It was almost 7.30pm when the VW polo chugged over the lendal bridge and swept into the centre of York.
A charming guest house was directly opposite the York Minster and trip advisor described it as ‘delightful’ and ‘intriguing’; so Lottie thought she better pop in. After battling with the permit man and almost handing over the keys in plea of desperation; she pushed open the oak door of this rambling house and cooed softly to the wiry historic figure who went by the name of ‘Brian’ according to a dangling name badge on his left breast shirt pocket.
“Hello there, is this Manor Lodge guest house?,” Lottie asked.
A small man, probably no more than 5 foot, shuffled over to Lottie, his hair was soggy and unkempt, a linen shirt (which used to be white) did the best it could to cover his tiny frame and his hands shook uncontrollably as he moved closer towards this new imposter.
“Can’t you read?,” he grunted.
His tone was more abrupt than a train guard trying to catch you out from not paying the full fare. Smugness covered the entirety of his blotchy ale sunken face and he was rude.
“Yes. It’s just that this doesn’t look like the main entrance door that’s all,” Lottie replied.
“Doesn’t it? , Well why don’t you tell my wife that after she has put her sweat and love into this place for over thirty years? Eh?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you. I will tell her it’s very lovely inside, where is she?”, Lottie asked.
“Under the floorboards,” he replied.
“What do you mean?” asked Lottie, her head tilted to one side.
“Whats the matter with you child? Are you thick?,” he spat.
“Excuse me. I have a room booked, the names Lottie Hart.”
“Lottie Hart? Charlotte is it?”
“Yes, but only my father called me that”
“Run off did he? The bastard. Some men really are bastards”
“No. He died”
“Oh I see”
“WOULD YOU LIKE SOME GIN?”
“Love some, thank you”
Brian reaches for a small decanter which balances on a pine side table in the hall. It looks extremely out of place there. The decanter was thick with dust and the glasses chipped and dirty.
“Welcome to Manor Lodge,” he said.
He then smiled and raised his glass to the floor, the air was musty and a cold breeze reached into Lottie’s blouse causing her to flinch and pimples to bobble on her arms. And then the smallest chuckle. Brian chuckles at the floorboards.
“Let me show you your room.” His lip curls up at one end as he shuffles towards the door, the crystal glass clinking in his walk.
End of part one.