Saturday, October 2, 2010
The Windswept (H&M) 'otel
Just to prove a point, Lee Jones entered the following in the "Free Ads" section of the Villager.
"Have van-truck for hire, will pick up and deliver, will transport goods and packages, will taxi too, 7 days a week, fair rates, call 207 375-21xx, Ask for Lee"
The Villager is a weekly rag filled with local news items for the harbor islands and adjacent mainland. The paper is supported by the advertising revenue from the various and sundry tourist related businesses, not the least of which was the Windswept, a 52 unit hotel/motel. The sign outside advertised "Windswept" in blue neon and "_otel" in red neon below the blue tubing. The space before "otel" was designed to flash with an alternating "H" and "M",
but that engineering wonder has been defunct for a while. Lee used to work at the Windswept as the evening desk man. He worked there until he got caught doing Mrs. Finespot. The Finespots, Skip and Julie, own the open year round 'otel.
Lee Aloysius Jones is native to the harbor islands. As he put it, he "was bred, born and raised in the rocks". Locals like Lee called the harbor islands "the rocks" because, as might be guessed, the islands are rocky. The rocks there are grayish, mostly, and igneous. Lee didn't know what igneous meant, but some geologist named Mark said that the rocks were formed by the heating and cooling of magma. Mark had been a guest at the Windswept a couple of summers ago. Lee, as is his wont, passes information along and he often told guests that the rocks were igneous and that they were the product of cooled smegma. Oh well.
Since he was "let go" by the Finespots, Lee Jones has been hanging out at the Blue Balls Pub,
a hole in the wall gin joint on Water Street. The Blue Balls is just a hop, skip and a jump from the Windswept (which is on Wind Street), so it is not unusual for Lee to see Julie coming and going. Wind runs along the waterfront and Water meets Wind at a seventy-five degree angled intersection. The Finespots live in the house up the hill from their 'otel. From the picture window of their living room, Skip and Julie enjoy a fine view of the out islands and the sunsets. Indeed, Lee knows.
Most of the locals, who hang out at the BB, are seasonal workers. The economy of the rocks is based on a three month run til you drop season and a nine month skien of not much to do. The guys collect unemployment in the off season, claiming there is no work. One day last week, Lee was making the argument that a guy, who hustles, can make a buck anywhere, even during the rock's off season. Positing that there was still a small off season population on the rocks and the nearby mainland, Lee theorized he could earn decent cash as a delivery man/courier/driver or whatever. Rich Smelin and Billy Grabowitz, Lee's longtime friends and fellow rockers, bet Lee he couldn't make more than $100 a week. And so the boys wagered (a steak dinner at the CHOP CHOP on the mainland on Hargitay Street). Lee had twelve weeks, that is October through December, to prove his point.
Lee Jones hasn't married, yet, but he is hopeful. Being forty-four, he has come close a few times, well, really only once. Her name was Simmie Landreau and she, too, worked at the Windswept. They had gotten close to the flame, hardware was offered and accepted, until the day Simmie Landreau read an article about Key West, FL. The Villager sometimes ran such interest stories. Simmie was a big fan of Jimmy Buffet
and after learning about the hubba-hubba of the Conch Republic, Simmie's wanderlust overcame her. She left Lee a note in which she said,
"Lee, Love may fail, but nothing lasts forever. I still like you, yeah, but here's your ring. Find somebody else, who can use it. Don't call me or anything, I am going to New Orleans, Simmie".
Simmie Landreau put the note and the $250 faux diamond ring in a business envelope, which said Windswept Hotel/Motel on the left upper corner. She left it at the desk, so that Lee would see it when he came to work at PM3. That was one year ago. Oh, Lee really does think Simmie went to the Crescent City. To this day, he still talks of going to Louisiana. She fooled him, ahem, and she made a fool of him, too. Women...
Lee and Julie Finespot started six months ago. It was the first week in April and Skip and a buddy decided to trailer their bikes down to Daytona. The two of them began a three week tear through Florida, down the Atlantic side to Key West, then back up, across Alligator Alley, up the Gulf side and then back across the Sunshine State through Orlando to Daytona. Two men, two bikes, twenty nights and twenty-one days. And one woman in Key West. Whaddya think happened there? Yup, the two of them earned their wings.
In the meantime, things at the Windswept were seasonally slow. The 'otel averaged fifteen rentals during the week and twenty-five room sales on weekends. It was April
and it was a ripe time for Lee and Julie. Lee, being still in the throes of Simmie's rejection and Julie smarting from Skipper's boy bonding, left the pair with not much else to do but to hook up. And they did. In reality, it wasn't as if it was great for either of them, but it was good. With Spring in the air, the spate of unseasonably warm days led to a state of frenzy. By the second week of Skip's sojourn, Lee and Julie were at it several times a day. Lee spent the nights with Julie in the "big house". And so it went.
After Skip's return, Lee and Julie kept up their liaison, sneaking and skulking as best they could. As expected, they could never reach their April high note again. Too bad for Lee that Julie had a temper and a set of loose lips. After one particularly nasty toe to toe with Skip in August, Julie let the cuckold know that she was getting tune ups outside of their zip code. This set Skip off on a hunt and with the help of the Windswept front desk camera records, Lee was deemed by Skip to be in flagrante delicto.
Skip called a meeting. Julie and Lee denied. The footage of the front desk area showed the two of them being "friendly", but there was no hard evidence. It's not like they ever used the front office like they used used rooms 26, 37 and 4. Or like they used the big house's hot tub, living room couch and master bedroom. Or like they used the 'otel's poolside chaises and Lee's van. No, nothing like that. But "friendly" footage coupled with Skip's jealousy led to Lee's dismissal on Labor Day. Officially, Lee was laid off due to "seasonal slowing", making him able to collect unemployment benefits.
The sound of Lee's ringtone (the song Toxic by Britney Spears)
interrupted Lee and Billy as they threw darts. Neither of them was good at darts, but they tried. The wall of the BB was filled with the holes of the errant tosses of Lee and Billy.
("Hi, my name is Ray Rice, I'm calling about the delivery service.")
"Yup, sure, what can I do fer yu?"
("Well, Mr. Lee, I need to git a dining room set from Prescoe's Department Store to Rainbow Island, 378 Lantern Way.")
"Is that Prescoe's on Price on the mainland?"
("Yeah, Price and Young Streets.)
("That wud be great. How much yu charge?)
"$25 an hour, plus the ferry fare, roughly take 3 hours, so $75 plus $25, could be more or less, dependin..."
("OK, we got a deal, here's my number, 207 645-18xx")
"Alright, I'll call yu in the morning to confirm, oh, cash only..."
("Good, no problem, bye")
Lee Jones looked over at Billy. He put the pointed missile between his thumb and index finger. As he released, he felt as if he just hit a homer. The feeling that you get when the bat and the ball meet at the sweet spot. Bingo, bulls eye,
Lee tossed the dart into the heart of the board. Lee and Billy clinked their Corona bottles. Life is good. And so it goes.