Ep. 14 -- Missing Keys


Thank goodness, I'm a cat person. Welcome, weary travelers, to The Inn Between. Join Gabriela Jones, a recent botany undergrad, in her new job as Innkeeper near the rural town of Shearwater.

New episodes bi-weekly on the quarter moon. Written and read by Bailey Loveless

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Another special thank you to Faerily Rowanwind for her collaboration. Faerily is a collector and recorder of stories that need to be told. Sometimes it comes in the form of letters or poems or actual stories or actual things. In her off time, she masquerades as one Chasity Anderson. A young woman who has a BFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Afterward, through a series of serendipitous events, she became a Teacher of the Visually Impaired. She has been in her current occupation as a teacher for around ten years. If you needed to locate her she lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and removes the mask at night. You can follow her on Instagram at @faerilyrowanwind.

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LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This podcast is inspired by and recorded on the Indigenous lands of the Coast Salish people of the Pacific Northwest. We celebrate and honor these ancestral lands and their stewards--past, present, and future.

THEME MUSIC: Yonder Dale / Tiny Surprises / courtesy of www.epidemicsound.com

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Welcome, weary travelers, I’m Gabriela Jones, the new innkeeper of The Inn Between, where the trees are green, the rooms are cozy, and the guests are only a little bit strange. Whether you’re listening for the first time or have been here before, come on in and prop up your feet—metaphorically speaking of course—and pour yourself a cup of coffee. 


Hopefully, most of you allowed the last quarter moon to pass by without noticing that I had failed to upload a new podcast episode, both so that you had no cause for alarm and so my shortcomings mostly went unnoticed. But a couple of you did reach out, wondering if something had happened to me, and in case you did feel slighted by my failure to record, I do want to apologize. You see, the day I was meant to record proved to be a little peculiar day and a teensy bit scary. Because there’s nothing so tiny that can send your heart racing with anxiety and dread than misplacing your keys.

To be fair, the whole day started just off from the beginning. I woke up feeling unrested and agitated. The toilet gurgled like it hadn’t before, the computer at the reception desk took forever to start up, and the floorboards seemed to squeak louder than usual as if the house shared in my irritation as well. Seeing as the weather has remained invitingly warm, I had quite a few folks on my reservation list for the weekend. Sure enough, not long after I had checked out guests, cleaned the rooms, and gone down to the front desk area, the door opened and a young couple with a small child, a little boy, came in.

“Perfect timing! You must be the Leonards,” I said, checking the reservations. “Let me get you checked into the Mouse Room and grab your key.”

The little boy peered at me over the top of the desk. “What’s the kitty’s name?” he said.

“What kitty?” I said.

“The one outside wearing glasses.”

“I’m not sure,” I said playing along. “What do you think the name is?”

He smiled sheepishly, reaching out for his dad in the way that shy kids do, and I didn’t think much more of it as I finished up the paperwork. Then I opened up a drawer, the one I keep the guests’ keys in, and the Mouse Key was not there. Nor was it in my pocket. Nor on the desk where I remembered it being set down by the couple who checked out from that room earlier that morning. 

I don’t think there’s a more awful feeling than misplacing something important. You know the one—when you realize there’s a little gap in your memory, appearing as suddenly as a hole in your pocket, leaving you wondering how many things unwittingly fell through before discovering it.

Embarrassed and certain that I had lost the key, I apologized profusely and asked if it would be alright if I brought their key up later that day. They shrugged so I let them into their room with my own set of keys, the one on the keyring that I always keep on my person while working, usually in the pocket of my smock, and as soon as they were out of sight, I scoured the hall and the stairway looking for the missing key. Searching behind the desk on my hands and knees in what I can only imagine was an undignified position, the front door again opened.

Blushing, I quickly straightened and checked in an older gentleman who had reserved the Raven Room.

“Just a second sir, let me get your key,” I said, as I opened the drawer. And to my ire, the Raven Room key was now also missing from the drawer. Promising to bring him a spare key later, I counted all the keys laying in the drawer, confirming all were present save for the two I already knew to be misplaced. But that didn’t matter thirty minutes later when the couple who reserved the Planets Room arrived, and their key was also gone.

“But it was just here!” I muttered a little too loud. Turning beet red, I looked up at the couple who were staring at me hard. “Sorry, sorry, just give me a second, I know it’s here somewhere,” I said as I rummaged fruitlessly through the bottom of the drawer.

Just then, in the wall next tp us was an unmistakable scratching noise—the soft, but oh so distinct kind that mice make when they are in the house.

The woman blanched and said, “You know what, I think we should go get a motel back in town.”

And before I could placate them, they were out the door and gone.

You know, for such a rural place, I’d never actually seen any signs of rodents around the property. But as soon as I put my ear to the wall, I could hear a faint but distinct sound of clicking and clanking that surely meant that something was moving behind the wall.

