Ask me what I would give to have my life back.
They think he was a gambler. This place used to be the fancy house and gambling parlor for all of McCann County. Men who worked the valley farms or coast range forests came here on Saturday nights and squandered their wages. They say John got too lucky and was beaten to death in the alley. Now he wanders the place. Looking for something, or somebody
The hotel had an old-world extravagance of pillared and corniced windows two-storeys tall, and columns adorned with vine and leaf woodwork swarming with gargoyles and cherubs. Stern faces, boasting identical full beards, swooping mustaches, and grim brows watched over troops of half-clad nymphs running through the foliage.. Evidently the long-dead wood carver had been free to follow his fancies and dreams.
This lush world carved so long ago looked out on the plain-built main street of a sturdy farming city that served as the unofficial capital of Oregon’s wine-growing region.
The woman waiting at the welcome desk wore a black linen dress cut high at the neck and long in the sleeves. She had the whitest hair I have ever seen. Cut in a bob, it glowed like silver in the light. Her bangs curled a bit. Her thin lips, pale complexion, and washed-out blue eyes reminded me of something, but I chased that thought away.
I know it is old school, but I feel it is important that service staff know they are there to wait upon my needs and my whims. I always establish quickly that a certain social order will be maintained in our relations.
“Appleton Kenworth, I have a reservation.”
“You do. Welcome to the McCann Hotel.”
“So is the restaurant worth the cost of its meals?” I asked.
“Tonight I would not eat anywhere else.”
“I appreciate your loyalty, but I feel entitled to your honesty.”
“I really think you should eat in our main dining room tonight.”
“So you said. But why?”
“Tonight is the hundred and first anniversary of the founding of this hotel. We are having a party.”
A group of young people headed down the main hall, giggling. A woman with long dark hair walked past with a red balloon tied to her wrist.
“Please join in. You’ll enjoy it. We have added items to the menu.”
“A special burger with extra onions? Something like that?”
She held her face unsmiling, her expression polished; a professional’s implicit worry for my well-being written in faint lines on her forehead and accented by the sympathetic curl of her tight lips. She let my rudeness hang between us while she held out a key card.
“I suppose that you are only telling me I have no choice. You should know that I don’t write online reviews. I talk to people. People who buy and sell properties such as this.”
Before I could pivot to stalk off in my most imperious manner thin fingers grasped my wrist.
“I’m so sorry, sir. I gave you the wrong key.”
“Yes. You are in Room 315, not 215. My error entirely. So sorry. And here’s our brochure. You should really learn about our history. And visit the garden. It’s only been here 50 years, but it has an effect.”
“Well then,” I managed.