When the guest is just a little bit extra strange...Welcome, weary travelers, to The Inn Between. Join Gabriela Jones, a botany lover, in her job keeping a vaguely magical inn near the rural town of Shearwater.
New episodes monthly on the first quarter moon. Written and read by Bailey Loveless
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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. Only a little bit. 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.
After we last spoke, dear listeners, I was filled with a general excitement and anxiousness for spring to get underway. I began prepping my garden tools and hoping for spring temperatures. However, those first few weeks since we last talked were cold, and the forecast was full of overcast, chilly days. As such, everything has longer to bloom. for weeks, the buds and catkins have just hung on the trees and the new fiddlehead ferns are tightly coiled shut. While a few guests started to trickle in after April first, unfortunately, there’s been no newborn fawns, no hummingbirds, and no bumblebees. Not yet.
However, I was visited by my first self-check-in guest. The guest came in overnight a couple of weeks ago. While many self-check-in guests come in and out without my ever even having seen them, this guest was a little bit different. I came down the stairs that morning and the self-check-in registrar lay wide open on the reception desk. On top of the pages was a note. Scribbled on bright yellow paper, it read:
“This system is outdated and this book is in need of replacing. You really should have a better system in place or a night staff to properly greet people. Just a suggestion.
Signed, the newest occupant of the Fiddlehead Fern Room”
I was a little surprised by the note. No one has ever complained about this check-in method in the past. In fact, it’s only ever used a few times each month. So that being said, I really tried not to think about it much as I went to prepare breakfast. However, I had the feeling it was going to be a long day, and I decided to get the espresso machine going for myself and make a nice honey latte.
While I was adding the honey to my morning espresso, I heard the kitchen door open. A woman walked in with short black hair. She wore a yellow dress with an absurdly thick, oversized black coat on top. But despite her giant coat, her teeth were chattering as she said, “Wow, that’s a lot of sugar in that coffee, don’t you think?”
Now maybe this woman has never heard this sentiment before, but I believe there are several colloquial phrases out there warning against talking to someone before they’ve had some form of caffeine in the morning. And on this particular day, I was no exception.
Without easing up on the honey jar, I tried to smile and said, “Guests aren’t allowed in the kitchen area. Is there something I can help you with real quick?”
“First things first,” said the woman, her teeth chattering. “I wanted to see if you had gotten my note?”
I nodded. “I did.”
The woman gave me an incredulous look. “And?”
“And I read it,” I said, stirring my coffee. “Was there anything else?”
“Can you increase the temperature of my room?” she said. “You really ought to consider how cold it is outside.”
“I keep the house at 73 degrees,” I said. “But I’m happy to bring you up extra blankets .”
“Please do that. How many do you think you’ll bring? I think 4 would do it. Maybe 5.”
“I’ll bring 5 then,” I said. As she didn’t move, I added, “After I finish serving breakfast.”
“And how long do you think that will take?” said the woman. “Are you doing eggs? Do you add milk to your scrambled eggs? Oh, I don’t see a pan out. It will take longer if you don’t preheat the pan.”
“I will be as prompt as I am able,” I said, opening the kitchen door and politely trying to gesture her out. “Now if you’d like to make yourself comfortable in the living room, I believe there are some extra blankets in there.”
“Alright, I’ll get out of your hair, but really you ought to consider a night staff and maybe some kitchen staff,” said the woman, flouncing towards the door. “I’m Bizzy by the way. Bizzy with a b. You’re Gabriela. Do you go by Gabby instead? You really ought to go by Gabby. It’s shorter.”
“It’s Gabriela,” I said, trying to smile. But I’ll be with you shortly, Bizzy.”
I shut the door. And I made myself an extra shot of espresso.
I’d also like to humbly say to please never ever disturb an innkeeper before they’ve had their morning coffee.
So after breakfast, I delivered the blankets to the Fiddlehead Fern room where Bizzy was staying. To my relief, she did not come to the door, and I left the blankets outside the room in a basket. With everything else taken care of, in the afternoon, I donned my favorite cable knit sweater and went outside to work on the garden. I retrieved my box of seeds from the barn and was looking through them as I walked towards my garden boxes.
A voice next to me said, “Are you to plant that buckwheat?”
Jumping, I scrambled as the box slipped away from me. Half the seeds hit the ground as I fumbled. “You scared me,” I said, trying to recover.
Without missing a beat, Bizzy pointed to the buckwheat seeds on the ground. “Because you really should consider vetch. I must prefer vetch for cover crops.”
“How nice,” I said, trying to collect myself and my items.
“I think all pollinators probably prefer vetch to buckwheat.”
“I wouldn’t know,” I said.
“No you wouldn’t,” said Bizzy with a little smirk that I didn’t appreciate. But trying to remain calm, I walked towards the garden beds. She buzzed alongside me, even after I kneeled down beside them.
“I put the blankets by the door, and I’m going to be working on this for a while,” I said. “Is there something you needed?”
“No,” she said, clutching her coat around her. “Do you use pesticides in your garden?”
“No,” I said glad for the change of subject. “I don’t want them to kill the beneficial insects, like the bees and the butterflies.”
“Oh good. I agree. Such a waste. So bad for the environment. But then how do you deal with the bad bugs? Have you started your spinach yet? Are you going to plant it with onions and garlic? Have you heard of the bugs that—”
“Bizzy, I’m so sorry to interrupt,” I said. “But I was wondering if you had any other plans for the day?”
