Wayne Michael DeHart (August 28, 2022)
(Note: Wrote this at the last minute as a back-up piece in August specifically for a VA-sponsored “Short, Short Story” Competition with a strict 1,000 word limit, which adds context to the closing line. Only allowed to enter one of them, so I stayed with the more unique original one that I spent a lot of time on. And yes, suddenly free of the confinement of a word limit, I tossed in a few proverbial shits ‘n’ giggles after the fact on this one 🙂
The Sneaker Inn is a tranquil 44-room resort on the eastern shore of Waite Lake in Marshfrost, Vermont. Nestled on the lake’s western shore is the Just Waite Bar & Grill. And between the beds and the brewskies lay 237 feet of shallow, clear water. On Friday and Saturday nights in the summer of 2007, with their guests tucked in for the night, five Inn staffers would shed their uniform shirts, shorts and sandals and swim those 79 yards to a grassy area out behind the bistro. They adhered to the axiom that if you drink, you sink, thus they would get some cash from the Buried Chest and buy ice cream and other desserts and sit and shoot the sugar with Willie Waite, the offspring of the eatery’s owner.
In late July, the Inn’s security guard upped and quit without notice. He worked four nights a week at the quiet refuge that catered mostly to artsy New Yorkers and struggling entrepreneurs. The job encompassed mostly walking the property’s perimeter every hour, being alert for the smell of non-recreational smoke, and scooping up stray litter, as in trash, not cat. Easy minimum wage work, sure, but replacing him on short notice was no easy task. Boss Bill called around but found no takers for the gig. (He figured calling it a “gig” might appeal to younger applicants. Who knew?) Driving into town Thursday morning, he ran across (not over) a 40-ish, long-haired, robust stranger. “Hey, wanna job? An easy one?” “Maybe, where at?” “Sneaker Inn, down the road a piece.” A moment of silence ensued.
“Sneak her in, down the road? I don’t know man, sounds shady.” Boss Bill bit his tongue, ’cause he really needed a warm body to show up that night. “No, ‘Sneaker Inn’ is the name of my waterfront motel. I need security Thursday through Sunday nights, ten hour shift. No experience required. No drinking, no smoking, no drugs and no sex with the customers. Clean clothes and comb that hair. Are you in?” “Pay good?’ “No.” Do I get a uniform or somethin’?” “Just a baseball cap with the word “SECURITY” on it.” “Cool, I’m in.” “Okay , you start tonight at 8 sharp. Name?” “Willy, with a ‘y.’ Willy Gillette from up Burlington way.”
When he showed up for work and was introduced to the staff, they guffawed like goobers. That name. What were the odds? Willy with a “y” could have taken umbrage but remained undeterred as they quickly dismissed their spontaneous rudeness, saying it was an inside joke, no harm, no foul. He was certain he could easily and uneventfully complete his assigned duties and sign out promptly at 6 AM. New hat in hand, he humbly, but confidently, began his routine.
At 10 o’clock, the five staffers bade him goodnight and merged into the shadowed shrubbery along the property line. Off came their shirts, shorts, and sandals. Then they waited . . . for Willie to make the 237-foot swim to the eastern shore. That’s Willie, with an “ie.”
Wilhelmina “Willie” Waite.
The five staff members? Cindy, Susie, Amber, Amy and Winnie. Winnie, as in Winnifred Waite, Willie’s twin sister.
The women, all single college students, greeted Willie, who arrived similarly-clad (un-clad?), with sacks of snacks. Nothing unseemly nor untoward happened at these get-togethers, mind you. Jiggles and giggles galore, to be sure, but nothing more. They told tall tales and talked about males – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Willy Gillette finished litter duty and headed out to the perimeter. As he passed through the parking lot on the road side of the Inn, he saw a couple of seedy-looking guys sitting on the hood of the 2006 Inferno Red Dodge Charger that Boss Bill picked him up in earlier that day. Willy was a laid-back dude who shied away from confrontation, so he walked right past them, pretending he didn’t see them due to the darkness. (There were lights in the lot and they were clearly visible, but what the hey, it was a minimum wage deal, right?) He was several steps past them, almost in the clear, when one of them nailed him in the back of the head with something soft and squishy. When he touched his neck, he could feel a sticky substance with a sweet odor. Alas, he had been doughnut-holed, honey-dipped style, by a duo of dirtbags. I shit you not. He lost his cool and went all Billy Jack on both of them, pulling them off the car and stomping the stupid out of those dough nuts in 37 seconds, maybe 38. Then he casually pointed to the front of his cap and mouthed the word “SECURITY” with a squared jaw and glazed eyes. The scofflaws whimpered off into the night, thankful they weren’t denutted for donutting.
Willy took several deep breaths (he WAS 40-ish for cripes sake) before resuming his rounds.
Hearing voices in the bushes en route to the water’s edge, he walked smack dab into the Circle of Six, and was stunned at the sight he beheld there in the night in the stream of his light. He stammered and yammered like McCartney’s fool on a hill. A whimsical Winnie stood, greeted him, and introduced him to her sister. “Willy, this is MY Willie.” The barenaked ladies immediately emitted another round of spontaneous guffaws at the suggestive sound of that introduction, while showing no signs of self-consciousness. Willy was flabbergasted, confused, and uneasy. First night on the job and there he was in a compromising position, scared stiff. He wondered how cottage cheese was made. He wondered what the minimum wage was. He wondered who wrote the book of love.
Well-mannered gentleman that he was, he kept his eyes up, trying to focus on their faces, which unfortunately blended into the surrounding bushes. He turned his flashlight toward the bold letters on his hat, just as he had done with the hood ornaments out front.
“Inn Security, ladies. All appears well. Enjoy the rest of your evening.” He tipped his cap, then sauntered slowly away, suppressing a grateful grin and thinking, “Hell of a gig, Boss Bill. Hell of a gig indeed.”
So goes the short, short story of a Friday night case of the willies, outside the Sneaker Inn, on Lake Waite, in Marshfrost, Vermont.