“Where did they go?”
“I’m not sure Sheriff,” Al said looking at the bowed head of his wife Lenora.
The three of them stood outside some old crumbling ruins in the red rock high desert. This was a popular destination for people staying at their bed and breakfast. Lenora warned against sending their guests up here but Al wasn’t having it.
Lenora heard tales from one of their more ‘eccentric’ guests. An old woman with hand made everything, down to her wicker woven sandals, told her of people going missing up here.
She claimed this was an old military outpost built during the great expansion West. One night some local natives tried to raid the camp but they were severely outmatched. The soldiers left none alive and buried the bodies under the settlement. They swore there never was any raid and so the tale of the vanishing braves was born.
Danny Machal August 12th, 2015
Lenora flipped through her old French cookbook looking for continental breakfast ideas.
The small wooden barrel she found at the beach rested on the counter with the initials L.J.S. facing the wall.
Her husband Alerion couldn’t know what she had found and now buried in the Château de Montagne herb garden.
A small thunk like a broom handle hitting the floor followed by something dragging caused her to whip around quickly.
Across the kitchen an old wooden cupboard screeched open slowly. Lenora watched in frozen petrification as a small paper sack of pastry flour was promptly pushed off the shelf.
Danny Machal June 11th, 2015
“Arriving at the beach, she reflected on her life.”
Lenora squinted at the white capped sea thinking of Alerion and the Château de Montagne.
She had taken this weekend at the coast for herself. Alerion was supportive as always but this time…
She tossed her shovel aside. Quickly kneeling down she began scooping at the rocky sand, fighting the tide trying to rush in. Little cuts began to sting along her skin but she didn’t care.
Sun rays danced in her eyes off wet black painted steel banded around an old wooden barrel.
The map was left behind by a limping bearded guest at the Château de Montagne who had left in such a haste the map fell under the bed as he packed. She thought it odd he always wore sun glasses, even inside.
To be fair she did try to contact him but he left no number.
Turning the small barrel in her hands the initials L.J.S. were almost completely weathered away.
Danny Machal May 13th, 2015
“After losing her head, she realized that the rest of her body was falling apart!”
Lenora nodded to herself at the excited Mom panicked over the phone.
“Okay give me your address and I’ll check the Sunshine room for the leg,” she said calmly diffusing the agitated Mother.
Lenora and Alerion never had children as she wasn’t able. The doctors said she had something wrong with her insides and she choose not to be haunted by the details.
So whenever they had young guests at the Château de Montagne it was always a treat and they were urged to stay in the Sunshine room specially made for children.
Lenora rummaged around the Sunshine room toy box searching for the little girls missing doll part. The tinkle and clink of a vintage Jack in Box high on a shelf began to play.
Jack popped out startling Lenora. He was holding the missing plastic leg smiling a bit bigger than she remembered.
Danny Machal May 4th, 2015
Al adjusted a set of small brass rimmed reading glasses on the bridge of his nose to get a better look at the small cedar music box. The skinny brass frames were always slipping down. Lenora always reminded him that bigger plastic frames would hold fast in place but as a stubborn husband (a bit of a fashionista to boot) he was compelled to protest. He liked the smaller shiny brass frames that carried an air of refinement when he wore them.
“Let’s see what we have here,” he said aloud in English. His accent is barely noticeable these days.
He couldn’t remember when his thoughts and dreams had converted from his native French tongue but it was a slow process. Speaking the language of his lovely wife Lenora became a familiar comfort always reminding him of who held his heart.
Of course as a great man once said, “Men often resort to their native tongue in the throes of passion.” A smile crept across Al’s face as a devilish lustful memory crossed his mind. This was quite the common occurrence when distracted by thoughts of Lenora.
Al flipped the tiny metal latch opening the lid of the small brown box. A song started to instantly chime away as the old wound up clockwork began to come to life. That song.
* * *
The caw of a small baby Jay caught Lenora’s ears outside the restaurant kitchen window. Suddenly a loud concussive smash shook the thin window pane ever so slightly startling the Jay causing the little bird to fly off and pester an unsuspecting worm or grasshopper.
Down in a bowl of fresh bread dough lay the perfect impact crater of her fist. The aftermath of the ‘widow-maker’ of a punch she just through down into it made her smile warmly. Lenora wasn’t a large woman or particularly even strong but she could hold her own against Jays and bread.
Staring down at the off white imprint counting all her knuckles made her think of Alerion’s (though most call him Al) small stint of amateur boxing when they both first came back to America together. Alerion was always ready to defend her honor any time and any place. It was part of how they first came to know each other. He was a young French carpenter of nineteen barely able to swing a hammer without smashing his thumb. She was an equally young American cooking student of twenty three studying the art of French Cuisine at the Ferrandi French School of Culinary Arts in Paris.
Alerion had taking a big licking stepping between her and a group of pesky French boys who were shouting at her with intentions that were less than honorable. After they had their way with him she remembered kneeling down next to his curled up body. There was blood all over the pavement and his eyes were practically swollen shut. Somehow he managed to look up at her through the tiny slit of his good eye and smiling a half toothless grin he muttered one word, “booty.”
Disgusted she grunted and stormed off leaving him there. Later she would learn he meant, “Beauty.”
Little did they know that one moment in time was going to be the final snowflake in the avalanche that would carry them on many adventures together before settling in Northern California and building a small Bed & Breakfast off the interstate called Château de Montagne.
She tossed a damp kitchen towel over the bowl of dough to let it rise and went off to see how he was coming along sorting out the Château de Montagne’s lost and found box.
Danny Machal April 28th, 2015