Wilfair Prequel: April First

The couple struggled through the revolving door. No bellmen were to be found, so I joined the pair and helped them heave their overly large suitcase through the creaky spinning entrance.       

“Oof, welcome to The Wilfair, just, erf. Erf. First trip to California?” I pulled and heaved and came to a stop near the lobby’s flower spray. “We’ll get you checked in right over there, next to the mint dish. Have a mint.” 

I twirled and caught sight of my brothers running toward the 500 Dip Bar. Hmm. That can’t be good. Then I spotted someone waving at me through the hotel’s back entrance.            

Monty Overbove.           

Hmm, part two.           

Poking my head out the backdoor, I squinted in the springtime sun. “Yes?”

“You busy?” He placed his hands in the backpockets of jeans, waiting.

“Busy? Oh no. I’m just hanging around the lobby in this costume doing nothing whatsoever.” My outfit was something a little too “My Fair Lady,” though happily it was the outfit Eliza wears around the library with Professor Higgins and not the one she swans about in at the racetrack, which was gorgeous but far too puffed-of-sleeve for everyday wear.

“And you are...? I’m going to guess someone from a musical. ‘Seven Brides’?”

“Eliza Doolittle.”

Monty clapped. “Perfect! Okay, Miss Doolittle, the Professor has something to teach you. Come out here at once. At once!”

“I’m busy.” I puffed one of my deflated sleeve tops, annoyed. “Why aren’t you working?”

“Oh, I’m working. I’m making a guest’s day. Something he’ll talk about forever. Come out here and see.”

In the distance, Bo yelped a happy yelp.

“Are my brothers over at the motel?”

“Yep yep. Get out here.”

Hmph. So that’s where they were running to. Sneaking into the motel via the 500 Dip Bar and the secret passage into the motel’s diner, hoping to evade my notice.

 “Will this take long? I mean. Like.” I glanced behind me at the lobby. Guests were busy, employees were bustling, and I stood by the back entrance in a high-necked Victorian costume, furtively whispering at the man next door about nothing in particular and wondering what nefarious doings my brothers were up to at the motel.

Monty spread his arms. “Five minutes. Five minutes to change your life. C’mon, Fair! If you reject that, then you’re just a rejecting rejecter who rejects everything.”

With one more over-the-shoulder glance, I slipped out of the hotel and met Monty under the citrus topiaries. I didn’t accept his offered, “join me” hand, but I did follow him around the pool and toward my brothers’ voices. They stood outside Room 106, prancing and jumping and burning off energy.

As was Montgomery Y. Overbove, a person twice their age but with no less of their joie de vivre. “All right, gentlemen, ready? Let’s have some noise!” Monty stood as straight as a movie lobby standee and held up a high five. Two smaller hands quickly met his with great slappy-sounding slaps.

I peeked inside the worn motel room, with its chipped enamel lamp, thin curtains, and mocha-colored carpet, a carpet that balded the closer it got to the walls.

The queen-sized bed was completely free of any sheets. Wrinkling my nose, I yawned a theatrical  yawn. “Really, I have to get back. Geez. Look at the time.” I glanced down at the invisible wristwatch on my bare wrist. A half second later, a forearm appeared next to my arm, and on it, a real wristwatch.

“You’ve got five minutes, right?” asked Gomery. “Everyone usually does.” He held a pile of sheets against his opposite hip. “Save people perhaps in battle, in childbirth, or maybe a competitive situation, like a race. Time changes in stressful situations, it’s been proven.” He shook his head and smiled. “But this isn’t a stressful situation, I hope.”

“Let’s do this!” clapped Bo, emulating Monty to a T.

“So, Fair. Do you know what a Special Room is?” Monty waggled his eyebrows.

“Like a suite?”

“Not an expensive room. Not a room only a few deep-pocketed people can enjoy. I’m talking about the Special Room. Capital S, capital R. The Special Room, which is both special. And a room. Dun dun dun.”


