The Bed that Died

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A bet to spend the night in a four poster bed in a museum.

Submitted: April 21, 2013

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Submitted: April 21, 2013

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THE BED THAT DIED

The cupboard door opened very slowly and the person who had been waiting inside appeared cautiously and stepped into the opulently furnished bedroom.

Earlier in the day Carmela, Embeth, and Florence had been sitting in a café. Out of work and with few possibilities of getting jobs, they had decided to relieve the daily boredom by meeting up instead of talking to each other on their mobile phones. Even though they had all made the effort to turn up and had dressed up for the occasion they were still bored. Carmela saw a poster on the wall advertising the opening of the new museum created from one of the oldest houses in the area. Photos shown were of large rooms with large pieces of furniture. The one that caught Carmela’s eye was the picture of a four poster bed. She got off her stool and walked up to see it closer. The bed was the usual four poster with heavy blue and gold brocade curtains with a matching bed cover and cushions. She turned to her friends and said, “Can we go to this new museum, it’s not far off and we can all go in my car. How about it?”
Embeth and Florence looked first at Carmela and then at the poster. They went up to where she was standing and, as she had done, looked carefully at the photos. They then exchanged a look that seemed to be more eloquent then words. “Of course we’ll come. Anything to get rid of this feeling of not being wanted for anything,” Embeth said.
“Can we eat there?” Florence asked.
“It says at the bottom of the poster that there is a restaurant and a café,” replied Carmela.
“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go!” Embeth declared. The trio of young ladies left the café and went out to where Carmela had parked her car.

The museum was located at a short distance from the town, and from the number of cars already parked, many others had had the same idea.
In the reception they paid and picked up pamphlets with the history of the house, descriptions of the rooms and the furniture and ornaments therein. Carmela strolled round the museum that still resembled a house, indifferent to what she saw. It was the bed that had captured her imagination. It was so enormous in comparison with modern beds, and it must have been fun to have slept in one, was what she had thought when she saw the picture on the poster. They toured the downstairs and then made their way upstairs to the bedrooms. In the guidebook it said that the beds were no longer used as beds.
“What are they used as then?” Florence asked a lady who was sitting on a chair in one of the bedrooms.
“They are beds, but are really ornamental. They haven’t been slept in for ages,” the attendant said.
“I’d love to sleep in one. Just for the experience alone, it would be worth it,” Carmela said to anyone who wanted to listen.

The three young women went into the next bedroom where the bed in the photo was. It looked much more impressive in reality than in the photo. The strong blue and the gold of the brocade had a richness that the camera hadn’t managed to capture. Carmela stood staring at the bed as if she had fallen in love. Embeth and Florence looked at her and then at the bed. Embeth said, “I bet you fifty pounds you wouldn’t spend the night in that bed.”
Carmela said nothing for a few moments and then, “I accept the dare. Where do I hide?”
Florence and Embeth looked round the room and saw there was a small cupboard without a keyhole. They opened the door and looked inside. There were a few shelves and nothing else.
Embeth said, “Inside here will do. Are you sure you want to go through with this?”
“Yes, I am. It’s about time something out of the ordinary happened, to one of us at least. See you tomorrow. OK? Florence take my car keys. Come for me in the morning when it opens.”

Florence and Embeth said goodbye to Carmela and went through all the other bedrooms and bathrooms then went downstairs. They left as discreetly as possible and didn’t speak till they were in Carmela’s car.
“Do you think it was a good idea betting her to do such a thing? What if she’s caught by the attendants? They may call the police,” Florence said complainingly to Embeth.
“I think we all need something to liven up our unemployment. We’ll say she’s been suffering from depression.”
“Huh. That takes in more than half the population of this country. If this becomes public knowledge everyone will make depression an excuse for getting up to all sorts of larks. There’s no lack of imagination where getting up to things is concerned.”
“It’s cheaper than retail therapy or getting drunk. So where do we go now we are in her car?” Embeth was thinking that if Carmela stayed all night she would be fifty pounds worse off. “I’d rather go home if you don’t mind. I’m getting hungry and my mother will have something made for dinner. That’s a thought, what is Carmela going to eat?”
“You know what a little piggy she is. There are always bars of chocolate and fruit drinks in her bag. She never goes hungry if she can help it. So don’t worry about her.”
Florence drove Embeth home, and then parked Carmela’s car outside her own place.

