“Not a single booking today.” Ernest climbed into bed.
“We have a few guests.” Renee, his wife, said. She got into bed beside him. “It will be enough to cover this month.”
“Yes, but what about next month? And the month after that?”
“We’ll manage,” Renee said. “We always do.”
“This time is different,” Ernest said. “If things don’t pick up by the end of the month, we might not have Erren Everlasting Inn anymore.”
“If that’s the case, so be it.” Renee kissed Ernest’s cheek.
“How can you say that? I thought the inn was your dream.”
“No, Ernest, it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I like the inn. It brought us so many memories and friends during its lifetime. But for me, what made the tiny inn worthwhile was you by my side. You’re my dream, Ernest. Boy, did I get it. I could never be happier.”
“You’re too sweet on me, Ren.”
“You’re not sweet enough.” Renee grabbed his hand. “Get some sleep. We’ll brainstorm a marketing strategy tomorrow.”
A young man approached Ernest and Renee at the front desk. Ernest surfed the web for marketing strategies, while Renee answered a potential guest's inquiry on the phone.
“Hi. Are you Ernest and Renee Humphrey?” The young man shyly asked them. Renee finished her phone call and hung up the phone.
“We are. Hello.” Renee gave a pleasant smile.
“What do you want?” Ernest was a bit more blunt. He felt Renee place a calming hand on his shoulder.
“My name is Finn,” Finn said. “I… I was wondering if you would allow me to film this place for a video?”
“A video? What for?” Ernest asked.
“I… uh, it’s kind of my job,” Finn said. “I make videos and post them online.”
“You can make decent money doing that?” Ernest asked.
“Y… yes, I do well,” Finn said. “My job allows me to travel and post videos of them.”
“Sounds like you got a dream job there, son,” Renee said. “I almost envy you.”
“I thought I was your dream?” Ernest turned to her.
“A person can have more than one dream,” Renee said. “Besides, I was just playing with you, old man. My bones are too tired to go trekking all over the world.”
“Why would you want to do a video on us?” Ernest asked. “We’re nothing special.”
“Ernest, I think it could be a good idea,” Renee said. “He could show people all about Erren Everlasting.”
“I can and I will,” Finn said. “This place means a lot to me and my parents.”
“How so?” Ernest wanted to know.
“It’s kind of a long story,” Finn said. “Can we go somewhere to talk?”
“Come to the office.” Renee led the way to the office with Ernest and Finn following close behind.
~ ~ ~
The video went live a few days later. Ernest and Renee sat down to watch it together.
“Hello, everyone!” Finn waved at the camera. “I am at Erren Everlasting Inn. I got to say, I am really excited about today’s video because I am going to show you all a place that means a lot to me.”
“He’s such a sweet boy,” Renee cooed. “I am glad he stopped by.”
“It’ll be even nicer if he kept his promise to bring more people to us,” Ernest said. “Lord knows we need it.”
“Ernie, stop being a mean old grinch. I know you liked him as much as I did. Maybe even more.”
“You’re imagining things.” Ernest wasn’t going to admit to Renee that she was right. Finn’s parents did a good job raising their son, who was kind, polite, and well-mannered. It was a pleasure to have him stay at the inn.
They watched as Finn gave viewers a tour of Erren Everlasting Inn. He showcased the large rooms, free breakfast buffet, the common room with all sorts of games to play, and the outdoor area where they could spend a nice evening relaxing in the cool country air. Finn also highlighted the fact that they were close enough to town if they wanted to shop, eat, or find other ways to spend their time.
“The most magical thing about Erren Everlasting and why it’s so special to me are its owners, Ernest and Renee Humphrey. I was lucky that they agreed to a sit down interview.” The screen switched to smiling portraits of Ernest and Renee.
“Oh! Here’s our big debut!” Renee said gleefully.
“Calm down. You’re not a movie star yet,” Ernest teased.
“Don’t worry, dear. When I hit the big time, I’ll bring you along.” Renee kissed Ernest’s cheek.
“Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey, thank you for agreeing to this interview.” Finn said on screen.
