Robert Dawson (Part 1)



This is my first attempt at writing a decent short story. Though it has turned out to be longer than I expected or intended.
Happy reading :)
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Robert was a nomad. Not that he didn’t have a family, but he liked not to stay in one place for a long time. Motels and dilapidated inns were his abode for times more than one. If he was home, it either meant that he was broke, or wasn’t well. Sometimes, even when he was bankrupt, he preferred scraping money by gambling or faking credit cards. Somehow he was more familiar with the gamble house than his own home.
He found a certain thrill in traveling to the unknown. Not knowing the way, he never bothered with maps or GPS; he went where the road took him. On the way he used to take up mundane jobs for a fortnight, in towns un-heard of, and when he had earned enough for the next trip he used to leave before the town folks even had a chance to register the fact that they had housed a nomad amongst themselves.
 This time Robert Dawson was home for none of the above reasons. This time he was home because he had decided to move all his belongings and set up a permanent base in a small cozy town he had just loaned the hospitality of.
‘Son, are you sure about this?’ Mr. Dawson drawled.
He was a stout man of seventy years, edging towards eighty. He had three sons, Robert being the middle one. His eldest son was of a respected profession and liked to call himself a doctor. The youngest Dawson was an artist and had moved to Greece for all anyone knew.
Mr. Dawson wasn’t much of a father. It’s not like he wasn’t a good father, but he didn’t have those fatherly traits which made familial ties. He provided support, and that’s where it ended.
Mrs. Dawson was a grubby lady. She didn’t protest when her husband gambled away the money, she didn’t cry when her youngest son moved out, she wasn’t disappointed when Robert became a nomad. The only time anyone had seen her smile was before her marriage. Some people said she had left her smile at her parents’ home the day she became a Dawson. But today there was a little anxiety in her eyes, when you looked real close you could see a hint of anxiousness. Even though his visits were sporadic but Mrs. Dawson was pleased to see her son off. But today there seemed restlessness about her.
“Yes father. I’m sure. The town is pleasant and people are helpful. I’ve even adopted a dog and have bought a stove. I’m all for living in suburbia”, Robert gruffed sincerely.
His father replied with a curt nod. His mother though, was still not satisfied.
“A dog? A stove? That’s all to keep you there?” She asked softly.
Both the father and son gave looks of shock towards her. This was one of the rare occasions when she had spoken.
“What? I can’t ask now?” She protested.
“Umm.. no..  Mother… I like the town...” Robert finished off lamely.
His mother just huffed and went into her room.
Mr. Dawson and Robert looked at each other and shrugged.
Robert packed his dependable jeep with the essentials and nodded a goodbye at his father. He gave a side nod to indicate that he wished his mother well. The red beast, rusty in patches, was groaning under the weight of twenty years of memories. Robert started the red beast and was rolling away down the hill in no time. Mr. Dawson stood in the garden long after his son had left, watching the dust settle down and until the sun went down the horizon lost in his reminiscing.
Robert was whistling along the CD in his antique player. Country Roads was blasting though the speakers and the windows were down. The wind blew his hair giving him a sense of euphoria and freedom. He thought again about his decision to stay. He began the monologue which people prone to being alone generally get accustomed to.
‘Would my freedom be threatened?’ he asked himself.
‘No Robbie! A dog and a stove can’t steal your freedom’ he answered.
Now a third person might consider this madness but when you just have an empty seat beside you talking to yourself becomes quite entertaining and probably the only conversation you have in days.
Robert was quite for a while and was looking out the window, watching the meadows blur by. He saw the blue sky against the vast expanse of green and smiled a little at the peace he was feeling. If he died today he would have no regrets to the way he had lived his life.
Yes, he was a nomad but he had met countless people, even if they hadn’t met him. He had seen the world a great deal more than anyone had. He knew what made the drunkards cry, he knew how to pull an engine apart and put it again, he even knew how to charm a girl. Being observant and unobtrusive was the key to learning.
He had found this town just few days back. It was a dreary little place with just the sufficient amount of shops and houses. He had planned to buy a shop and start a new business venture where he would provide any kind of service one required. But not baby-sitting as he had zero experience handling kids.