“It’s Motel Fairwil’s cherry on top of the cherry. Since we have so much to offer here --” Monty’s hand swept across the tired, cramped room “ – we feel we have to go the distance. So once and awhile we offer one special guest the Special Room, and always on the first of April.”

“Uh-oh,” I uh-oh’d.

“Fair, do you know how to short sheet a bed? Scratch that. Have you ever made a bed? Not in your head. Here, in the world.” He spread his hands to all of reality.

“Shyeah I have,” I countered, ignoring Bo’s raised eyebrow. “Do you mean like making it when I wake up in the morning and putting the blanket over it or making it from scratch?”

“Called it, in the place in my brain where I call everything with nearly laser-sharp accuracy.” Monty tapped his head. He then stepped to the side of the bed and squared his shoulders. “So. Lesson one. How to short sheet a bed.”

“Yippee!” called my brothers, running into the room and jumping on the bare bed.

“Oh no. No. Please don’t show them this,” I said, watching Gomery set the sheets on a chair and depart the room. “They know how to break into The Wilfair’s linen closets. Our guests. Our poor, unfortunate guests.”

“Childhood 101,” protested Monty. “Hey Finleys. Hands in. Now.” The motelier beckoned my shiny-faced brothers to the edge of the bed, where they stuck their flattened hands out. Monty placed his hand in the circle, then quickly raised it. “One two three go team!” My brothers, wide-eyed, raised their hands, too. “Firework fingers,” said Monty, demonstrating how to properly close a get-fired-up movement.

“Did you one two three go team without me?” Gomery stood in the doorway and made a sad face. He placed the two pillows he’d returned with on the bed.  

“Aw man! Okay, again. Don’t forget the firework fingers, Finleys. The magic of teamwork doesn’t take without the ending flourish. Science fact.” Monty put his hand out. My brothers excitedly followed suit, then Gomery.

“Fair,” said Wil, nodding at the hand pile.

I sighed, nodded, and placed my hand atop Gomery’s, the pad of my thumb coming to rest upon his wrist knob. “One two three go team!”

“We say it together, Eliza Doolittle,” Professor Monty Higgins explained. “Okay, now!”

Two small boys and two young men and one Fair Lady summoned team spirit and then turned to the age-old, highly important task of short-sheeting a bed.

Shrugging off my part, I plopped on the nearby chair. “See, I really don’t agree with this. Pretty much everyone everywhere hates getting into a bed where the sheets are all wonky.”

“It’s the Special Room,” said Gomery, handing me a pillowcase and indicating I should open it. He picked up a pillow but forewent placing it under his chin as he slid it into the pillowcase. I handed him the squishy rectangle. He fluffed it, tossed it onto the dresser, and handed me the other pillowcase. Together, we squished the second pillow into its case and mutually fluffed it with far more gusto than a small pillow requires.

Brain folder opened, mutual pillow-squishing stored. Label? Pure Pleasure.

Monty paused by the headboard. “The Special Room is special because of this: Everyone wants the Special Room. In life. Whatever that means to them. Now the Special Room here at the motel means different things at different times of the year, but on April first? The bed is always short-sheeted. It’s tradition.” Monty went to the end of the bed with the fitted sheet. “Now watch closely, Finleys. Here’s the lesson. You’ll want to put the fitted sheet on like a fitted sheet normally goes on. Normal and crap.”

I coughed, loudly.

“Sorry, no swearing. Swearing is for losers and for me, because it’s fun. I mean it’s awful and wrong.” He shot me a guilty look. “Okay, Finleys, continuing. See the flat sheet, the one on top? That gets tucked into the top of the mattress, like so. Then you fold up, easy, so when the guest gets into bed they get trapped in this fold. Then laughter ensues. Because they got the Special Room.”

“Won’t the guest be mad? They got tricked?” I was dubious.

