Nancy Hinchliff writes and blogs in Louisville, Kentucky as well as on line at Examiner.com, Eye on Life Magazine, Pink magazine and hubpages. She co-authored Room at the Table, a cookbook for The Bed and Breakfast Association of Kentucky for which she won their president's award in 2008. She is currently working on a memoir titled Operatic Divas and Naked Irishmen, a humorous and poignant account of how an admittedly asocial retired school teacher reinvents herself as an Innkeeper. In this intimate and engaging memoir, she candidly writes about her challenging sixteen year journey of self-discovery. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky where she still runs her bed and breakfast. You can find Nancy blogging at: www.businesswomensforum.blogspot.com
Excerpt from Operatic Divas and Naked Irishmen (a work in progress)
by Nancy Hinchliff
I heard it loud and clear. I was on the third floor at my computer with my shoes off, working on a new article. By the time I finished the last paragraph, it had turned into a steady pounding . I got up and walked to the stairway, shoes in hand. Sitting on the top stair, I put them on one at a time, as the pounding got louder and louder and took on a sense of urgency. I hurried down the forty stairs to the ground floor, thinking that this must be a worker from the street who had come to tell me they're turning my water off for a while.
I opened the front door and there he stood, completely rumpled; his weather-beaten canvas jacket open in the front revealing a denim workshirt, hair all askew, and backpack thrown over his left shoulder. He looked a little annoyed.
"Sorry," I said, "It's a big house....over four thousand square feet.........takes a while to get to the door....... Can I help you?"
"Yeah, I'm here to check in"
Check-in? Check-in? I thought, my mind racing. Did I have a check-in today? Oh my God, I think I did! But not this dirty construction worker, who was about to turn my water off.
I finally gathered my wits and said "And you are.....Mister....?"
".... Evans," he interrupted, "the business man from Virginia"
Business man...that's a laugh. This guy is no business man. If this is a business man, where is his brief case and his computer?.
"Mr Evans, of course" I smiled "Come on in"
"And you are?" he asked, reeking of tobacco.
"I'm Nancy, the owner and innkeeper."
Telling him to put his backpack down in the hall, I took him into the parlor to give him the grand tour. As we left the parlor and entered the dining room, I pointed out the snacks and drinks available to guests.
"Is it okay if I have some of that liquor over in the corner?" he asked, completely oblivious to the fresh baked chocolate chip cookies nearby.
Hesitating to think that one over for a bit, I answered
"Yes" I'm such a trusting soul. He told me he would be eating breakfast at nine and asked if his friend, the one who had made the reservation, Roger I think his name was, could stop by later for a visit.
Then he asked "Is there anyone else here but me?"
I thought seriously about lying, but answered "No"
He went on " Do you live here alone?"
A sharp jab in my stomach alerted me. Do I tell him the truth? Why is he asking that? "Yes", I said and sent him up to the third floor with a key, to find his room.
I hurried to my room on the second floor and double locked the door. Sitting on the bed, I tried to catch my breath, his words whirling around in my head. Later I heard him leave, then return. I quietly went down to the first floor to check out what was going on. I entered the parlor and there he was with an already half empty bottle of Vodka in his hand pouring himself a huge drink. The brown paper sack from the liquor store across the street was lying on the floor.
"Hi," he said, looking up at me from my favorite winged-back chair. He had a crooked but friendly smile on his face. He was now reeking of both tobacco and Vodka.
"Hi" I countered, scurrying past him and heading for the kitchen.
"Like a drink?"
"Oh no, thank you. I don't drink," I said, maybe a little too curtly.
I made it to the kitchen, without appearing too rude, happy that I wouldn't have to answer any more personal questions. I retreated up the back stairs to my room, which I immediately locked tight. An hour or so later, the doorbell rang and I could hear him open it and greet his friend. For a while, it was very quiet and then I heard the two of them leave.
I finished watching the evening news and went downstairs to make myself some dinner. I walked into the parlor and was a little taken a back by the empty Vodka bottle plopped down on my antique table next to the chair where he had been sitting. I threw out the empty Vodka bottle, had dinner and retired to my room for the rest of the evening. I talked myself into believing everything would be okay and I wasn't in any eminent danger. Then I double locked the door, grabbed the phone, and jumped into bed.
The next morning, I was up bright and early making fresh ground coffee, when I heard him coming down the stairs. As he walked into the dining room, I was surprised to see how good he looked in the morning light.
"Thought you'ld have a little trouble getting up for breakfast this morning," I said.
"Why's that?" he asked.
I didn't want to be rude, but decided to tell him what I thought. "Well, you had quite a bit to drink last night. You finished that whole bottle of Vodka."
"Oh that was nothing," he laughed, "I'm a pretty seasoned drinker."
Seasoned drinker, I thought....more like an alcoholic if you ask me. I sort of expected him to ask for a Bloody Mary for breakfast.
Back in the kitchen, I cooked up fabulous vegetable omelets, sour dough toast and bacon. He said he was hungry and had asked if I made omelets.
"I'm a vegetarian you know," he informed me nonchalantly as he asked me to join him for breakfast.
Sitting across the table from him, I wondered just who this man was, who had the gaul to ask if I lived here alone. We exchanged some pleasantries and then he asked another of his now famous personal questions.
"You know," he began, "the jails are jammed packed with prisoners"
"uh huh," I nodded, gobbling up my wonderful eggs.
"How do you feel about that?"
"About all those prisoners?"
Oh my God, I thought, he's trying to get me into a conversation where I expose my position and then he jumps on me and shoves his obsessive ideas down my throat. How do I get out of this?
"Well, well......I... I don't usually get into these kinds of conversations, I stammered, especially at breakfast."
I managed to change the subject. But he just kept on trying to hook me into similar conversations.....politics..... religion.....anything controversial he could think of. Finally he gave up and began talking about himself.
He told me he was an inventor, and through the conversation, I could tell that he was quite creative and intelligent. He also told me he had invented a very hard plastic which had made him the millionaire he was today. Then the conversation switched to Roger, his friend....the one who helped him finish off an entire bottle of Vodka before dinner last night. Roger was a good friend and also an inventor he said.
"Yes, Roger is the one who invented the GPS."
After nearly choking on my last bite of eggs, I repeated "the GPS" Was this guy for real?"The GPS that you put in your car to tell you how to get from one place to another?"
"That's the one" he said nonchalantly.
"How come I've never heard of him?" I asked, "What's his last name?" In my head, I was already on line googling GPS."
"His name is Roger Easton," he answered.
I was suddenly jerked back to reality by the sound of the front door bell. I quickly ran to the door and flung it open. And there he was...... Roger......creator of the GPS.......master inventor........ savior of the navigationally impaired.........in all his glory.
"Hi Roger. Come on in. Want a cup of coffee? How 'bout an omelet?
I never asked Roger directly about his invention, I didn't want to embarrass him, in case it wasn't true. And Mr Evans said no more.
But this is what I found on google: "The evidence shows that Roger Easton invented the GPS and is finally getting credit for it as shown by his receiving the National Medal of Technology (below). Brad Parkinson deserves much credit for his successful development of the system, but neither Brad Parkinson nor Ivan Getting (who also had been given credit) invented it. Further study about GPS has reinforced prior understanding that the Navy had the technology and the Air Force had the money to fund it."
I quickly scanned the picture to see if it was the Roger Easton I had had coffee with that morning at the breakfast table. But it was not; it was a different Roger Easton, the one who had invented the GPS. I don't know who Mr Evans introduced to me to that morning and I guess I never will.