Matters were not helped when I went to the post box and found a letter—a letter in a small, small envelope covered in post stamps and tiny handwriting that was clearly addressed to quote “Mr. Dormouse  

Hole next to the kitchen sink beneath the counter, 

The Inn Between.” Unquote.

Any other day, I might have thrown the letter out as some absurd prank, but under the circumstances, before I even opened it up and read it, I ran to the kitchen. And there beside the sink, under the counter, was a mouse hole.

Now, I do consider myself a moderately clean person, and while I respect all that mice and rodents do for our ecosystems and am very, very happy to have them outdoors, I cannot abide the thought of mice in my kitchen, where I cook and clean and prepare meals for myself and guests. Moreover, the keys were still missing, and this little mouse hole was just one more stressful issue to deal with. Then resting my hands in the pocket of my smock, I realized that there was nothing inside. I checked my pockets once, twice, three times. But my key ring was now gone too, and with a stamp of frustration, I said out loud, “Where are the keys!?”

As I was standing there, determining what to do, the answer suddenly appeared in front of me. Or rather jumped into view.

As some of you may recall, there are three rules at The Inn Between. Or so I was told several times by my predecessor, Mrs. Carol back in March. So far, I’ve kept them all to the best of my abilities.

Number One — stay out of the study— hasn’t been very hard because the study is always locked.

Number Three — Never ever disturb the guests. I think I’ve mostly kept that, except for one or two times. depending on your definition of disturbance, and I’m determined never ever to do it again.

And Number Two—Always trust the cat. You could say this directive has mystified me since my arrival. Since I’d yet to encounter the cat, for better or worse, there hasn’t been any opportunity to put this rule into practice.

Not until now, that is.

I fully admit that I shrieked when the cat suddenly leaped up onto the counter. We both cocked our heads to the side as we seized each other up. Then it lifted its paw as if to say hello.

“Hi,” I said back. Now I quite like cats. I’ve always been a cat person and were I suspicious, I think a missing cat magically appearing at the beginning of October must be nothing short of a good morning.  The cat was sleek and lanky with clean, short fur that was a striking light blue-gray, almost pastel color. A cursory google search has told me that this color on cats might be called lavender tortoiseshell. The internet also told me that rubbing the tail of a tortoiseshell cat on a wart is an effective cure for a wart, an old wive’s tale I will put in my pocket for later. But I digress. 

Anyway, the cat was free of any markings save for two, dark circles around its grey eyes that did give it the appearance of wearing a pair of spectacles. 

I came closer to the counter and reached a hand out tentatively, which was ignored by the cat. Instead, the cat snatched the unopened letter right out of my grasp and scampered away.

“Hey!” I called as he made out through the open kitchen window above the sink and made itself at home in the flower box, the one in which I had planted some lovely bright yellow zinnias earlier this year. To my dismay, I watched several of the flowers become decapitated as the cat started digging in the box. I leaned out the window to tell the cat to shoo, but it had already stopped. In fact, it was looking rather smug as it presented the bowl it had unearthed from underneath the flowers. Although a little dirty, the bowl was unmistakably golden yellow, and the cat had dropped the letter inside.

“I don’t remember that being there,” I said, trying to recall when I had planted the zinnias. I went to pick the bowl up, but the cat swatted my hand away and gave me a hiss.

“Alright I hear you,” I said, taking my hand back. “I take it you’re the cat. The one I’m meant to listen to?” 

The cat meowed in the affirmative and gently tapped my nose with its paw. 

“What would you like me to do then?” I said.

Using its teeth, it picked up the unopened envelope and set it between us. I reached out and the cat gave me a look of approval as I carefully unsealed it. 

It read quote,

“From: Miss Jerboa 

Behind the green window curtain to the left of the violet armchair,

Fae’s Hollow

My dearest Dormouse,

To say I was surprised to have heard the Inn Between had gained a new innkeeper for the first time in what seemed to be a generation or two is most definitely an understatement. I’m certain the upheaval and change in routine must be infringing upon one’s daily chores and of course, this must be affecting the pact made about the ceremonial leaving of bread and cheese. I can only guess that the new employee has not yet realized that the sunshine yellow bowl outside of the kitchen window with the flower box is meant to house a daily offering of milk and honey to the Little people either. In short. You must be quite distressed. Though, probably not quite as distressed as she will be when she discovers you beneath the counter. Hopefully, she is one with a sturdy head on her shoulders and an open mind to the oddities that just exist in that place. I can only imagine what she may have looked like upon finding my letter to you in the mailbox and of course in delivering it. You must be sure to share a bit of your watermelon jasmine tea leaves for her to enjoy. Perhaps even, as a potential peace offering so as to not find some of those terrifying traps that have been known to appear in houses and such when creatures like ourselves are found out. From your descriptions of her interactions in the garden and with the goats I feel that on a whole she is probably kindhearted and you’ve not quite so much to worry about.