What had made Robert stay was the thrill of ownership. He wanted to own his shop, his bed, and of-course a stove and a dog. It would be a new kind of adventure for him. Staying at his parents place and owning ‘their’ stuff didn’t seem that exciting to him.
Robert was still analyzing his decision when he realized he was really tired from all the driving. He wanted a motel for the night. He came across a diversion and wasn’t sure which road to take. He had been to the town once and wasn’t really sure of the way back. Having realized that he should have taken a map he then contemplated on which path to take.
‘Left or right Robbie?’ he murmured.
He decided to go with his gut and took the right diversion.
‘Well, let’s’ see where the road takes us’.
Up ahead the road he saw a shimmering light. The neon sign was glowing in the dark spelling out the name of the hotel. HOSTS’ PALACE.

Well, atleast I found a hotel for the night. Robert thought.
He parked his red jeep just outside the hotel. He pushed open the rickety door of the hotel and a bell jingled. The hotel was decently decorated and seemed in a good enough condition. He had been to worse places so he was content with the ambience.
The inside was brightly lighted with a huge chandelier in the middle. The lobby consisted of dull red mattresses and a cream sofa which seemed like it had seen better days. Behind a counter a pretty girl of eighteen was standing holding a pen and a register. She was wearing old fashioned clothes. A long dress with puffed sleeves though she looked really pretty
She asked with a bright smile.
‘Yes. A room for one night’ Robert replied.
‘Well the time doesn’t really matters now does it?’ she winked back at him
Robert seemed a little taken aback at her forwardness but then gave an unsure smile to the girl.
‘Henry! Take the bags to second floor.’ The pleasant girl ordered the butler, here are the keys.’
She looked back and Robert and said, you must be hungry. I’ll show you the way to the dining hall.’
Until then even Robert hadn’t realized that he was hungry. He gave a grateful nod and followed the petite girl to the dining hall.
The hall was a huge room. It would certify as a ball room if they wanted Robert thought. There were tables around the hall and much to his surprise there were a lot of people seated at those tables.
‘How many rooms are there in this hotel miss?’ Robert inquired sitting on a table.
‘Well, as many people want to stay.’ She replied simply.
Robert gave the girl a quizzical look but she wasn’t noticing. She was looking at a waiter and calling him to his table.
‘Please make yourself comfortable and order whatever you like. The bill will be settled later.’ With that she gave a small bow and exited his presence.
The waiter handed him the menu and poured him a glass of unordered wine. Robert took a sip and gave an appreciating nod to the waiter.
‘Seems like you’ve opened an old bottle of wine. Vintage is it?’
‘Its’ just as old as the hotel sir’, the waiter replied.
Robert shook his head jovially, ‘no my friend it seems older.’
‘Maybe if there was something older’, the waiter said.
Robert laughed at the joke and ordered his food.
He drank some more wine and while waiting he looked about the hall. There seemed to be an oddity about the place.
Some people seemed to be dressed like Elvis P. whereas some were wearing old fashioned hats and trousers. There were balloon dresses and tight fitting corsets which the ladies adorned. To Robert it seemed like a huge fancy dress party where people had dressed from every era. He made a mental note to ask his waiter about this.
Just then his food arrived as if his thoughts had conjured up the waiter.
‘What’s with the odd fashion sense here?’ Robert inquired while the waiter placed steaming piles of food on his table.
‘Their fashion is as odd as your fashion sense looks to them’, the waiter said politely.
Robert sighed at the riddled answers he was getting and decided it was better if he kept his mouth shut and ate.
The food was heavenly. There wasn’t any other way to describe it.
After having his fill he drank some more wine. Feeling pretty content and drowsy he made his way to the room.
‘Do you have a club or a gamble house here?’ Robert asked a passing butler who had taken his bags.
‘Now I’m sure we do sir. I’ll take out there tomorrow. Let’s get you to your room.’
‘No, I won’t be staying here till tomorrow. I’ll leave in the morning’ Robert mumbled too drunk to stand up now.
‘I’m sure you will sir.’ Butler said and dragged him to his room.
He tucked Robert in the bed and closed the door gently. Robert was snoring before the butler had even left the room.
‘Sister, he wants to leave in the morning. Now what?’ Henry whispered to Isabelle, the petite receptionist.
Isabelle just smiled. ‘Now we will take him to the gamble house.’
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