Author's Note: Seventh chapter. There was supposed to be more happening, but I was tired and didn't want to write anymore that day, and what with my impatience and all... well, thank you all who reviewed, keep it up, and, if you have it, give me some constructive criticism! Please! Read and Review!
It was the worst nightmare of any of the Benbow Inn's workers. The whole of the cleaning crew stood in a long row across the breadth of the dining room, mops and buckets in tow, their backs pressed against the wall. The whole group stared at the great mess that had been left, a result of young Ethan's rambunctious guests, with wide eyes. It was horrible, an amalgam of cake, soda, and confetti that slowly threatened to encrust the entire room. The children had not limited themselves to dirtying the tables. Or the floor. Or the ceiling. They had even gone so far as attacking the waiters (as an uncharacteristically slimy Anthony Bronson evidenced). Tonight's clean up would be far from a pleasant experience.
"Alright, comrades," Anthony began, marching up and down before the row of helpers with a grim expression, a long-shafted feather duster tucked beneath his arm. He exuded the feeling of an old army general, flog in hand. His gait was militaristic, straight and almost mechanical. He stopped before one maid, a young woman named Clarabelle, and turned swiftly to face her, pivoting on one foot. He swung the duster outward, fluttering the feathers, and then brought it before the young maid's face, attempting a serious look as the duster tickled her nose. "We've all got a lot to do this night," he said, striking her twice, gently, on her forehead, then turned, restarting his stride up and down the line, "and Mrs. Hawkins is counting on us to complete the task before morning tomorrow."
The Benbow's helpers groaned at the expectation, but silenced their complaints at the sight of Bronson's unhappy glower, the assistant manager having turned immediately at the first unhappy moan. "That's better," he muttered, taking the shaft of his duster into both of his hands. "Now, dear Inn-ians," he began, his polite smile displacing the serious expression that he had been using, "let's make Mrs. Hawkins proud!" He swung the duster downward, striking an unsullied portion of the floor sharply with the feathered end. There, the group let out an uproarious cry and rushed forward past the young assistant, brandishing their mops and brooms as if they were weapons.
Anthony watched his underlings as they attacked the mess with an uncanny—and maybe humoring—ferocity. A proud grin split his face. It had only been two weeks since his promotion and already, it seemed, the crew was respecting him more. During his time as a waiter he had gained easily a certain amount of esteem from his peers in the old Benbow Inn, but there were an unmistakable few that less-than-appreciated, nigh hated, the young Canid man for his efficiency alone. But now, he thought with a smirk, at least they're keeping their snide comments to themselves.
"Mighty good work yeh've got 'ere, Mrs. Hawkins."
Anthony's ear twitched, the tones of a familiar voice reaching him. He turned round quickly and saw, his smile straightening into a tight line, Sarah Hawkins walking down the hall, nodding her head at a large Ursid man who lumbered beside her.
"Yeh sure I'll be able teh keep up wit' the lot of 'em?" the Ursid asked, stroking his chin thoughtfully at the scurrying crew, an amused smile taking his broad face.
"Of course, Jack," Sarah said benignly, patting his arm. "From what I can tell, you're a hard worker, you've got plenty of experience; I'm fortunate to have found someone like you to help with everything."
"Ah, now, Mrs. Hawkins, ma'am," Jack responded with a smile, just a bare color of red taking his cheeks. "Yeh're makin' this ol' cyborg blush."
"Oh, don't be like that, Mr. Arktos!" Sarah said. "You really are well-qualified for a job here, especially if Anthony referred you to Benbow... ah, here he is now!"
Anthony stiffened at the sound of his name, quickly returning his gaze to the workers before him, though his attention was not easily drawn away from Sarah and her new guest.
"Anthony!" Sarah called out. The Canid did not turn, a sort of mild embarrassment taking him, his posture straight, his gaze unfaltering. He did not even twitch as he felt Sarah's hand rest on one of his shoulders, though he jumped within. Here, he turned his head to face her, his usual smile plastered upon his face.
"I was calling you," she told him, removing her hand from his vest. "Didn't you hear me?"
"Ah," he said, shaking his head apologetically. "I suppose I was a little busy with the work to deal with this night," he suggested, gesturing with his duster the mess that the young partygoers had left in their preadolescent wake. "As you see, it's a bit more than we're all used to. But nothing we can't handle," he added quickly, as if hoping not to bring about any doubt toward his ability as assistant.
"That's a relief," Sarah said, letting out a sigh. "I was worried that maybe I was overworking you all."
