Frank just met the lovely, new psychologist on staff, Marka Ventimiglia. He finds her interesting and extremely intriguing. She’s smart and funny and they seem to share the same, slightly twisted, sense of humor.
Frank reached for the house phone on top of the console TV when it rang. Startled, he answered. “Frank Atherton.”
“Do you have any idea what I’ve been doing for the last hour?” It was Kathy, nighttime housekeeper.
“Uhh. . . .”
“That man didn’t like the room! He said it was filthy! He had me clean the entire thing from top to bottom, put new sheets on the bed, vacuum, polish, scrub! I was on my knees with a toothbrush doing the tile in the bathroom! He stood behind me the entire time making comments about my skill. I’m going to kill him, Frank! I swear to God!”
She kept ranting. Frank tried repeatedly to get her attention, but she talked over him.
“Kathy— Kath— Ka— Katherine, dammit! I’m sorry!” He hadn’t meant to yell, but Mr. Penwarren had that effect on him too. “I know he’s an insufferable prick. I’m sorry.”
“Well—just so you know.”
“I’m sure the room was perfect before. He’s a jerk. Meanwhile, there’s no spare toilet paper in my room or in Dr. Ventimiglia’s.”
“What? You’re kidding! No spare paper? We always leave at least one roll—two if it’s low on the spool. I’ll be up in a second and bring some.”
“Might want to check the other guest rooms when you can. Just to make sure.”
“I’ll do that. Who the hell would take toilet paper?”
“Someone with a weak bladder and a bad case of the runs?”
Kathy giggled. She was always laughing. Having her screaming into the phone only told him how upset she’d been.
“I’ll be up in ten. Anything else you need?”
“No, I’m good. Thanks, hon. See you soon.” He hung up, turning back to his visitor. “Sorry. Had a little problem with a guest. He’s a real jerk. In fact, he’s the reason I’m here tonight instead of home—with a beer.” He flopped into the chair with a sigh.
“I hear a story in that.”
“His name’s Ralph Penwarren. His mom lives here. She fell and he blames us. Long story short, he’s going to make us as miserable as possible before he leaves.”
“My Gran would call him a pip,” Marka replied with a sly grin.
“Mine would call him a prick,” Frank countered. “She’s been married to a Marine for fifty-six years. She doesn’t take crap from anyone. She’d eat Penwarren for lunch.”
“Sounds like you should give her a call.”
“Maybe I will.”
They were laughing quietly over their little joke when someone knocked at the door. It was Kathy.
She bustled past Frank with several rolls of toilet paper.
“Sorry it took me so long. I dropped by Dr. Ventimiglia’s first, but she wasn’t there. I didn’t want to go in. . . . Oh, hi! I didn’t know you were here.”
“I came to see if he had a spare. That’s how he found out he hasn’t got any either.”
“All you have to do is call housekeeping. We’ll take care of it. The numbers should be on top of the TV.”
“They were. I didn’t realize there was anyone there at night.”
Kathy smiled, handing her some toilet paper. “Once in awhile someone gets up and pees the floor or spills. Most nights are pretty quiet. I inventory and fold sheets, that sort of thing.”
“Thanks for the information. I’ll be staying in a guest room for a few weeks. After that, I’ll move into a house in town. They’re remodeling. It’s not ready yet.”
“Oh, sweet! What house?”
“The cute periwinkle blue house on the corner of Florida and Fifteenth.”
“You’ll love it! My husband helped with the remodel. He finished the floors. All oak,” Kathy said. “It’s got a great view of the park and pond.”
“Yes, I saw. That and the kitchen are the two things that sold me on the house.”
“Kenny also helped with the cabinets. He’s a great carpenter. He works here part time too.”
“I look forward to meeting him.”
“If there’s anything else you need, holler. I’ll be sitting in my cave watching TV and folding sheets.” Kathy withdrew, a questioning look on her face as she passed Frank.
“Night, Kath. See you in the morning.”
“Bright and early,” she replied, winking as she left.
Blushing, Frank shut the door behind her. “God, we’ll be the topic of gossip for the next week.”
He pointed to himself, then her. “You being here in the middle of the night—”
“It’s not even eleven!”
“Around here, that’s like two o’clock in the morning anywhere else. Be prepared for it. The entire staff will know before noon and half the residents by supper.”
“I hate to think what the talk would be like if we were naked.” She paused, reddening. “Sorry.”
Frank burst out laughing. “Don’t be. I was thinking it.”
© Dellani Oakes