The work was hard. Gut wrenchingly, heartbreakingly, hard!
Harder than either of them had anticipated. In ways, largely unseen, it took it's toll. Both physically, and mentally.
The long hours of the days, beginning early, stretching into the late night, often after midnight before the stairs could be climbed, so wearily, so slowly, and the blessed collapse into the warm bed, could begin to to untangle knots of weariness.
Or simply bring an initial oblivion that was neither restful, nor healthy.
There were the many exits and entrances to be checked, double checked, to make sure they were all secure. Window locks to be checked, rechecked. The Garden area had to be checked to be clear, to be locked securely.
Overtiredness often prevented restful sleep. Sudden starts of wakefulness would ensue.
Had there been a noise? A tinkling of glass? Another broken window? Another break-in attempt?
The Country area was so much darker than the City had been. The far reaches of the huge car park area, shadowed, even darker, with the huge pine trees along the perimeters. The row of old, cobbled stables, which were no longer used, since there were no more horses to be stabled.
Homes now to the River Rats. An assortment of old bricks, Timber, Corrugated Iron sheets, broken furniture.
Rumour had it, that a previous owner had housed his pride and joy, an old Jaguar car, in one of the stables.
He seldom, then never, drove the car, but had loved to boast of the fact that he owned it.
One fine day, an admirer of Old Jaguar Cars came to visit, to ask if he could see the prize. Imagine the owner's horror, when he came to show off his pride and joy.
The River Rats had made mince meat of the engine's wiring. They had chewed the leather seats, making wonderfully comfortable homes for their many offspring. Even the woodwork on the dashboard had suffered. There was no part of the once precious vehicle which was untouched.
Locals sniggered, snide remarks about 'Just Deserts' were made about the greedy owner of the Country Hotel.
The locals were heard to murmur such things as " Monument to Ratshit" and
All that was gone when the new owners, the young couple, with such High Hopes, and Eager Dreams, took on the new prospect, of the Country Hotel.
Each afternoon, the female half of the couple, tired beyond belief, crept up the stairs to have her two hours respite, between Lunch time meals and Evening Dinner, if there were guests, which there often were. If no guests, most often Staff to be fed... after all it was a "Country Hotel", and there were no Takeaway shops to provide food or sustenance for hungry staff.
The Village had a Fish and Chip shop, but hours were limited, and appetites were not always inclined to their fare. The 'Missus' in the Hotel did not 'do' hamburgers, nor meals, apart from staff or guests.
There was a weekend Bistro Restaurant for diners. A chef/cook presided, & Bistro Type Meals were on the menu. Popular. A source for many bitter tears on a Sunday, when the 'Missus' had to clean the grease spattered kitchen, deep fryers, grill plates. The Extractor Fan. A monumental task.
The 'Missus' learnt to despise the 'Bistro/fast food kitchen' with it's fatty detritus, it's film of filth on every surface. The filthy linen, left, smeared & greased, to be cleansed of all grime, before next Restaurant Night.
Every Sunday was spent in tears, of despair, at the futility of it all. She felt she paid far too high a price for her money.
Perhaps if she had not had pets, she would have lost her mind.
Her GP advised her to change her life. Her physical problems were directly caused by her occupation.
One day, she sat in her 'sanctuary' upstairs, watching the passing parade of the small village, below
She noticed a large truck, roll to a stop outside the small cluster of shops in the street. She saw a Ginger cat, appear to disappear under the wheel of the huge truck. She looked again, but saw no cat run, saw no more evidence of the cat.
She waited, feeling very unsure. She watched. The truck driver emerged from the Butcher, and started his vehicle. He had walked around the truck, as if he, too, had felt perhaps an animal may be hiding there.
As he began to roll, slowly off, there tumbled out a Ginger cat, from a wheel well.
The watcher, from the Hotel, sprang to her feet, raced downstairs & rushed accross the street.
The Driver, sprang from his seat, & ran to the back of his truck, just as the watcher arrived.
"Oh My God" he said. "I had a feeling there was a cat there, but I could not find it!"
"I know" the watcher replied, "I was watching. I could not believe it was still there!"
She scooped the cat into her arms. "I will take it to the vet. I have no idea whose cat it is, but it needs help!"
She raced to the vet, which was close, in the Village.
The vet took one look decided it had internal injuries.
"Hold it for me?" she asked the watcher.
"Of course" the watcher replied.
"It's gums are pale, it has internal bleeding, injuries."
As the watcher held the cat, it died. She was so glad to have been able to hold the poor animal, to try to give it comfort. Tell it she loved it.
She knew her days as a Country Hotelkeeper were severly numbered.
In days that followed she shed many tears for the Stranger's Cat. No one came forward to claim the poor little Ginger Cat.
6 months ago