Just when he'd heard that ridiculous song bursting from behind the closed door of the Great Parlor, Laurence saw Caroline Sheridan barreling towards him from across the lawn. She stormed up the steps and he raced to meet her at the door.
"Missus Sheridan!" he said.
"Miz Sheridan, if you please, Laurence. The phones in the teahouse have gone and my cell died." Caroline took in the boy's dishevel. "What in heaven is the matter with you?"
"It's the weather!" Laurence blurted. "The security office has been trying to reach you for forty minutes!"
"Okay, okay." Caroline glanced around hurriedly, then pulled him off the main drag of the lobby. Around a corner was an abrupt hallway opening on a line of dark old phonebooths. She pushed him up against the wall and asked him to slow down and give it all to her carefully.
"Warm front," the boy said, "or -- or no -- cold front -- or ... "
"Stop it!" Caroline cried. "I have too many things ... Just ..." She caught her breath. "You silly boy, now you've got me doing it. Everything is all right, we are in control, and I will handle it. Now ... one word ... at ... a time."
"SNOW!" Laurence cried. "I'm ... I'm sorry, Missus -- Miz Caroline, er, Miz Sheridan, but ... it's snow! There's a blizzard, a blizzard that's supposed to hit us tomorrow. They ... they knew there was moisture, then a few hours ago they knew it was going to be snow, and sometime since it's just grown and it's grown and it's huge! And it's a blizzard, and they think ... they think that maybe New Paltz will be completely socked in!"
Caroline had to catch her breath. Blizzard?! Those damn, those goddamn state park people would insist they evacuate. There'd be ten kinds of pandemonium. Caroline looked at the boy and wanted to choke the life out of him on the spot.
"They'll close us," she hissed.
"Yes, ma'am, that's what Bill Wingot in security said."
"You haven't told anyone else? You can keep a secret, I trust?"
Laurence gulped. "Y-yes, Miz Sheridan. I really need this job, Miz Sheridan. You're -- you're not going to--?"
"Oh, look, never mind. Just stop running or I will fire you." She composed herself, and then gave a deep sigh that seemed to drain her whole body. "Lord knows it's not the first blizzard I've ever seen. I only wish ... Look, just go back about your duties. I assume you do have an actual job around here, aside from working me up into an apoplectic fit?"
"Y-yes, Miz Sheridan."
"Fine. Get back to it. You're good at your job, Laurence, I've noticed, just stop running, please."
He drew up a smart salute and nearly broke into a run back to the lobby, then stopped -- drew a breath, and forced himself to walk (albeit quickly).
Caroline Sheridan sighed again, and rubbed her forehead with the back of her hand. On top of everything else. High Tea had been entirely ruined that afternoon. There was supposed to be a wedding tomorrow -- a charming young Oregon couple -- only they wanted ducks loosed after the vows. They always want birds, she thought. The young ones do. They can't think beyond a glorious flight and maybe a few random feathers fluttering here and there. The groundskeepers had been moving the ducks down the teahouse path, they apparently tripped, the crate smashed, and ducks flew straight across the teahouse patio, and inside the teahouse.
Caroline strode back to her office at the end of the lobby, fuming. You would never suspect, never believe that three ducks could make so much of a mess in twenty minutes, but between the screaming guests and the panicking staff, armed with broomsticks and not nearly enough common sense...
She wanted to breeze past her secretary, slam the door to her office, physically cut all her phone lines with her letter opener, and barricade herself inside. There was a heavy old sofa against the north wall, she could probably manage it. She stopped in the doorway to the secretary's office and had to laugh at the image of herself, grappling with gorilla-sized furniture, grunting and sweating and face twisted in animal snarls.
She took a breath. Oh, Caroline.
Instead, she brazened it out. Took messages -- fifteen total -- from the girl, thanked her, told her to put her through right away to the Ranger station in New Paltz, took long easy strides into her office, and closed the door quietly. A tall, healthy glass of ice and Pellegrino, her hand brushing the Stoli bottled in the fridge, and then glass in hand she eased in behind her desk to wrap up the day's business.
It would be hours, of course, but thankfully Tea had been seen to. Fruit baskets and dry cleaning and extra days for the guests affected, all seen to personally by her best concierge staff -- and there were still enough pieces left, though only just, in the china collection. They would have to go back to using the Spring season tablecloths, but there was nothing for that. The ducks were lost, of course, but -- and she felt like giggling -- there wasn't going to be a wedding tomorrow, anyway. But there were still the messages, tonight's closing of the restaurants and the lounge and the lakehouse, and then a quick pass over the accounts.
This is my place, she thought. I belong here. Excelsior.
A red light blinked on her phone, and the com buzzed. "Rangers for you, Miz Sheridan."
"Thank you, Natalie," she replied into the machine. She glared at the red light.
And the Rangers, of course. The snow and those bloody Rangers.
Last edited by Lord Caspen
on Mon Aug 30, 2010 4:33 am, edited 3 times in total.
It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit. -- Blithe Spirit, Noel Coward.