headed goat, sharing one set of eyes. It’s a bit unnerving when they stare at you in this way. A cursory search on the internet did not yield any results as to what kind of goats they might be, but they seem like mild-mannered little things once you get past their bizarre appearance.

The garden meanwhile looks like it hasn’t been used in some time, but I am confident that I can fix that. If I can get some vegetables going this spring, that would be amazing, both for my own amusement and for my job. Preparing guests' breakfast is part of my duties as outlined by the job posting, and I know I appreciate fresh, home cooked food so much when I travel.

I did not see the cat nor dog that Mrs. Carol mentioned, not yet, but I look forward to meeting them. 

While I might not be in grad school or have my dream botanist job yet, I am excited that I have the opportunity to still practice my passion in this new job. This brings me immense comfort. 

I am a bit lonely and anxious in this new place, alone in such a big house. But at least I can look forward to acquainting myself with a wonderful forest. 50 acres is a lot of land to explore, and the plant life here is not only bountiful but absolutely beautiful. In all, I have spotted about 23 Douglas firs around the place so far, but who's counting?

Till next time, Be kind, go outside, and don’t forget to water your plants, Gabriela Jones