Meanwhile back at the museum house, Carmela was sitting inside the cupboard feeling claustrophobic, but warm as the central heating was kept at a permanent temperature for the furniture. The only sound she could hear was an old grandfather clock, and that wasn’t exactly loud, as the clock stood at the bottom of the staircase. In a short time Carmela had fallen asleep in spite of  being in a rather reduced area. She woke up and looked at the clock on her mobile, it was two a.m. She got out of the cupboard and got onto the bed. As she felt hungry she took out a couple of chocolate bars and a small brick of fruit juice.
Lying back against the brocade cushions she tried to imagine the sort of carryings on that had occurred in the bed over the centuries since its construction. The images in her head ranged from over-sexed husbands, to backs turned against each other. Then, of course, there may have been a series of lovers who would have indulged in plenty of action. Thus she entertained herself with these thoughts and eating the chocolate bars and the drink. Then she heard a strange creaking sound and felt the bed move. Carmela remembered what the attendant had said about the bed being ornamental. She didn’t understand what that really meant and wasn’t too keen on finding out. Once again, in the cupboard, Carmela settled down to sleep for the rest of the night.

At opening time the next morning, Florence and Embeth presented themselves at the museum. They rang up Carmela on her phone and she told them where she was. They told her that there was a side door on the ground floor where the attendants and other workers inside the house entered. Carmela was stiff but after she had rubbed herself all over to bring back her blood circulation, she gently opened the door. There was no one in sight so she tiptoed down the corridor to the staircase. Still nobody around and she almost ran down the stairs, then to the door her friends had told her about.

Embeth opened the front passenger door and Carmela gratefully got in, panting rapidly from relief and nerves.
“What was it like?” Embeth asked Carmela as Florence carefully manoeuvred Carmela’s car out of the car park and onto the road.
“The bed moved in the night so I got inside the cupboard. Is that valid for the fifty pounds?” Carmela asked.
Embeth stared at Carmela, “You look as if you need a hot shower and a breakfast. The fifty pounds are yours. We’ll take you home where you can get yourself together and also have a good sleep. See you later this afternoon or early evening. Here are the fifty pounds.”
“How are you going to get home?” Carmela asked them.
“By bus. Bye,” Florence said.

Back at the museum there was some consternation when one of the attendants heard a strange noise coming from one of the bedrooms. She went to the bedroom that Carmela had stayed in the night before and saw a peculiar sight. The four poster had folded in on itself and the curtains were all mixed up with the bed frame. An antiques expert was called in to examine the remains. Woodworm! The expert declared. The whole bed-frame was riddled with it. Carmela’s weight had helped to finish off what the woodworm hadn’t yet managed. The cleaners went to clean up the mess and there among the rotten wood they found some chocolate wrappers and an empty brick of fruit juice. Nobody could explain how those things had got there. It was opined that some of the local visitors were not as couth as they should have been. The museum director decided that under the circumstances all the furniture in the museum should be examined for woodworm. After an extensive investigation of all the furniture, all the pieces were found to be contaminated with woodworm. There was nothing to be done. Copies of the originals would have to be made. What a shame! Everyone said. What an expense! Declared the local council who had approved the sale.

On a remote island in the South Pacific, the previous owners and descendants of the original founders of the house museum read of the scandal in an online newspaper. They were not at all perturbed. After all business is business.

Carmela and friends were having dinner in a fancy restaurant. Still without employment, they liked to enjoy the niceties of life once in a while. Carmela was quite indignant about the bed collapsing, “To think that I might have died too, just like that bed. I wonder if there would be any money in saying I’d spent the night there!”
Embeth and Florence, both together, said, “Go for it. You need the money.”
Accordingly, Carmela rang one of the local newspapers telling her story and the bet with Embeth. She also confessed to being the owner of the chocolate wrappers and the empty brick of fruit juice. The fact that nobody had gone into the bedroom to check it out before leaving for the night, and the way she had left the museum on the morning after the incident of the dead bed, that there was no one around when everyone should have been on duty on the same morning, showed the lack of safety measures.

One thing always leads to another, and after the article appeared in the newspaper, Carmela received a phone call from an insurance company asking if she would be interested in working for them. The interview went off very well, and Carmela was given the job of making sure that before granting insurance against burglary, fire, or flooding, everything was as it should be.

Embeth was happy to be given back the fifty pound bet which led to the whole affair.
 


© Copyright 2018 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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