“Here’s the thing. When people check into the motel on April first, we tell them one of the rooms – only one – contains an April Fools’ joke. And you know, what Fair?”

“They all want that room,” I said, nodding.

“They all do,” confirmed Gomery, smoothing his tie.

“The Special Room,” nodded Monty. “Because it is special. It doesn’t matter that they have to get out of bed and fix their sheets, they’re happy because they know they got the only room of its kind in the motel. They got the Special Room.”

“Some guests are kind of angry when they check out on April 2nd if they didn’t get the Special Room,” laughed the man in the glasses. “Even if they know they didn’t get pranked. It’s psychology at work.”

“Way too deep for April Fools’ Day,” complained Monty. “Anyway, the Special Room is ready. Now we just need a guest to check in tonight.”

Wil and Bo stood rapt, listening to the adults discuss the psychology of Special Rooms, short-sheeted beds, and April Fools’ Day. Then my little brothers checked over the bed once more, giggled, put their hands together and had an intra-brother one two three go team. With that, they skipped out the door.

“Boys! Don’t go. Wait! Don’t go short-sheeting Wilfair beds. Make me a deal. You can short-sheet my bed however much you like, but if I hear that you--. Boys!” My shoulders dropped. “They’re gone. Great. Sorry, angry Wilfair guests. I mean, hooray, Happy April Fools’ Day! Which is now going to be every single day of the year at the hotel!”

“Thank me later,” Monty waved, blushing.

We stood staring at the deceptive bed.

“Well. Back to work.” My voice was slightly empty. “This was, um. Something that took five minutes. As promised.”

Out the door, in the near distance, someone splashed in the pool.

“Well,” said Gomery.

“Well,” said Monty. “Say, Fair? Having you stop by when you’re not all complainy and difficult is a rare pleasure. Come by again for more Special Room demonstrations.”

“Is that the verbal equivalent of short-sheeting my bed?”

“What?” Monty frowned.

“April Fools’ joke?”

Gomery’s forehead scrunched into its classic pi sign. “No joke. Come by.”

“Maybe you can invent reasons for me to come over, ‘cause I might just feel weird coming over and, like. Standing here.” I fidgeted. “I get, like. Like. Whatever. If I don’t have anything to talk about. Like right now.”

Monty looked at Gomery. “Yeah, we’ll have to invent reasons for Fair Finley to come over, since she can’t just do it on her own. That’s a really, really good idea.”

Gomery rubbed his chin. “Hmm. What if. No, we couldn’t do that.”

Monty nodded. “What if we told her we short-sheeted one bed every April Fools’ Day, and gave her a demo?”

His cousin smiled. “But we’d have to tell her that we actually don’t short-sheet beds, because short-sheeting beds actually does upset our guests. And it would be cruel to let her leave, believing that.”

The popcorn box clapped. “Let’s not tell her. We want her to think of us as inventive as The Wilfair when it comes to entertaining our guests.”

Gomery smiled in my direction. “All right. Let’s let her think we’re smarter than we really are.”

Monty strode out of the room. “And don’t tell her that the next time we summon her for something random the reason’ll likely be fabricated, on the spot, that morning, as we congratulate ourselves on being crafty.” He twirled an invisible mustache.

I followed. “So. Wait. Oof. My brain. This wasn't real?” 

“The first joke's never the joke, Fair. Classic puzzle-box movie!”

“And, like. Now my brothers really know how to short-sheet a bed! This joke that was actually another joke really in actuality gave Wil and Bo some very unneeded knowledge! That they will be acting upon, in the hotel, with tired paying guests, people who just want to crawl into a normal bed, people who will not understand the backstory of all of this! Fabulous.”

“Happy April First, Miss Finley,” waved Monty as he headed into the diner. “Which was the joke, and which was real? Rhetorical question. I think you got it. You're smarter than me and Mer here, put together.”

“But. But.” I stopped. 

