Sleep was a long time coming that night. The bed was fine but he didn’t know what to make of his host. To make matters worse she stayed up long after he had gone to bed and he could hear her on the phone again. He crept to the door and tried to make out what she was saying but the words were muffled.
Each time he would start to drift off he would hear strange sounds that seemed to be coming from right outside his room. He began to imagine her standing by the door doing god only knew what. At last he fell into a fitful sleep and dreamed of being pursued by an invisible beast.
The next morning he had trouble waking up. He lay in bed opening and closing his eyes, willing himself to get up but not quite managing. All at once he became certain he was being watched. He turned onto his back and opened his eyes to find his host standing by the bed with a frying pan in her hand. Startled, he sat up wide-eyed and stared at her.
“Well good morning young man. I thought you might be awake. I was just about to make some bacon and eggs. Sound good?” She held up the frying pan and gave him what he could only think of as a creepy smile.
“Um, yeah sure. I could eat.”
“Great. If you’d like a shower there’s fresh towels in there for you.”
With that she marched out of the room swinging the frying pan from side to side. When he came out of the shower he got dressed and had a look out the window. He was dismayed. It was bucketing down. Hard, driving rain and wind so strong the drops were just about going sideways. He headed for the kitchen, following his nose to the wonderful smell.
“There you are. Listen, I made you some pancakes too. Gotta keep your strength up young man.”
He thanked her and sat down as she poured him a tall glass of fresh milk. The food was wonderful. He hadn’t eaten anything so good in nearly a month and he couldn’t keep from wolfing it down. She beamed at him across the table as he ate.
“So then. Have you had a look outside yet? I’m afraid it’s not great weather for hitchhiking young man.”
“Yeah, I saw. It’s okay, I’ll manage.”
“Oh, I don’t think so. I think you’d better stay here until it passes, thought that could be another day or two. Weather report says we’re really in for it.”
“Oh, I couldn’t impose, really.”
“Nonsense. To tell you the truth I get a bit lonely. You’re staying here, I won’t have it any other way.”
He looked at her across the table and could swear he saw hardness in her eyes that belied her cheery tone. What the hell had he gotten himself in to?
“Besides”, she smiled sweetly, “those Harris boys will know you haven’t left town yet and they can be a bit single minded I’m afraid.”
Uneasy as he was he couldn’t deny the logic of what she was saying. Standing out in the driving rain was not a pleasant prospect, especially if he had to keep and eye out for those rowdy assholes that had tried to kick the shit out of him. A full belly and a nice warm house won out over his unease. He told her he would do the dishes and then she could find some other chores for him so he could earn his keep.
She told him he was a sweet boy and toddled off to the living room.
Part 3 Tomorrow