The Spa

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Another one of Lionel's tales. Lionel was a great story teller, thoroughly entertaining sports at hunting and fishing camps over many decades. His stories were short & always had a twist reminiscent of O'Henry. Well long past, his stories were certainly memorable and worth printing for further enjoyment. Embellishments by the author are due to memory lapses but added in true Lionel style.

Submitted: November 16, 2016

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Submitted: November 16, 2016




One of Lionel's Tales, Recalled From His Days of Managing the Fishing Camp at Grant's, – a rustic group of cabins at the end of a long logging road in northern Maine.
 Blake D Prescott,

"Lionel, it's the phone. It's for you. A Mrs. Sternbottom."
Lionel walked over to the phone wearing a puzzled brow. He listened for a moment and then his expression changed as he made the connection.
"Oh yes, Mrs Stenbutton. Good to hear from you. 'Course I remember your husband, Paul. He was one of our favorites here. We were sure sorry to hear of his passing. A great fisherfella he was, and a real nice man, too."
"What's that? I'm havin' a tad of trouble hearin' ya, Mrs Stenbutton, the phones up here are like fire flies. Sometimes they just sparkle with workin', then, with no warnin', they just ups and quits. Could ya repeat that?"
"You want to spread Paul's ashes in the lake? Why sure, we'd be happy to help out. No, I don't expect anyone would object. I'm sure the fish won't mind. Maybe one o' them big fellas he broke off will meet up with him again."
"Oh, regulations and all. No, no worries. The game warden comes here but once every few weeks, and thats so's he can get some of Charlene's good cookin'. We'd be some proud to have you send Paul's ashes up here."
"Oh, I see. You wouldn't be sendin' them. You're sure of that? You'd be bringin' 'em. Yes, ma'm. Well, it's just that I recall Paul sayin' you weren't all that out doorsy, and we're real separated from yer city-like things. Just makin' sure yer prepared is all. The road is long and rough comin' in ya know; it's just a loggin' road with more than its share of holes and ruts. Would it be you that's drivin' Mrs Stenbutton?"
"Your what?" Is that some kind of relative?"
"Sorry, I still didn't catch that one. Emanuel Emsis? Is that a fella that works for ya? Does he talk English?"
"Oh, I see, it's a woman. Her name is Emanuel?"
"Your what? I see. A kind a super secretary, ya say. And a driver too. Well, that beats all! Of course she'd be welcome. Just remindin' ya 'bout our rustic camp. Nothin' fancy ya know. Old log cabins with daylight peekin' 'tween the warped ones, but toasty in the cold, what with the wood stove fired up. 'Course we bring the wood straight to the cabin for ya. Tinder too. As the leaves turn, the cold comes in wicked strong, don't ya know. Drives those pesky mosquitoes out, the cold does; so it does some good. You best bring some long undies, just in case. Is your friend there kinda rugged?"
"I see. An athlete in school. Ah … that long ago. She'll be drivin' the limozeen, ya say. Ya know there's not a lot o' clearance on our road here. Paul had that fancy English SUV. That seemed t' work just fine … 'ceptin' the 'lectrics; he sure had his share of trouble wi' them."
"I see, … sold it. Well, make sure Emanuella, or whatever, drives up here in daylight; an' if it's rainin' stay clear of big puddles. They can fool ya with how deep they go."
"Yep, those dates are good. No ma'm, we just have the water comin' from our spring, but we think it's as good as any of that fancy bottled stuff."
"You'll be wantin' a what? A spa? Ma'm this is just a simple fishin' camp. I'm not sure I even know what a spa is."
"I see. Yes ma'm. Sort of a giant bath tub outdoors, is it? Why yes, we have folks who do their body cleanin' an' soakin' outdoors, but they're usually kinda secret-like about their doin' it."
"More than one at a time. Well, I'll be jiggered. That's sure a whole lot of warm water. Heatin' water's kinda precious here. Yes, I understand. The spa's some real important to ya. Yes, I'm sure Paul would want you to be happy and have a real memorable stay. Oh, yes, I'm sure it'll be memorable. No Mrs Stenbutton, the food shouldn't be a problem. We do just fine in that department. The spa's gonna take a bit o' deeper thinkin' and figurin'."
"Yes, ma'm. No, we'd just charge regular rates. We're proud to have you come and bring Paul's ashes. We'll do all we can to make it right by you. Will you and Emanuella be fishin' whilst yer here?"
"I see. Well, you''ll enjoy the boat ride to spread the ashes. We'll have the boat boy ready to take the two of you out, just in case Emanuella's rusty in the boat and motor department."
"No, no, ma'm, actually, he's 62 years old. We just call him a boat boy. It's sort of a tradition. He takes care of the boats and motors and helps the folks with their gear; he's the friendly hand that meets the fisherfolk after a long day on the lake. He's sort of a historic fixture here, ya might say. Smells like gas so's it's best to keep a distance at mealtime."
"Well, yes, Mrs Stenbutton, we'll have a cabin ready for you then. I'll try to fix it so you can have the same one Paul had. You'd best plan on close to an hour for the last leg on the loggin' road. Real scenic it is, but mighty choppy. Slow and careful's the words. We'll be lookin' for ya. No, I don't think we'll have any trouble spottin' your car, but I 'preciate what ya say, … long … real long … dark blue, and with gold trim. Yes, ma'm, I got it."
Lionel put the phone down and screwed up his face, staring at the receiver. Then he turned, talking to no one in particular, but listening to each of his own words, chewing on each one, muttering, " This is somethin' else. A spa, she says. That's gonna take some real heavy figurin'. An' she wants it big enough for her an' Manuella too. Well, no one's stumped me on this sorta stuff before. Just gonna take some figurin'."

