A place to read humorous stories
“We’re here!” Matt cheered as the car screeched over the surface of the obvious curb he’d missed in his revelry.
“Where, Daddy?” chirped Chloe from the backseat.
“The --” Matt squinted towards the roof of the hotel to verify where they’d ended up. “Oh, let’s say the Overlook Hotel.”
“Let’s not,” said Audrey.
“Haha, then a HoJo,” laughed Matt. “Everybody out of the car.”
“You want to, I don’t know, park the car first?” Audrey asked.
“Quiet!” Matt whispered. “Don’t embarrass me in front of the girl!”
“Yes!” Matt hissed. “The toddler who broadcasts everything she knows! Haha, hey, honey! You wanna get some free Pez?”
Chloe made a face. “Blech. Pez.”
Matt yawned, then grimaced melodramatically, then yawned again. “Ugh! Right? Haha, we’re on the same page, you and me.”
Audrey’s eyes reflexively drew up into baleful little slits. She started to say something cutting, then decided no, she would have plenty of opportunity later. Once the car had bounced off the precast concrete stopper and come to a halt, she got out and started around towards the trunk to get her suitcase.
“Why are we staying at the, um, HoJo, Daddy?”
Matt’s eyes bulged. He hadn’t been expecting any sort of follow-up questions.
“Well, you see, pumpkin -- ” he began.
“A tree fell on the house while you were -- ” Audrey started.
“Turns out Daddy's the caretaker for the season!” Matt bellowed over his wife. Secure in his save, he yawned again. “Yeah.”
Chloe looked from one parent to the other, then shrugged and skipped off to do whatever it is toddlers do when they don’t have any more dialogue for a few lines.
“So -- and I know we’re several years past the point where I should have been actively asking this,” Audrey said, “but what’s wrong with you? Why didn’t you just tell her a tree fell on the house?”
“Do you really want her going to daycare and telling all her little friends how she lives in a literal tree house? I know I don’t. Maybe I just -- ” Matt yawned. “ -- love her more.”
“Uh huh. Are you afraid the children are going to mock you for a tree falling on our house, something you have absolutely no control over and shouldn’t be affected by since you’re more than three decades older than they are?”
“Their words may be in the wrong order and often the wrong tense, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hurt, Audrey.”
“Daddy,” said Chloe, having something to add again, “how long are we going to stay at the HoJo?”
Matt yawned. “Not long. Just for, um, vacation! Yeah, vacation! This will be our little home away from home while we’re on vacation. And nothing’s really going to change. Your mom can drive to work from here and you can still go to school.”
“I thought you said we were on vacation,” said Chloe, puzzled.
“Yeah, dummy,” said Audrey. “What a wonderful vacation -- going to work and school like normal.”
Matt tittered maniacally. Then yawned. “Anyway, yes, honey, it’s going to be great. Daddy’s the caretaker, ya' see, and we’re just going to stay here for a while – taking care. Oh, hey, you get a maid!”
“We have a maid now,” Chloe said.
“Yeah,” Matt yawned, “but this one we won’t see again, so you can accuse her of stealing things. Or call her Grandma. I’m good with either.”
“Well, if we’re all done asking questions I would prefer not to answer, let’s go on inside and get a room.”
Audrey’s eyes did that thing again, then she held out her hand to Chloe. “Come on, honey, let’s go watch Daddy’s awkward exchange with a stranger.”
“Hey, this is pretty nice, huh?” Matt said through a yawn as they walked through the sliding doors into the lobby. “Automatic doors.”
“Oh, yes,” Audrey said. “Maybe they’ll have walls and beds, too.”
“Haha, yeah.” Matt laughed.
“Welcome, folks! Welcome!” cried the front desk man as he hurried out to greet them. “Come on in here outta the elements!”
“Hey look, honey,” Matt said, barely stifling a yawn. “Scatman Crothers.”
“Matt!” Audrey snapped. “He’s not Scatman Crothers. Scatman Crothers died years ago.”
“Is that true, Scatman Crothers?” asked Matt.
Scatman Crothers laughed with vibrant glee. “Haha, no, no, no! I can’t really die!”
“See honey. He can’t die. Look Chloe, Scatman Crothers. Say hello to the immortal jazzman.”
Chloe stared into the middle distance. “Daddy -- We’re not at a HoJo… We’re at a -- Red Roof Inn.”
Scatman Crothers pertly pursed his lips and studied the small girl. After a moment, he gave his head a sprightly shake and focused on Matt and Audrey again.
“We’re so glad you nice folks chose our hotel,” said Scatman Crothers in a lively sort of way. “Let me get ya' signed in here and then we’ll take ya'bags up to ya'room, now how’s that sound?”
Audrey held out her phone. “Scatman Crothers died in nineteen eighty-six. See, look.”
“Fake news, ma'am! Fake news!” crowed Scatman Crothers, like a live crow who was Scatman Crothers.
“Fake news, Audrey,” Matt said. “Don’t ruin this for me.”
“Don’t ruin what, getting to humor a crazy person?”
