Killing Time: Short Story Response to billybuc's Photo Challenge Prompt (5)
Responding to the fifth of Bill Holland’s challenges, I wanted to tackle a genre I hadn’t ventured into before. Challenges are great and photos can bring much to mind, nudging the muse to play with ideas. This started as a vague scenario, then, as often happens, it developed itself into something for which I wasn’t quite prepared!
I was supposed to meet the agent at eleven o’clock on this April morning. There was a house I’d noticed online, for sale and just the ticket for my entrepreneurial skills and secret plans.
For years I’d thought about owning a bed and breakfast, somewhere I could live but big enough to let a few rooms in the holiday season. A little extra pocket money wouldn’t go amiss and I’d welcome the company, something to do.
As I wandered along the main street, I felt safe. Friendly nods and ‘Hello!’s made me feel welcome. I was early for the viewing, on purpose, as I wanted to get a feel for the place before making any decisions. I rested awhile on the bench outside a drug and hardware store, watched the world go by whilst mulling over my plans. Do up the place, get the necessary licences, sort out health and safety regulations, then decorate and advertise my latest venture.
Something in the store window caught my eye; an earthenware plant pot with ‘Blighty’* written round its waist. Well, I’m English so I thought it’d look great in my new establishment. It was a good omen for today’s viewing; also a perfect ornament for the guests’ sitting room. I bought it.
I browsed further down the road. A Victorian style clock with lavish footings and ornate headdress commanded respect. No one could have picked an edifice more out of keeping with the neighbourhood. But what are clocks for if not to be noticed?
It shouted over the street, telling me my visit was almost due. Armed with the usual list of questions regarding ownership, size of land, annual rates and amenities, I approached the house.
Having met up with the agent outside, I could now carefully explore the numerous rooms to see if they fitted my expectations and plans.
The setting couldn’t have been better. Overlooking a wide inlet, with panoramic views from the rear, this weather-boarded mansion had ample proportions, suitable for a variety of guests. Its pastel green told the visitor to expect tranquility and rest, a quiet escape from a busy life.
It comprised of ten bedrooms, a few small ones in the attic space and several larger suites on the first floor. Leisure and dining facilities would be on the level immediately off the road. What better than to dine whilst watching the light dance on the waves or the movement of water traffic!
Then there was the basement, unseen from the road, where the land dropped to offer further space for accommodation. From here, on the water side, one could watch from generous windows the vagaries of the tides and the passing of leisure boats. On the road side there were smaller rooms set into the bank, each of which afforded a grill over a small vented pane with no view to or from the road. They were currently used as laundry rooms.
Yes, this would be perfect for my requirements.
I bought the house, did my renovations and opened up for business just before the summer season.
Several couples and families checked in for a night or two as they toured around this spectacular area. The visitors’ book had a collection of favourable comments and signatures. Then Mr Hunter arrived.
A tall, gaunt man, Mr Hunter was alone. He had little luggage, was planning on staying for two nights, and was happy to chat in the evenings. I learnt much about his background, how he came from a small family, now all passed away. No ties, no close friends. He seemed a little lonely but happy to socialise, enjoying new places and meeting people along the way. Indicating the pot I’d bought, he mentioned his interest in militaria, so I told him I’d been a soldier and I had a collection of weapons.
The laundry room was prepared. Mr Hunter wouldn't be missed. I had my first victim.
- an informal term for Britain or England, used by soldiers of the First and Second World Wars.
- Military slang - a wound suffered by a soldier in the First World War which was sufficiently serious to merit being shipped home to Britain.
Please note that any actual similarities to persons or places in this story are not intended.
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