Chapter 8

93 23 99

Barlow pushed open the door to his room at the inn. He noted with surprise how clean it was, furnished with an antique dresser and a double bed set atop a large braided rug. Quaint. The room matched the rustic vibe of the inn's bar and dining area. Above the headboard hung a painting of whitetail deer grazing against the backdrop of high snowy peaks. Wasn't typical of a hotel painting he would find in downtown Columbus. Having to share a common bathroom with other guests made him feel awkward, but he figured he could adapt.

After plopping his overnight bag on the dresser, Barlow kicked off his work boots and tested the mattress. He lay back on the pillow and closed his eyes. No TV in the room, but it made no difference. He was tired. If he went to sleep now, he could get an early start in the morning.

 If he went to sleep now, he could get an early start in the morning

Oops! This image does not follow our content guidelines. To continue publishing, please remove it or upload a different image.

Barlow had set the alarm app on his phone for six. The Friday night band Trevor had warned him about kept him awake until well after midnight. After that, he slept fitfully until giving up at five. He sat on the side of the bed. A dead silence hung in the air. None of the other lodgers stirred.

He yawned. What were the chances he'd be able to get a cup of coffee at this hour? None, he knew. The restaurant downstairs wouldn't open for a couple hours and there was no coffee pot in the room. Unlike Columbus where there was a Starbucks on every corner, the nearest coffee would be more than twenty miles away at one of the all-night truck stops located near the town of Carlisle.

An advantage to getting up early, there would be no competition to use one of the bathrooms at each end of the hall.

Pulling on his trousers, Barlow grabbed his toiletries, room key, and shuffled to the nearest shower.

At six, he figured Lester Cunningham, his father's foreman at the Jackson Construction Company would be awake. He punched the man's number into his phone. Les answered right away sounding chipper. Barlow introduced himself and decided to get straight to the point. "I'm wondering if we could meet sometime this morning?"

Les took a moment before responding. "I remember you. You were a good worker as a kid. I'm sorry about your father. All of us at the company are."

"It's Saturday, but if you could grant me a few minutes of your time, I'd appreciate it."

After an awkward silence, Les asked, "What's going to happen, Barlow? None of us know what your father planned in the event of his passing. Besides myself, there are five other men on the payroll, and we're all nervous. Some of the guys are putting out feelers with other companies."

"That's why I want to meet with you. I'll explain everything."

"In that case, come on over to the house. I'll be waiting."

"Look, Les, I prefer to meet you at the office, because I'm going to need to look at the company financials."

"I'll be there in half an hour."

Barlow ended the call and headed toward the small office located just outside Millerstown. He recalled how his father spent little time there. It's where he did his paperwork and met with clients. The plain building was nothing more than a dressed-up modular unit, but it served its purpose.

Ripples in the NightWhere stories live. Discover now