Gomery stopped next to me, leaned in, and dropped his voice. “Next week, when Monty waves you over to discuss the new towels we’re thinking of buying and get your input…”

“You’re not buying new towels.” I cocked a brow.

“Nope. Our decade-old towels still work. Sort of.” He smiled. “But you didn’t hear it from me.”      

“Are we colluding?" I whispered, staring not at his eyes but the freckles just above and below his division sign mouth.          

“Damn straight we're colluding," Gomery whispered. "One two three go team."

The diner door cracked. Monty’s head poked out. “Hey Fair Finley! Nearly forgot. The motel might buy new towels, if we have enough cash in the jar, so maybe you can stop by in a few days and discuss thread count? Would love to get your fancy input on stitching and stuff.”

I thumbs’d-up him. The devious plotter beamed and returned to the diner, clearly smug that his next clockwork scheme had been set in motion. The man next to me, the very person who had slipped me the key to that particular clock, and the plan's secret schematics, too, grinned, put a “shhh” finger to his lips, then turned and strode into the Motel Fairwil lobby.

Gomery's color was notably high and his spirit satisfied, like mine. Two fools.

Go team, indeed.


Erika said...

This made me so happy!

Wilfair Book said...

Awww, nice.

Caitlin is to thank. She mentioned April Fools' Day in a note this morning and I was like "yeah, there should be something on the blog for April 1st!"

And then there was. :)

Wilfair Book said...

Basically if a reader drops me a line and says "hey, Alysia, I'd like to see something about this on the blog" I'll probably jot something up.

It's just science fact.

Caitlin said...

Haha, the whole story is that I actually suggested Alysia post something totally wrong and bill it as a "Fairwil" preview, to trick everyone visiting the blog. Yes, I am secretly a horrible person. This is 1000% better.

Now I really want an excuse to use either "rejecting rejecter who rejects everything" or "did you just 'one two three go team' without me" in conversation.

Wilfair Book said...

Caitlin: You are not horrible. You are wonderful. 1000% true.

I *could* put something up that's all like "this is a 'Fairwil' preview, guyz!" but then I'd ruin it by going into the comments five seconds later and being like "nahhh, leg-pullin' time!"

And then people would be like "Alysia! Ya need to get out more, stat!"

It obvs. was all written on the spur-of-the-Caitlin this morning, so I'm glad a few lines shone through.

Gomery standing in the doorway sad-facing the line "did you just 'one two three go team' without me" is a very clear image for me, so that theme/line will probably get revisited somehow.

Brain folder opened, labeled, stored.

myrandaroyann said...

Ha, I love this!

Wilfair Book said...

Thanks, Myranda! I saw a min pin the other day and thought of you. Hope you're great.

do dah said...

definitely read "are we colluding?" as "are we cuddling?" apparently my inner freud is very PG. (is that a rating that still gets put on movies? they redesigned the system and i didn't care, and now i may sound outdated)

Wilfair Book said...

do dah: That was intentional. :)

And another reader said the same thing. Hooray! I'm so excited.

I actually do stuff like that a little bit in the books. Oh yes I do. Shhh. Secrets.

Does the mystery reader want to weigh in?

Caitlin said...

Yup, totally read "colluding" as "cuddling" here as well! Twice, even.

Kelly said...

This was lovely and unexpected, and I also read colluding as cuddling! My only problem with it is that now I'm feeling all greedy and impatient for more, and Fairwil is still much too far away.

Amanda W said...

"Go team, indeed."

this line gave me a major case of the swoons. Thank you for posting this! It's perfect.

Wilfair Book said...

Caitlin: :) You!!! Yes, you.

Kelly! I feel this, too. Trying to invent a machine to have the next book done by last Tuesday.

But I'm thinking of little extras I can do here on the blog, too.

Amanda: Thank you! This blog is very one two three go team to me.

Best Blogger TipsBest Blogger Tips