Lily King answered the rapping on her front door completely uninformed. In the back of her mind somewhere was the thought that her friend, Bee, was dropping by to discuss her rose bushes again. Instead, she opened the door on the strangest chapter of her life.
It was just after supper and the knocking was firm, insistent as she made her way from the sudsy sink to the front entryway of her rambling farmhouse. She tried to peek through the golden- and- rose- stained glass that framed the dark double door as she always did, to see if Bee was actually holding the sickened plant they had been nursing back to health. What she saw were the shadowy outlines of two male somebodies, but she was already pulling open the door with a friendly greeting falling from her lips.
“Hello, there…” she began. Then tilted her head in a question as she realized fully that there were two strangers were facing her.
They were nice looking young men, neatly dressed and clean shaven. Both were tall, one with dark curly hair cropped close and the other with longer, platinum- colored hair waving across his broad forehead. They were peering at her expectantly and in a oddly familiar way.
“May I help you?” she changed her greeting, while taking in the two sets of intense, dark grey eyes.
“Yes,” replied the golden one. “We were hoping you had a room available. Two would be better, but we can share if need be – we have had a long day.”
Well – that was a stumper, Lily thought. What could they mean by “have a room” she wondered? Her dropped lower jaw and silence seemed to prod Dark Hair into joining the odd conversation.
“Yes – and though we know this is only a bed and breakfast, we were hoping we might be able to purchase a little bite to eat before we retire for the evening.”
He finished this even more puzzling statement with a charming smile – dimples appearing out of nowhere.
“A room…?” Lily echoed Golden Guy. “And a bite to eat…?” she finished looking from one to the other.
“Yes,” Blondie nodded, apparently satisfied that their needs were about to be met.
At this point in the short, but utterly baffling conversation, King Elder slipped up behind Lily to see who had come to call this bright, spring evening. He laid a gentle hand on his wife’s shoulder as he joined her at the front door.
“Hello; who is this, dear?”
“These boys,” she began, calling them boys because they looked about the same age as her twin sons, Eric and David “are wondering if we have a couple of rooms available. And a bite to eat.”
This bit of information gave King the same pause it had given Lily. He was trying to form a question when Dark Hair broke in.
“We couldn’t tell if you have a vacancy as your sign seems to have blown down. But a guy we met in Parsons earlier today told us you have the best Inn within 200 miles and serve a corn bread so light and sweet that heaven sighs in envy when you eat it.”
“And farm fresh bacon and eggs any way you like them,” drooled Goldie beside him.
Now even though King Elder knew that this was a farmhouse, because he had lived here for thirty plus years, and not a Bed and Breakfast as these two lost souls seemed to think – he found himself following their gaze to a large sign on the other side of the circle drive. It laid face down, dirt and grass clinging to its feet as though it had been blown over in last night’s storm. But where in the dickens the thing had really come from, he had no idea. His eyes traveled back to Dark Hair’s lips as the young man earnestly continued.
“We understand that it’s $125 a night, but we would really like separate rooms – he snores,” this little tidbit was followed with a sharp elbow to Goldie’s midsection.
“Like you don’t,” Golden Hair woofed.
“We prefer to pay cash, if that is all right.” Dark One offered, reaching for his wallet. “And, like I said, I would gladly pay extra for a sandwich or something – we haven’t eaten since CJ’s in Parsons.”
Just as King was about to set this craziness to rest and send these boys up the road to Gramly, where there was a nice Inn, Lily finally found her voice. And the words that she chose gave him more of a start than all this negotiating for the non-existent room and board had so far.
“As a matter of a fact, we have 10 rooms!” she announced enthusiastically, beginning to back up and wave the strangers into the foyer. “And I have some nice fried chicken and pecan pie left from supper. We will just include it in the price of the rooms this once….King – why don’t you go get the boys bags and park their car for them while I get them settled?”
She looked at him in that way she had the time the mayor had suggested a town meeting be held at their place combined with a town picnic. A look that said – What, you have a problem with something here?
King was a strongly opinionated man, but he found himself blinking slowly at his beloved’s statements. Something closely resembling a chuckle was working its way out of his soul. Working its way up out of a place that had only been filled with disquiet this past year, as money problems had continued to mount for this small, independent farmer in a world of agricultural monarchies.
Her gaze cabled him a clear message: $250 is just what we need to make this month’s payment on the last of the college loans. This is what we have been praying for, her look informed him – get moving.
And, though leaving his wife alone with two unknown men was unsettling, to say the least, he shrugged and accepted the car keys Goldie handed over as they turned to follow Lily up the wide staircase. He could hear her chatting about towels and bathrooms and when breakfast was served as he numbly walked towards the little sports car to find their luggage.
His little pup, Oggie, joined him on the drive – sniffing first the car, and then trotting over to investigate the fallen sign in the thick zoysia grass. Forgetting the bellboy mission he had been given, he followed the little Australian shepherd and stood in the slowly dimming light, gazing at the large wooden construction like it was a two-headed dragon. Funny little butterflies danced around his digesting fried chicken and he blew out a long breath as he bent down and grasped the side and one of the legs of the sign. Grunting slightly, he hefted it into an upright position and he began to feel even more stunned as it slipped into slotted holes that he was certain he had never dug. He made sure it was steady before slowly backing up to view the large, old fashioned lettering. And this is what he read.
WHERE WANDERERS FIND A WELCOME
King and Lily never looked back - transforming their lives from hard labor small farm life, to the hard labor of a country Bed and Breakfast. The effects of it's strange beginning on their children, friends and community was only secondary magic to what the lives of those who found their way to the comforting rooms, gardens, hayrides and countryside of the Coincidental Inn found. People celebrating a new marriage, anniversary, birthday or promotion - people stumbling into Lilies gardens having just suffered the loss of all they held dear. Strangers to each other as they arrived, most found a friendship and care that brought them back year after year.
There are signs in all of our lives....but do we have the imagination and boldness to read them and believe - or toss away an opening door with a shrug of unbelief? May all our eyes be opened and the amazing beauty and purpose unfold before us.