That all said. Fae’s Hollow is continuing to go as it always has with the exception that so far the autumn has had a very dry start. It’s not unusual for it to be dry here in general but it has been especially warm far sooner than is typical. We’ve already had the hatching of butterflies and their emergence ceremony. And, the dandelion scouts have already set out distributing dandelion seeds to feed the early pollinators. I’m certain you have already seen the whispers of their work on your daily walks.

With that update, I hope to hear from you soon. Do keep me informed as the transition progresses and if possible see if you can drop some hints about the sunshine bowl. It would be unfortunate for a pixie or something of that sort to feel snubbed just because someone didn’t mention the importance of laying out their treat.

Sincerely yours,

Miss Jerboa of Fae’s Hollow”


“Well I definitely haven’t been putting milk or honey into the bowl,” I muttered as I folded the letter up. “I take it, that’s an issue.”

The cat seemed to give me a small nod, then sure that he had my attention, leaped back into the kitchen and up towards the pantry. Carefully, his lavender tail curled around the jar of honey on the top shelf. And so under the cat’s watchful eye I added both milk and honey into the little yellow bowl and stirred them together.

I offered the spoon to the cat, and he licked it clean as I scratched his back. “I don’t suppose you could help me find the keys?” I said as he finished up. The cat looked thoughtful for a moment as it enjoyed some pets then with a cock of its head, he leaped out the window once more, clearing the flowers and holding his tail high as it trotted off.

“What does that mean?” I called after it, but the cat disappeared around the corner.

With a sigh, I returned to the front desk and turned the whole thing over in search of the keys. To my chagrin, not only did I not find them, but the remainder of the keys were also all gone as if they’d walked off one by one by themselves. I was sitting slumped on the floor still rummaging helplessly through all the things when the cat reappeared on top of the desk.

“You found them!” I said, rising to my feet and taking the keyring dangling from the cat’s mouth. “Where did they get off to?”

The cat seemed to shrug, and then I noticed the pile of guest keys at his paws.

One by one, he slid them back into the drawer, and I shut it tight, hoping and praying they  would still be there the next time I needed them.

To my surprise, one more key was sitting on the desk. Not an old brass key like the others, but what looked distinctly like an old car key. Now it’s been a while, but some of you might recall the cute, light blue 1984 Dodge Colt out on the side of the barn. I’d never been able to find the key. But with the cat at my heels, I went outside and put it in the lock. Now I may not know a lot about cars, but as I switched the key in the ignition, the engine purred beautifully. And I can’t tell you just how excited I am about being able to use the car in my free time. As much as I like biking, access to a car allows me so much more here where everything is rural. 

“Thank you,” I said to the cat as he leaped onto the hood of the car. After delivering the right key to the right guest, I took the Colt for a drive that evening through the forest enjoying the sight of the leaves beginning to turn autumn colors in the golden light with the cat beside me curled on the front seat. I love taking drives in autumn, when every road seems to be the scenic route.

I wonder where the cat has been all this time and why I haven’t seen him before. Now I see him every morning as I set out a little offering into the yellow bowl outside the kitchen window. The cat watches as if to make sure I’m doing it right then goes off to wherever it is he goes.  I also wish I knew his name because I feel quite sure that he has one, a proper one. But for now, I’m just happy to have a new friend.

Till next time listeners,

Be kind, always trust the cat, and don’t forget to water your plants,

Gabriela Jones


Howdy, it’s Bailey Loveless, writer and reader of Gabriela & The Inn Between. Thank you so much for joining me on this week’s episode. If you enjoyed the show, please consider supporting via Ko-Fi, link in the show notes below. It costs less than your favorite latte, and your contribution goes directly toward Gabriela’s student loans. More importantly, it keeps the show self-sustaining and advertisement free. New episodes of Gabriela and the Inn Between release during the quarter moon phase. Now this month in October 2022, we have not two, but three-quarter moons on the calendar, and I look forward to seeing you on all of them, including Halloween.

A huge thanks once again to Faerily Rowanwind for contributing another letter and her ongoing collaboration. As a reminder, Faerily is a collector and recorder of stories that need to be told. Sometimes it comes in the form of a letter or poems or actual stories or actual things. In her off time, she masquerades as one Chasity Anderson, a young woman who has a BFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Afterwards, through a series of serendipitous events, she became a Teacher of the Visually Impaired.   She has been in her current occupation of  for around ten years. If you needed to locate her, she lives in Albuquerque. You can follow her on Instagram at @faerilyrowanwind.

In between time, keep warm and keep well, and see you on October 17!