“Dear, please. Call us Ernest and Renee,” Renee replied.
“Okay. Ernest and Renee, you have a lovely inn. Why did you decide to open Erren Everlasting in the first place?” Finn asked the first question.
“We stopped by this town on our way to our honeymoon,” Renee said. “This place was so beautiful, so magical, Ernest and I decided we couldn’t leave. We wanted to share this place with other people and saw an old inn for sale. We’ve been here ever since.”
“Why do you want to make a video about us?” Ernest asked.
“You’re kind of like family,” Finn said. “I…”
“Son, I think you got something off here,” Ernest interrupted.
“We could never have children,” Renee said a bit more gently.
“No, not like that,” Finn blushed. “Not biologically, we’re not family, no. But my parents always talked about you and this place. Growing up, there’s one story they never got tired of telling. They told it over and over throughout my life and it just seems like you’re family because you were always around. I think… my parents think we wouldn’t be here without the two of you.”
“Who are your parents?” Renee inquired.
“Aria and Calvin Miller,” Finn said.
“They’ve been here before?” Ernest asked.
“Yes sir. Once about twenty two years ago.” Finn smiled. “They were on the way home from visiting my grandparents a few towns over. But they were having car trouble and stopped at your inn. They told me how you offered them a room to stay in, even though they had no money.”
“I think I know what you’re alluding to,” Renee gasped. “You look just like your father, you know.”
“People tell me that all the time.”
“What are you two conspiring about?” Ernest wanted in on their little secret.
“Ernie, you must remember. One Christmas, twenty two years ago now it seems, a couple came asking to use our telephone? The woman was awfully pregnant.”
“I remember.” The day came flooding back to Ernest. “It’s not every day a woman gives birth in the lobby of your inn.”
“Sorry about that.” Finn blushed again. “I didn’t mean to make such a mess.”
“Nonsense, it was not your fault, dear.” Renee gave Finn a hug. “How are your parents?”
“Older.” Finn said. “They’re back at home. When they heard I would be out here, they made me promise to stop by and say hello.”
“Mission accomplished,” Ernest said.
“Mission accomplished.” Finn looked around the office. “Thank you both so much for allowing me not only into your inn, but into your lives. l got to tell people about not only my story, but yours as well. The two of you, who have always been shadowy figures in my life, are now full fledged human beings that I got to meet. This is a beautiful inn in a beautiful location, but the love and warmth of the two of you make this place a must see.”
“We’re quite humble you chose us,” Renee said. “We’d like to think anyone would have helped your parents out in that situation.”
“Not everybody,” Finn insisted. “My parents always told me they wouldn’t know what would have happened had you two not offered them a room here. I think they even named you my honorary godparents.”
“Honorary godparents?” Renee chuckled.
“Who knew such a thing existed?” Ernest said.
“It exists,” Finn said with a smile. “Because you two are sitting right in front of me.”
“We are honored to be honorary godparents to someone like you.” Renee smiled. “Thank you for coming back for a chat.” A soft melody played as Finn, Ernest, and Renee said goodbye. Finn came on screen one last time to close out the video.
“Thanks for coming along with me and allowing me to explore a place I had only heard about. Being here in person… it’s a special feeling. I almost feel like I’m somehow home again. I hope some of you get a chance to come out here and experience the magic and love I’ve felt the past couple of days. Until next time!” The video cut on Finn’s smiling face.
“That was good,” Renee said. “He’s a talented filmmaker.”
“Soon, we’ll see if it was worth all the trouble.” Ernest turned off the computer.
~ ~ ~
“Ernest!” It was wonderful to hear Finn’s voice again. It had been a few weeks since Finn’s video was published. “How’s it going over there?”
“Your video did the trick!” Ernest was happy to report.
“We’re booked solid for the holidays and beyond,” Renee added. “Seems everyone wants a piece of Erren Everlasting.”
“Good, I’m glad!” Finn replied. “My parents and I are planning to visit in the spring. Think there’ll be a room for us?” Ernest chuckled.
“For you, Finn, there’s always room.”