We arrived at the Sunnybank before any of the previous night's guests had even left. A sign was taped to the back door saying "No Vacancy," but I figured it was just an old sign. How could there be no vacancies? The day hadn't even started yet! For her part, Nature wasn't worried about getting a room. She'd already made a reservation.
"I thought they didn't take reservations," I said, suspicious.
"I didn't think so either, but I called them up yesterday afternoon, and they let me," explained Nature, shrugging.
"Did anyone in the Party Group have a cell phone?" I pondered.
"They all did," said Bandito.
"It was a rhetorical question," I snapped. "Sorry, Bandito. I'm just thinking out loud."
"You're always so mean to me," whimpered Bandito. "I want my mommy."
"Oh stop it," I chided, not taking him seriously.
"Can I help you?" said a voice over our shoulder. It was Elmer.
"Yeah, hi, I called about a room yesterday?" Nature inquired tentatively.
"You're Nature?" asked Elmer. "Yeah, you're all set, but we haven't cleaned the rooms yet."
"Okay," said Nature, "Is it okay if I leave my stuff here? And go get a bite to eat?"
Elmer nodded. Nature slipped her pack off.
"I'm just going to the diner across the street." said Nature, "You guys want to join me when you're done?"
"Sure," I said.
"And you boys?" said Elmer. "What can I do for you?"
"We're looking for bunks," said Bandito.
"Sorry, boys," said Elmer. "We're all full."
"But--" I sputtered, gesturing to the departed Nature. "But--" I sputtered, gesticulating inarticulately. "How is that possible?"
"Someone called last night," Elmer explained, "Made a reservation for seven people. Sorry."
"But I thought you didn't take reservations!" I cried. And, realizing who it probably was, I swore loudly.
"Can we check back in later?" I asked hopefully, "Maybe one of them will break their leg on the way here! Maybe they won't make it!"
"I mean, maybe," said Elmer, "But I'm not making any promises."
We left our packs and stalked across the street to have breakfast.
Nature was eating with Brian and Alyson when we walked in. She waved to us.
"You remember Brian and Alyson," said Nature.
I did. "Oh, hi," I said, knocking Brian's orange juice onto the floor.
"What the hell was that for?" said Brian, standing up, his shirt sopping wet.
"What the heck is wrong with you, M.C.?" asked Bandito.
"I don't know, I'm terribly sorry." I mumbled, grabbing some napkins to wipe off Brian's shirt. "Waitress! Can he get another orange juice? On me, I insist!"
"You're lucky I don't sic my dog on you," Brian growled, backing down slightly.
"That's a terrible thing to say about your wife," I said, affronted.
"No, you idiot! Her!" And Brian pointed out the window, to where Zelda, his and Alyson's ferocious attack dog, was drooling menacingly on the sidewalk.
"Oh, sorry," I stammered, then turned to Alyson. She glared at me. "Sorry?"
And then she punched me in the face.
Eating my french toast was significantly more awkward and less satisfying with wads of toilet paper shoved up my nose and a trickle of mucussy blood seeping down my throat, but I suffered through it.
My mood worsened when we returned to the Sunnybank to find the Party Group arrived, and of course they had all gotten rooms. One of them had deviously made the reservation the night before.
I was distraught, and I complained to Elmer. "But we got here first! If you stuck to your own rules--"
"I beg your pardon?" scoffed Elmer.
"--then we'd have rooms, not these chumps," I continued, undaunted. I turned to the Party Group. "I'm sorry, but I think we deserve it just a little more than you guys!"
"I should kick the crap out of you," said Dude Nozzle, stepping towards me, "except it looks like someone else beat me to it."
"Yeah, what happened to his face?" whispered one of the others.
"I think he's just ugly," said her friend.
"I mean, do any of you care about having a gourmet, vegetarian meal?" I asked, backing away, scared and insulted. "I bet you're not even planning to stay for dinner! You're probably just going to throw your packs in a room and then go off to drink hooch under the bridge!"
"Hey, that's not a bad idea," said Fat Stick. And that's when I flipped out and killed all of them. I blacked out, and when I came to I was chewing on Dude Nozzle's spleen in a pool of blood and viscera. Elmer had passed out, and Bandito was throwing up into the bushes.
Or maybe I just imagined that last part. We eventually worked out a deal with Elmer so that we could stay for dinner, but then we'd hike on. One of the Party Group offered to let me have his bed, but I couldn't tell if he was being condescending or truly magnanimous. Either way, I turned him down, and Bandito and I went to get showers at the local campground.
The campground was at the other end of town. The woman working in the camp store told us we'd have to buy shower passes at the Spa. Which was at the other end of town. And that was when I flipped out and killed everybody. Again. Luckily for me, there weren't that many people in the store that day.
"Why do you keep doing this?" asked Bandito, almost pleading with me. He refused to help me stuff the corpses into a beer cooler on moral grounds. Nothing was going my way.
Having finally showered, we did our laundry, I ate a delicious veggie burger, and then we went to hang out in the Sunnybank's music room until dinner. The music room was awesome, with a poorly tuned honky-tonk piano and a random collection of other instruments, including a violin. I had taken a Suzuki method lesson once, so I picked up the violin and it promptly exploded, its strings popping off in random directions and making horrific twanging noises. What a terrible instrument! Plus I may have accidentally sat on it, so I threw it out the window and hoped nobody would notice it was gone.
Dinner was fantastic, everything we'd ever dreamed of an more. I had two or three helpings of soup, two servings of salad, a plate of pasta, and a slice of homemade key lime pie. I wouldn't eat again for a week. The conversation was charming and entertaining, and I quickly forgot all my troubles from earlier. Everything was forgiven.
As we hiked out later that night to make camp beside the river, just outside of town, I only had one worrying thought. Where was I going to use the bathroom in the morning?