Front Desk

by Susan Whitlock

“What should I put for my address?” the chubby boyfriend, introduced as Trevor, asked. He stared at Beatrice with glazed, muddy brown eyes.

            “Excuse me?” she replied to his hundredth question.

            “ I never filled out a job application before. Do I put where I stay in Ada sometimes, or my girlfriend’s place here in Neosho?” he continued, tipping his head in the direction of the petite new housekeeper, Allison.

            Allison swallowed some emotional soup but said nothing.

            “Just put where you want your mail to arrive,” Beatrice said. “I really need to get this paperwork done.”

            Trevor was not impressed with her professional needs.

            “Well, I just don’t know. I never had a job, so this is all new to me.” His pasty white face was covered with perspiration, oozing oils, and a film of dust from the hot, Missouri streets.

            Beatrice attempted to ignore him now, busily typing in statistics for the general manager’s monthly report. She had just completed training for the assistant general manager position at Neosho Residence Inn.

            A sigh escaped her pretty, pouting lips.

            “What?!” Trevor glared at her, raising his voice so all the lobby could hear him. “Am I bothering you?”

            He emphasized this question by slamming his fist down on his application.

            “Do you have a problem with me because I am dating Allison? Is that it?”

            “Please, lower your voice,” Beatrice whispered, leaning over the front desk to calm him down by staring gently into his crazy eyes.

            “I am not shouting!” Trevor shouted. Now heads were turning to watch the drama unfolding in their hotel lobby. One grey-haired woman began fanning herself with her visitor’s guide.

            “Pipe down,” Glenna, Beatrice’s head housekeeper and favorite employee said. She was on her way to the laundry when she caught this blast from old Trevor.

            She glanced at Allison standing helplessly behind the front desk. They exchanged meaningful looks, which Beatrice made a mental note to investigate later.

            In the meantime, strange things were taking place in Trevor’s soul, evidenced by a little prancing in place and some random arm flings.

            “Sheeite! You are just like my last job…judging me and acting all high and mighty!”

            Spit was starting to fly from his foaming mouth and his eyes were beginning to bulge like a severe thyroid problem had evolved right there in her hotel.

            “I am confused,” Beatrice let slip, “I thought you said you never had a job before…”

            Trevor began jigging up and down, looking like the world’s oiliest marionette. A throbbing moan began issuing from his throat. Beatrice was reminded of her neighbor’s horrid pit bull, and she inched back a bit in self-defense. Allison inched with her, a little whine singing out from her own throat.

            “If you would just finish the application over in the dining area, Allison can take a few minutes to help you finish filling it out,” she offered the jittering boyfriend in a professional tone.

            Allison started to step around the desk to guide Trevor to the area indicated when a fresh storm began to swell his sails.

            “Oh, hell no!” he announced to one and all. “You mothers are not going to put that on me. Like I can’t fill out your damn application by myself. What do you think I am some moron or something?”

            His decibel level now was reaching people out on the front walk. Beatrice’s maintenance man, Tim, slipped through the automatic doors and glided over behind Trevor.

            “Keep it up, fat boy,” he growled. “The cops are on their way.”      

            Trevor whirled around, smashing into Allison, and sending her reeling. This caused Tim to grow about four inches and loom over Trevor, prepared to end this nonsense once and for all.

            “Tim!” Beatrice hissed, “Don’t do it.”

            Tim bristled but rocked back on his heels.

            “O, no, no, no, no way!” Trevor sputtered in response.

            His feet stopped dancing and began pedaling rapidly towards the doors. Bursting into the summer sauna, he crashed into his little Pinto, which he had left running at the curb. The key fob in his jeans pocket must have been accidentally depressed because the doors suddenly locked. Trevor spent frantic minutes alternately clawing at the door handle and screaming for the Pinto to let him in.

            Inside, Beatrice suddenly snorted in a knee-jerk amusement at these antics. The little cavalcade of onlookers moved as one person towards the glass doors and windows to watch the conclusion of this unexpected entertainment.

            Trevor’s head shot up at the sound of police sirens careening toward him in the distance. With one more forlorn look at his traitor car, he began racing like a madman down the street. His long, greasy braids were hip-hopping to some tune as they streamed along behind him. His gangster jeans began slipping downward, causing one hand to grip his back pocket, the other flailing over his heated head.

            Beatrice could not help it. A grin spread over her lips, over her cheeks, and wrapped around her soul. She began laughing merrily and simply returned to the front desk to finish her paperwork.           

            “Meth heads,” Tim sighed as he joined Beatrice at the front desk, “Gotta love ‘em.”

            “Do I now?” Beatrice hummed a bit as she clacked away at her keyboard.

            “Are we safe?” the granny inquired when she sidled over to join them.

            “Of course!” Beatrice assured her. “Here, a coupon for one coffee and a muffin at our bakery – for your trouble.”

            “Does this kind of thing happen a lot?” another guest asked, after receiving the extra towels he had come down for twenty minutes ago.

            Beatrice gazed straight-faced into the gentleman’s eyes and lied her head off.


            Her smile warmed the man, as did her sparkling eyes. This was her bailiwick – her forte – making people feel safe, welcomed: downright loved during their brief stopover from the road of their lives.

            This was her kingdom – Residence Inn. Neosho MO. Assistant general manager: Front Desk.

Susan Whitlock lives in southeastern Kansas. Grand Dame will publish her tale entitled The Archer’s Ball online on 7/11/22. Until Then, the Garden was published by Heimet online on April 15, 2023. Her first novel will be published by Indignor House in Spring 2024.

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