An audible murmur rose from the crew members working in the dining room, all the waiters and waitresses stopping for a moment to mutter amongst themselves, as if daring each other to respond truthfully their thoughts on Sarah's statement. Anthony turned about before any could, however, and shot them a look. The bunch noted the look, annoyance evident in his face despite the normal grin that he adopted, and they returned swiftly to their jobs, their murmurs quieting until they dwindled into unheard whispers and thoughts.
"No," Anthony began, turning back to Sarah and Jack. "Not at all, Mrs. Hawkins."
Sarah blinked for a moment, unsure what reaction was in order for the situation. She settled for a slight bewilderment, but quickly enough shook it off with a nod.
"Okay then," she said at length. She moved away from the subject as quickly and discreetly as she possibly could. "Oh, yes, Anthony," she started, remembering the large person beside her, "you know Jack, don't you."
"Jack?" the Canid echoed, arcing a brow at the Ursid as if the name didn't suit him at all.
"Don't you know him?" Sarah asked after a moment of staring on Anthony's part, an awkwardness taking the air about them. "He said that you referred him to us..."
"Yeah, don' you remember, Bronson?" the man named Jack interjected, his smile becoming strained. "Down in town? The 'help wanted' sign yeh were puttin' up?"
Anthony's eyes widened at the mention and he nodded suddenly. "Ah, yes!" he replied, giving Jack a strange look before returning to Sarah. "Yes, I met him down in town."
"And you didn't recognize him?" Sarah asked a twinge of disbelief in her voice.
"Well," Anthony began, putting a hand to his chin, "it was just strange to me to hear him referred to as Jack, I suppose. He had called himself-"
"Arktos," Jack finished, nodding his head. "We didn' use firs' names, y'know. Tha's why I thought it strange teh hear 'is name as Anthony this mornin'."
Sarah nodded her head, an understanding smile stretching across her face. "Oh, I see!" she said. Anthony and Jack exchanged a glance, its meaning hidden from any witnesses, yet understood between them. Anthony released a sigh.
"So," he said, turning to Jack, "you're working here now, are you?"
"Aye," Jack replied, nodding his head. "Mrs. Hawkins hired me jus' now."
Anthony nodded. "You've all tasks assigned completed, have you?" he asked, his expression strangely serious despite the smile.
"Aye," the man repeated, "the ones I was assigned teday, if tha's wha' yer sayin', lad."
Anthony jerked his head in another nod. "Good work then."
Sarah watched this short scene with a sort of confusion, not completely understanding what Anthony could have meant by work, seeing as she had just then hired the man. But she brushed this off, understanding that Anthony was of stout mind and would not usually say anything that he did not mean to say.
"So then, Jack," Sarah said, breaking the silence that had begun between the three. "Do you think you can handle a dirty room like this?"
"Like this?" Jack asked, glancing over the frosted ceiling almost unsurely. "Well..." A smile came upon his face. "O' course I can, Mrs. Hawkins. T'aint a problem fer old Jack Arktos!"
He strode quickly toward the mess, gaining the usual stare from those around him who have not the fortune to normally encounter cyborgs. He pulled his jacket off his shoulders and his hat off his head, hung them both off the back of a chair that had already been tidied, and rolled up the voluminous sleeve that housed his biological arm. Borrowing a brush and bucket from a young man that had stopped his work to stare shamelessly at the Ursid, he quickly slopped a good amount of water upon one sullied table and began cleaning. His moves were quick, yet efficient, and none could say it was for him being part mechanical that allowed him this ability. He used nothing special in his work; his metal hand did no more than hold the brush as he ran it back and forth over the dirty table. No miraculous tool, no labor-saving device aided him. Just regular old elbow grease.
It took less than a minute for the table to be complete, cleaned well and only needing drying. Jack moved quickly to the next table. He scrubbed that easily and continued on to the one beside it. The whole crew stopped to gape at their new addition, amazed by his appearance. Jack, in the middle of his fifth table halted his own work for a moment, realizing the stares and the fact that he was the only one working.
"Well?" he asked, straightening out. "What are yeh all lookin' at? Aren' we s'posed teh be cleanin' this mess or am I the only swab in this room?"
The crew quickly returned to their work, muttering "Aye aye's" as they continued, and Jack restarted his cleaning. Sarah watched them with an amused expression.
"He's a real leader, isn't he?" she asked Anthony, who stood beside her.
"Yes," Anthony replied after a moment. "He seems capable."
"Very capable, if you ask me," Sarah said, smiling at the large form that worked amongst the other, smaller figures.
Anthony raised a brow at his superior, but nodded his head at her statement. "Let's hope."