She scowled at me. “There’s nothing to do around here yet. Everything’s closed. And as I was saying, you really should put your spinach near some onions. All sorts of bugs will attack your spinach if you don’t.”
Trying to think of something positive, I said, “Well. You must have a nice garden at home.”
Bizzy took in a sharp breath, and for a moment, she looked a little sad. But then her eyes, sharp and darting, looked towards the goats. The goats, Toil and Trouble, stared at us with their strange red and blue eyes in return. With a shake of her head, Bizzy pointed at them. “I don’t like the look of those two. You ought to send them back to where they came from.”
“What does that mean?” I said.
Suddenly, her face looked aghast and she covered her mouth. “Nothing. It means nothing. Anyway, the garden will be great I’m sure. Just don’t use any pesticides on it and everything will be fine. Anyway, it’s cold out here. Thanks for the blankets. Bye.”
And with that, she took off towards the house.
Now while the end of that conversation was a little strange, honestly I was kind of annoyed at this point and so relieved that she had occupied herself else that I didn’t want to think about it anymore. And I wouldn’t have if a few other strange occurrences hadn’t happened afterward.
Before we get to that, I want to remind everyone to keep in mind the three rules of The Inn Between. The three rules that the former innkeeper told me I was to follow at all costs on my very first day of work back in episode one.
And keeping these rules in mind, I will now describe three strange things that happened after that. Not only did I not see Bizzy for the rest of the day, but I didn’t see her the day after that or the day after that. The fiddlehead fern room remained tightly shut with the do not disturb sign hanging on the doorknob. Furthermore, the cat coincidentally returned from wherever it is he disappears to. During those few days, I saw him hanging out right outside the Fiddle Head Fern room. Whether he was batting at the do not disturb sign playfully or pacing up and down the length of the hall, I simply got the sense that he was specifically attending to that one specific door.
And if those two things weren’t enough, here’s the third. The third, the strangest of all, happened in the middle of the night when I awoke to the sound of a crash and a scuffle downstairs. Throwing on a robe, I rushed down the hall prepared to call 911. Rounding the corner, I flipped on the light switch. And there was Bizzy behind the reception desk, tussling with the cat. The cat was latched to the back of her coat as she flailed around wildly trying to get it off.
“What on earth is going on here?” I said.
The two of them stopped mid-tussle to look at me. The cat then let go and fell to the floor. It was then that I noticed one of the desk drawers had been pulled out and was sitting beside them on the floor, its contents in total disarray. Furthermore, it was not just any drawer, but the one in which I keep all of the room keys.
“What on earth did you think you were doing?” I said, rushing to pick it up.
“I was trying to help you, but this mongrel attacked me,” Bizzy sniffed. “You should really keep your desk more organized”
“And you should really mind your own business,” I snapped.
Bizzy hissed back. “Fine,” said Bizzy, throwing her hands in the air. “It’s not my fault things are the way they are! But I won’t help after all!”
Taking a deep breath, I tried to collect myself and said, “I don’t know why you think this is helpful, but this is not acceptable behavior. I’m sorry but I’m going to have to ask you to leave first thing in the morning.”
She glared at me and then with a hard turn, she briskly walked back upstairs. As for me, I slept on the couch that night to ensure there were no further disturbances.
To my relief, in the morning, the key to the Fiddlehead Fern room was sitting on top of the opened guestbook. Beside it, on a blank page towards the middle, was another note from Bizzy. Bracing myself, I picked it up and read:
“Thanks for not using nasty sprays in your garden. But you really should go through the door.”
Once again, I was surprised by the contents of this note, and I could only guess at what she meant. Now I’m not proud to admit this, but I did go try the handle of the study door just one more time because I can only assume at some point Bizzy found the study door and was disappointed to find it locked, just as a little part of me was after I turned the knob.
And that concludes the cryptic tale of Bizzy with a b. Anyway, what a character. Now that I’ve gotten some space from the whole thing, as I’m sitting here thinking about it, I do feel a little bad that it ended so negatively. I don’t know who or what Bizzy thought she was helping, but looking back, it’s clear that she was going through something and I hope whatever it is, it works out for her.
And I also really hope that it gets warm outside soon.
*Gasp* I think there’s a hummingbird outside the window!
Till next time listeners,
Be kind, plant for pollinators, save the bees, and don’t forget to water your plants,
Hey, it’s Bailey Loveless, and welcome back to season 2 of Gabriela and the Inn Between! Thank you so much for tuning in and joining me on episode 19. As a reminder, episodes for season two are going to be on a monthly basis, dropping sometime during the first quarter moon phase. The next episode should be available around May 27. If you enjoyed the show, as always please consider tipping your innkeeper over at Ko-Fi, link in the show notes below, so you can pay for her morning coffee so she doesn’t get grumpy with you. Not only does your contribution go directly toward Gabriela’s student loans, but it costs less than your favorite latte, gets you to access to bonus content, and most importantly, keeps the show advertisement free. I’m still seeking submissions for our guestbook segment for season two. So if you would like to submit short prose or poetry to be featured on the podcast, please send us an email or visit our website for more information, links also in the show notes.
In between time, keep warm, keep well, and see you on the next quarter moon, folks!