Welcome to October
CHAPTER
8
A Hue Horrendous
For a child like Ichabod Graves, being alone was a beastly bore. He didn’t have anyone to play with as his mother was a vegetable and the Thornes seven sofa spuds. Since Ichabod felt something like solitude all his life, he grew quite used to the feeling. So he certainly wasn’t lonely.
He was bored.
With a huge huff, Ichabod rang the bell of the Wutsitz Inn Front Desk. Though Mrs. Wutsitz was only a few feet behind the counter fitting keys into the cubbies, she didn’t seem to pay the ding any mind. While she went about the task, hand trembling as it reached for the highest shelf, Ichabod straightened his tie and lifted his palm.
With some gusto, he flung his hand down toward the bell’s head. It was thrilling, just thrilling, to imagine himself firing off a loud round of brass applause. But Ichabod wouldn’t dare— not in a million years— to be the cause of a ruckus or roar. Before his hand could commit such dastardly din, he stopped himself with a smile.
The thought was enough.
He folded three of those fingers into his palm and wagged his pointer over the bell’s head as if holding back for both of their sakes. Ichabod was never over-indulging.
Ding, the desk bell said.
The sound of boxes tumbling from the room behind the cubbyholes startled Mrs. Wutsitz to attention. Clutching her heart, she turned to lean against the cubbies. But seeing Ichabod scared her again.
“AGH!” she screeched.
“AHHH!” Ichabod screamed on his turn.
The pipes suddenly groaned and Mrs. Wutsitz’s eyes grew wide with fear. Then they rolled to the back of her head as she fainted. As she fainted, she slumped down the cubbies in a way that almost made her seem dead.
Mr. Wutsitz stuck his head out of the door of the backroom. “Didja say somethin’, Momma?” he asked the almost empty room. But he finally saw Ichabod, staring confused and concerned at the Front Desk bell. “Can I help you?” Mr. Wutsitz asked his only guest.
Ichabod startled. “What?”
Mr. Wutsitz’ brow crossed as he exhaled. “Didja need help?”
Ichabod wasn’t certain. Should he say something? Should he call for help? Or should he lie low like Mr. Mind had seriously suggested?
“May I use your telephone?”
Mr. Wutsitz nodded toward the cubbyholes. But the door blocked the site from his view.
“‘s behind the desk,” he offered.
Ichabod grimaced.
“Oh I see. Thanks.”
Wei Down knew the sound of an emergency. It sounded like a phone call from a child at 6 A.M. He shook Leila from her sleep and told her to get dressed. “We’re taking the car,” he added.
Lei shot out of bed.
“Have you heard from the Detectives?” she asked stuffing her nightgown into the waistband of a randomly drawn pair of pants. Wei did not know whether it was alright or not to be proud that she knew the sound of an emergency, too. So he didn’t smile when he answered her.
“I’ve just called them. If we hurry, we’ll beat them to the scene.”
Wei Down and Leila rushed to the car and flew down the road toward the Wutsitz Inn.
Wei saw the confusion on Leila’s face— confusion and something like fear. But she didn’t say a word, not to ask what happened. Not to question why they were there. He loved that courage concealed of hers. Sometimes he wondered whether she had always been such a strong one, or if she pretended, just for him.
Today, he couldn’t ask her, though, and if she had questions, they’d be answered soon enough. He hurried up the porch steps and through the unlocked front door. Leila followed close behind. And when she saw Ichabod Graves standing in the foyer to greet them, her scared expression flew away.
Her cheeks flushed plum as anger took its place.
Wei Down looked between Leila and Ichabod concerned on the one hand, confused on the other. But he didn’t have time— not just now— to ask after it. He’d make a note to talk it over with her later. What was that look she gave poor Ichabod? Wei had never seen her so cross ever before.
Luckily, Ichabod seem unaffected.
“Dr. Down, Sir,” the boy piped up. “She’s over here.”
Wei Down made for the cubbies. He found Mrs. Wutsitz slumped sloppily there. He tried calling her once to see if she’d wake. But Wei Down had come too late. Mrs. Wutsitz had taken a nap nefarious. One she’d never wake from, no matter who called her name.
It was a pity that the two detectives bursting through the front doors did not know this just yet.
“Mrs. Wutsitz!” they called as they entered the inn. Mr. Wutsitz peeked over the railing upstairs.
“Detectives?” A puzzled note filled the word; a puzzled look filled his face. “Whaddur you two doin’ here?”
Detective Abe raised his brow, his head, and his voice. “My good man, haven’t you heard?”
“Your mother’s had another one of her dizzy spells,” finished Bee.
“Only this time, she went a flush fierce.”
“A grade grotesque.”
“A hue horrendous.”
“E-nough of this!
The Detectives Abe and Bee stared gape-mouthed at a staircase-bound and frightened man.
Mr. Wutsitz stopped on the stairs, gripping the railing at the sight of Dr. Down. Wei couldn’t meet his eye, but said, “I’m sorry, Mort,” before hanging his head.
Wei Down wished it had all gone differently. Perhaps if it had, Mrs. Wutsitz would’ve been breathing, okay. Mort Wutsitz wouldn’t have fainted or fallen down the staircase. Wouldn’t have busted his leg. Perhaps if things had gone differently, on the way to the hospital Mort wouldn’t have looked at Ichabod and said,
“You killed my momma.”
But he did. And nothing Wei Down wished could change what October thought of that.
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