It was well-before dawn when the crew had completed their task (a situation that they hadn't thought possible before Jack had arrived with Sarah). Everyone was tired, nearly overwhelmed by the labor that they had faced that day, and, saluting Sarah with a weary but satisfied smile, they made for their beds. Sarah watched as those who hadn't left at the ending of their shift as they either walked out the door, ready to go home, or made their way down the long hall on the ground floor, staggering and yawning their way to the rooms that Sarah had courteously supplied them. Soon, she was left with only Anthony and her new employee Jack, both of whom seemed nearly as tired as the others.
"Firs' day was t'ree hours a' nigh', an' I'm still tired," Jack said, stretching out his arms. "Are these li'l shindigs an occasional t'ing, or was I fool enough teh apply to this job?" he asked Sarah jokingly, a friendly smile taking his face.
"If these things weren't occasional," Sarah said, beaming back, "I wouldn't be standing here beside you."
Anthony watched them quietly, his smile still somewhat intact though undeniably drooping. "Don't you suppose we should turn in for the night, Mrs. Hawkins?" he asked after a moment, gesturing to the stairs.
"Yes, that's right," Sarah said, yawning despite all self-control.
"Well then," Jack said, putting his hat and jacket back on, "I suppose I'll be back later, eh?" He made his way to the door and was just about to turn the knob when Sarah's hand made its way onto his own, stopping him.
"It's late and dark, Jack," she told him, a worried look taking her features. "Do you have a place to stay?"
"Well," Jack began, somewhat flustered at the sudden contact. "I'm stayin' down a' a motel in town, ma'am."
"That's a good way off," Sarah said, biting her bottom lip in concern. "Don't you think it would be wiser to stay here?"
"Stay here?" the man asked, raising one eyebrow in surprise. "Fer the night?"
"How about for when you're employed here?" she suggested. "A lot of the other workers in Benbow do it as well."
"But, how do I pay-"
"Don't worry," Sarah assured him. "It's not that much, and it'll be taken from your salary. Plus, you wouldn't have to worry about having to travel back to your room in the dark. There are some unpleasant people who lurk around Benbow at night, Mr. Silver," she told him, shaking her head.
Jack beamed at her warmly. "It's awful nice teh know tha' yeh care, Mrs. Hawkins, bu' I think tha' I can deal with them pups easy. And besides," he added, "didn' a few people jus' leave the inn a mo' ago?"
"Yes, well, they live nearby, and they're more accustomed to the area," she said in response. "You told me you were new here; that you've only been to Montressor once. I think it would be best if you stayed here at the inn."
"Aye, lass, bu' I wouldn' want teh bother yeh..."
"You leaving and getting hurt would bother me," Sarah said candidly, leading him away from the door. Jack seemed taken aback by the woman's persistence and followed her, flustered.
"But, me things are back at the hotel..."
"You can get them tomorrow," she told him. She started to lead him up the stairs to a free room. Anthony stood, watching her as she pulled the Ursid about, his smile just barely sustained. He followed them quietly, leaving the candles downstairs lit for the first time during his employment.
"Aye, but I'll still be payin' fer tha' room on a nigh' I didn' use it."
"Don't worry," Sarah said, waving off his words. "You don't have to pay the Benbow for using their room tonight, then."
Arktos quieted himself finally, pretty sure that the woman was resolute on her choice. He smiled at her, and followed now without being dragged. Sarah took him to a room on the third floor, just a few doors away from Anthony's.
"I'm sorry you couldn't stay on the first floor with the other workers," she said, unlocking the door with the master key that she kept in her pocket. "But all the rooms on that floor are taken, and the second floor is reserved exclusively for guests."
The cyborg chuckled nicely. "Don' worry abou' tha', ma'am," he told her with a charming grin. "Don' t'ink the lot of 'em would be comfertable wit' me aroun' anyways, if yeh understan' me."
"Oh, don't be ridiculous," she told him. She pushed open the door and stepped aside for him to step in. It was a modest room, with a bed and a night stand, as well as a lamp and a chest of drawers. "I know it's not much," Sarah said, noting the stare that the cyborg gave upon entering.
"Don' worry, lass," he said, walking over the large window and glancing at the moon, clearly seen from his chamber. "It's won'erful. Loads be'er than tha' room I 'ad a' the 'otel." He sniffed his large nose. "An' loads cleaner."
Sarah laughed at the statement.
"Thank yeh, ma'am," Jack said, turning round and shaking her hand appreciatively. He sat down on his bed quietly. "I'll be seein' yeh in the mornin' I suppose."
"Of course," she answered, and she shut the door.
That was it! Yeah... I need to watch treasure planet again... which will probably irritate my family... but who really cares, eh? I would link you up to pictures I drew of Anthony Bronson... but something keeps happening everytimeI try. So... f'you want to see them, go to crispy-gypsy. kay? It's my art... site...gallery... thing... I warn you. I'm not the best artist.