“Alrighty!” said Scatman Crothers. “What’s going to be the name ya’room is under?”
“Matt Hinson,” said Matt.
“Allllllllright, and how d’ya spell ‘Matt’?”
“Oh, for God’s sake,” said Audrey.
“And how long d'ya expect you’ll be stayin' with us, Mister Matt?”
“Well, a tree fell on our house,” said Audrey, “so -- ”
“Pay no attention to -- ” Matt interrupted, before being interrupted himself with a yawn. “Her. She’s, um, whew. I’m the caretaker.”
Unsure of exactly why he was doing it -- figuring it might be some kind of white people code for a sexual thing -- the endless Scatman Crothers gamely returned Matt’s epileptic-like winks.
“For the season,” Matt clarified.
Audrey rolled her eyes so hard she could see all the names she wanted to call her husband like graffiti on her brain.
“Daddy,” Chloe said, slowly waving a hand in front of her. “They have, um, continental breakfast. Served from nine to eleven.”
Scatman Crothers animatedly motioned for Matt and Audrey to come closer.
“I don’t mean to alarm you nice folks,” said Scatman Crothers in a vivacious whisper, “but I get the sneakin' suspicion that girl of yours may have…the Shimmering.”
“Neat,” said Matt.
“The Shimmering?” said Audrey. “Don’t you mean ‘The Shining’?”
“Did I say ‘the Shining,’ woman? You know, I don’t come into your hotel sayin’ you dead and showin’ you Wikipedia like I know somethin’ and tellin’ you what vaguely defined mumjo-jumbo you goin’ on about, do I? No, I do not.”
“I’m sorry, but -- ”
“And here your ol’ idiot husband is sayin’ he the caretaker of a damn franchise hotel, but I say one thing you never heard of -- cuz you know so much -- and it’s all, ‘oh, you died thirty years ago, Mister Scatman.’ Racist is what it is.”
“I -- I’m sorry -- I -- ”
“Yeah, Audrey.” Matt yawned.
“Shut up, Matt.”
“Shut up, Matt, damn,” Scatman Crothers echoed. “And just like that, me and you back on the same team, Audrey. Haha! Anyhow, I’m fairly certain that girl has…the Shimmering.”
“And what is…the Shimmering?” Audrey asked, really overselling it.
“Gotdamn, woman! What -- ? Why can’t you just let it be mysterious and find out for yourself? People can’t have experiences on their own anymore! Oh, let me look it up on my telly-phone! I wish I’d died in nineteen eighty-six.”
“I’m pretty sure you did.”
“You keep it up and you gonna die in nineteen eighty-right-now.”
“That doesn’t -- ”
“Hey, this reminds me of that movie,” Matt interjected. “The Shining? Anybody ever see that one?”
Audrey and Scatman Crothers stared at him. Matt smiled and waved. Audrey shook her head and huffed.
“I’m pretty sure I've seen this Simpsons episode,” she said. “Is there an unlikely typewriter on hand for my barely-literate idiot husband to give me a glimpse into his madness? ‘No TV and no beer make Matt… something, something’?”
“Kinda trailed off there at the end, didn’t you, ma’am?” Scatman Crothers replied.
Matt held up his hands. “Wait -- there’s no TV?”
Scatman Crothers laughed. “No, no! Pshaw! There’s a TV in every room, sir! And you can watch whatever kinda freaky-deaky mess you get down with and we won’t say a word!”
“Sweet. You guys have an axe if I decide to run amok and kill everybody?”
“Well, since you ask,” Scatman Crothers said with a frisky spring in his step. “Right over here. All you gotta do is reach inside of this here glass case like so and -- ”
The axe head fell to the ground with an uninspiring plop.
“Well, I guess you ain’t runnin’ amok with no axe,” Scatman Crothers chuckled effervescently.
“It honestly sounds like a lot of effort anyway,” Matt said, simultaneously deflated and relieved.
“Daddy -- ” said Chloe. “Checkout…is at noon.”
Scatman Crothers beamed. “The Shimmering! We in for a wild ride, the four of us, yes sir!”
Audrey took Chloe’s hand. “Yeah, no. Thanks, but we’re going to keep looking. Matthew. Get the in the car.”
“Aw, but they have part of an axe and everything,” Matt whined.
“Get in the damn car!”
Scatman Crothers looked sad but spirited. “Well, that’s a shame, but the customer is always right!”
“Not every customer,” Audrey said, finally letting her eyes take a slice in Matt’s direction. “Goodbye.”
“Good-bye,” Scatman Crothers said, his voice a mournful yet breezy melody.
As the little family loaded up into their car, Scatman Crothers walked over to the window looking out onto the parking lot. He put his hands in his suit pockets, took a deep breath, and sighed.
“Ah, me,” Scatman Crothers said with grave finality. “Magic white folks.”
Kyle Pendergraft writes things some people find mildly amusing. You can find his book, Notes from the North Pole, where he shamelessly mocks the innocence of children here: Amazon Link