Like a woman with her skirt hiked up to keep off the mud, the limousine made the last leg of the road hiked up and pulled by the loggers field "truck." It wasn't really a truck; indeed, it wasn't any truly defined kind of vehicle. She was a made up mongrel standing way off the ground with oversized tires and no matching parts. The one thing that fit was her name, Rhoda. That's how everyone referred to her. Looking like she had collapsed long past, but come to life on need, she made the throatiest of noises as she enjoyed doing what no other could do. With her half grill smirking, Rhoda was right proud, chained to that long blue limousine, holding her taut, so the the ladies within saw little but skyscape, especially on that last stretch uphill.  
Jake opened Rhoda's door not paying any attention the screeching and groaning of the ill fitting parts. Recognizing his friend, he yelled, "Hey, Lionel. We got your folks here. The road's some tore up, and wicked bad at the river crossin'. Rhoda did her little dance an' here we are! Mrs Stumpbottom, here, gave me a tip that'll keep my whistle wet 'till the snow falls. Rhoda's ready ta pull her back ta black tar when ya give us the word."
The ladies removed themselves most cautiously from the highly pitched vehicle, Jake holding out his strong arm, and they trying to avoid the greasy part while gripping firmly, all to keep them from sliding into disaster from their awkward perch. Each was rather elegantly dressed, with flowing skirts covering long, laced boots, but it was impossible to guess their age since they each sported wide brimmed hats with netting tied to their necks as protection against the anticipated outsized mosquitoes. They stood at attention with the exception of single arms being akimbo, one for each woman, making them appear as a single unit. Jake was gathering their very ample luggage as he assured his charge, "No worries, Mrs Stompbottom, I'll take this here luggage right into your cottage. I'll just make a second trip for that there trunk."
Lionel approached with a wide smile.
"Ladies, welcome to our camp! Follow me and I'll show you to your cabin. It's smack on the water, that's the one with the big lake side dock."
They followed him dutifully but slowly, taking care over the irregular ground since the veils, let alone their evident disdain for looking down, precluded adequate scrutiny of the path.
Jake, showing genuine concern, half shouted, "Mind that second step, Mrs Stormbottom; it's a doozy. Best you hold each other goin' down by the dock! Four legs is better than two." Reaching the lake side entry and adjacent dock, Lionel explained, "This is your cabin, ladies. I started a fire in the stove so's it should be good an' cozy. And this here's your private dock with two boats."
"But, said one, lifting her veil long enough to secure a careful analysis, that boat up here on the dock isn't right. It should be in the water. And, it's filled with water!"
"Ah, and with warm water at that, ladies. That's your spa!"

Scribe: Blake D Prescott, MD,  long time admirer of Lionel and his stories.

© Copyright 2018 Blake Prescott. All rights reserved.

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