Night Bell

The two main guys in the "Wilfair" books are at the beck 'n call of the Motel Fairwil night bell.

Motels, like hospitals and a few all-night restaurants, rarely close (turning on the "No Vacancy" sign is one way motel families get some rest, but even that doesn't stop hopeful travelers from trying the bell).

Gomery and Monty trade off listening for the bell, so their moms don't have to wake up. Gomery, though, often responds on Monty's nights, providing one of the cousins' few known sources of friction.

I like to think about what Gomery might talk about with the strangers he's greeting in a professional way just minutes after he's awoken. He's probably still inside a dream as he describes how a room's bathtub works or how to operate the television's remote control or what kinds of credit cards the motel takes.

People never tip him for greeting them at 3 a.m., and Gomery wouldn't take the cash. His tip usually comes in the form of a back pat or compliment. Guests will say how swell he is for waking up and carrying their luggage, and he likely demurs or says it's standard Fairwil service. He feels a little crankier than he lets on, and sometimes like an outright chump.

Mostly though, he's simultaneously attempting to stay awake enough to be courteous while not losing whatever dream he was having and might return to in five minutes.

photo: taberandrew


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