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The Last Room at the Inn
by Julie Michaelson
12/21/13
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How you are
fallen
from heaven,
O Day Star,
son
of
Dawn!
[Isaiah 14:12]
******************
The innkeeper opened the door,
and stepped outside:
holding a small oil lamp.
The air was cold,
bone-chilling, and damp,
and smelled strongly of the
fresh manure from the stable,
just a ways from his house.

A man was standing there; he was
well-dressed: wearing a long thick
traveling cloak, fine linen robe,
well-shod sandals,
and carrying a sturdy, and
heavy walking-stick.

He was alone: without a beast of
burden, a wife, or any children:
at least not in sight.

The innkeeper nodded a greeting,
though warily; a lone man
could always be a robber, and
it was already after dark. Several
families were in his house, paying
guests, and his coin box was full
of coins. Perhaps he should have
brought his wife's pottery vase
outside with him.
"Yes?
May I...help you?"

The traveler nodded, and smiled
confidently; unlike other travelers,
the man appeared neither hungry
nor weary. He was a well-built, very fine
looking gentleman: perhaps
of young middle-age. But it was
his voice that was so arresting:
it was deep, melodious, oddly
accented. Perhaps he was a singer,
one of the paid entertainers for the
Romans, up in Jerusalem.
"Good evening.....my kind sir!"
The man calmly pulled off his hood:
his hair was well-kept, very thick
and dark: with no traces of gray,
or dusty traveling soot. Unlike
most of the men coming to the
innkeeper's door, he was cleanly shaven, and
had fine rings on his uncalloused
hands.

Ah, yes. The innkeeper thought;
nodding to himself. A Roman,
or perhaps a Greek entertainer,
traveling on his way to the city,
for a party at the governor's palace,
or perhaps even Herod's house,
himself. This man didn't have
the brutish look of a criminal,
and certainly hadn't had that
hard of a life: his hands and
face were smooth, and unlined.
Ah, yes; an entertainer at the
house of Herod, perhaps.
"Looking for a room, sir?"

The entertainer smiled: nodding,
politely. When he spoke, he
almost seemed as if to break
out in melodious song.
"Yes, my fine sir! And....I
hear that you have the last room
to be rented, this very cold
evening!"

The innkeeper nodded. Probably
so, he thought. He pulled his
garment about his neck, and
beckoned for the fellow to come
inside; a chill wind was blowing, and
he had stepped outside to greet
the traveler, due to the late
hour.

But the man didn't move; he seemed
completed unaware of the
chill wind, the damp air,
or the lateness of the hour. He
was standing on the steps of the
innkeeper's house as if it were
the middle of an early summer's
day, with only a warm breeze
blowing. He smiled, and shook
his head. He lifted one hand;
his nails were clean,
the skin on his hand was finely textured,
without scrapes, or cuts, or scars:
as if accustomed to holding beautiful
goblets of wine,
and beautiful, wealthy women.
Not surly enough to be a Roman
official or high-ranking soldier.
A well-paid entertainer, to be sure.
"No matter! I know that your
guest room is finely kept!"
The man pulled out a cloth bag;
it was obviously full of heavy coins.
"Here! I want to....RENT...
that room of yours, sir!"

The innkeeper stared at the bag.
Had he fallen asleep? Perhaps
he was still sitting by the fire,
dozing off in his chair, and was
simply dreaming. He shook his
head, as if clearing it of cobwebs.

The handsome man just chuckled;
he appeared not uncomfortable at
all, in the wintry wind, and the
innkeeper was just trying to keep
his teeth from chattering.
"Take it, my good sir!"
He held out the small, though heavy,
clean bag. Most travelers' bags
were well-worn, dirty, torn
a bit at their edges,
and smelled of dead animal.

What else to do....but take
the bag? The innkeeper held
out his hand, and took it: hefting
it, instinctively.

"Open it, sir!"
The man's voice was undiminished
by the wintry wind; it was clear,
and strong.
"All accounted for!"
And, he named the price.

"Excuse me, sir. For one moment!"
And the innkeeper opened his
door, and stepped back inside:
he had to count the money...
perhaps, after all, there was
nothing inside but a bunch of
very small pebbles. Perhaps
it was all a ruse: some dreadful
joke of some kind.

Inside, the innkeeper hushed,
and shooed away his curious wife, and carefully
laid out the cloth bag: counting
every coin, and then counting
them again.

For once his wife was even
speechless. They just looked
at one another, and then back
at all the coins. His wife made
an impatient gesture toward
the door; she whispered,
"Go! GO!"

The innkeeper merely nodded,
as if he were in the middle of
his dream, and backed out towards
their door. He slipped back outside;
the wind was howling as ever.
"Uh, yes, sir! Well....come in,
then. Yes....,
do...come in!"

The man smiled as if greatly
satisfied.
"No thank you. I merely...
wish for you to hold the room...
for me, tonight. Will you promise
to do that for me,
....my good sir?"

The innkeeper nodded quickly.
His teeth were chattering again,
and he just wanted to get back
inside.
"Yes! Of course! I am at your
service! What else....can I
do for you, kind sir?"

"Just..."
The handsome man smiled; his
dark eyes glittered with pleasure.
"Keep this...to ourselves...hm?"

"Yes, sir!
Yes....sir!"
The innkeeper nodded with the
respect of a dutiful servant. The
man turned to walk away, when
the innkeeper spoke up, rather
hesitantly.
"Sir? I just have one question
to ask of you....if you please,
sir. I noticed....well, it seems
to be...you have a good.. VOICE!
You are a singer, perhaps?
Or....an entertainer?"

For just a moment, the gentleman's
eyes lost their friendliness: they
seemed like dark holes....with no
light, or life, in them at all. Then,
as if remembering himself, the
man swiftly shook his head, and
smiled. His good humor was back.
"Oh....no, sir. Though, you do
have a good ear. I used to sing
once....very long ago...
in fact..."
The man's eyes glittered once more.
He chuckled softly,
as if thinking of a pleasurably
delicious secret.
"I was the star....
of..
the Choir."
***************************
Your heart was proud,
because
of your beauty....
I cast you
to
the
ground.
[Ezekiel 28:17]

Copyright 2013.



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