Day 1: Arrival
Johnny surveyed the polished white marble floors and counters leading to the reception. “How can we be of service to you today?” the concierge’s voice echoed through the room.
“I’d like to check in, I just got in from Texas,” Johnny replied readily.
“Wow, from Texas? What a trip that must have been, we don’t usually get too many cowboys down here in Costa Rica.” the concierge said with a tone of excitement and flashed a huge grin.
Noah grasped Jonathan’s bags and loaded them onto a shiny metal cart.
“Your bags will be up in about an hour, right this way sir.” the concierge lead Johnny out to the entrance of cobbled brick. Another staff member pulled up a white golf cart with clear plastic on all sides. Johnny slid into the back seat. Damp rubber caressed his legs.
“Sorry about the wetness si sir sir, it’s rainy the past few days.”
“Not at all, what’s your name?” Jonathan questioned from the back seat.
“I am ricardo sir, I am your driver for the next days.” Lush greenery enveloped the two as they traversed further and further into the mountainous jungle.
“Nice to meet you Ricardo.” With two clicks Ricardo had unlocked Johnny’s door.
“Here are your keys sir. If you have question the front desk is on the telephone just press 1.”
“Thanks so much ricardo I’ll see you soon.” Johnny closed the door and retreated into the cool dry of his casita. Furnished with a large oak dining table in the living room and a king size bed in the bedroom. Elated to see his baggage had already arrived, Johnny changed into his bed robes and collapsed.
The sound of flesh and wood woke Johnny from his slumber. Jonathan tossed the white linen sheets to the floor and slipped into a pair of fluffy sandals.
“Yes, yes I’m coming” Johnny approached door.
“And what is it that you want at --” Johnny stopped.
“Yes sir, I come with breakfast you ordered.”
“Yes, thank you, you can just put it in the living room.” One egg over medium, two slices of streaky bacon and a perfectly grilled chocolate buttermilk pancake.
“Looks better than Kirby!” Johnny turned towards Ricardo with a grin plastered on his face. Ricardo was already gone. Jonathan spun around. Ricardo and his cart were nowhere to be found.
The breakfast went down easy and Johnny prepared for his next two days. Out of the immense number of excursions he could have chosen from, “The Adventure Package” offered the most appeal. It came complete with an open aired plane flight, a mountain biking tour, and a bird watching event in the lush jungles further up the mountain. Johnny slipped into his brown hiking boots and laced them evenly. They fit like a glove.
Upon placing down the telephone Johnny collected his raincoat and exited the building. It had scarcely been 2 minutes but Ricardo was already outside with gleaming white cart at his side.
“Pleasure to see you sir did you enjoy the food this morning?”
“Yes, I thought it was good just like at home.”
“Glad to hear it sir. On our way down I’m going to give you a small tour of the facility and show you our kitchen and spa facilities.” Ricardo smiled through the small rear view window, and the cart eased forward. The other houses stretched out before John, at least thirty ran in a curved lined down the hillside.
“So the plane won’t take off without us?”
“Oh no no, sir. In fact you’re the only guest staying with us right now and so we can accommodate almost any request you have at whatever time you need.”
“Well I guess that’s cool.”
“Yes quite cool I’d say.”
“But I did think I was visiting during the most busy season?”
The two rolled up to a kitchen with ten chefs visible chopping vegetables, grilling, or cleaning. Each was dressed in a white shirt and white hat. They had black ties wrapped around their necks.
“Yes sir, it is true that we have lots of visitors normally. And here we are sir, at the kitchen facilities. You see through the windows that we have 20 chefs in total working to fill the hotels food needs.”
“Wow that’s quite impressive, I don’t know if I’ve ever stayed somewhere with this kind of work force.”
“And not only our chefs are impressive but also our food source. Please look to the left, sir.” Ricardo pointed down the hill towards a white tarped building that stuck out of the green.
“There is our greenhouse. We grow all our vegetables and fruits there and use the remains from the stables to fertilize. We are completely sustainable if we are ever cut off from the outside world.”
The cart began to roll away and Jonathan took his last peeks at the chefs still diligently working.
“Ricardo this is all very impressive.”
“Thank you sir I take great pride in the work we do here.”
“Another thing, you don’t have to keep calling me sir. Just John is fine.”
“Thank you, Just John.” Ricardo grinned and skirted down the dirt road on the left towards a sleek white bi plane with two open aired seats for the pilot and a co-pilot.
The engine roared with force and Huberto strapped Johnny into the seat with a key. “So I’m stuck now I guess.” Johnny glanced at Huberto but he didn’t respond. Huberto had white stubble on his face and lines from aging. Johnny estimated early 50s. Huberto slipped into the seat behind Jonathan and placed a set of headphones over his ears, similar to the ones that he himself had equipped.
“I think you will be able to hear me now.” Huberto’s voice crackled across the speakers.
“Ha, yes I hear you now. For a moment I assumed you didn’t speak english.”
“That is quite funny John. In fact I speak Japanese and Mandarin well. I used to fly japan air until I decided to settle down here in Costa Rica.”
“So you do this for a living now.”
“Yes, John I fly professionally and occasionally I give people like yourself lessons.”
“That is the life”
“Yes I haven’t left. I here and I am quite content at the Stanley Resort. So to start the trip I will help us take off.” said Hubert as he slid the engine lever forward. The fan squealed to life, the plane began to move. Hubert pulled the right lever and the plane slowly turned towards the runway.
“Are you ready John.”
“Yeah let’s do it” Johnny replied. And with those words Hubert shoved the lever all the way forward.
20,000 feet off the ground the two glided without the motors.
“Ok sir I am going to let you use the controls now.”
Johnny looked wide eyed at Huberto.
“I don’t know if I’m quite ready for that yet, being so high up with this view is just enough for me.
“If you insist.” Huberto replied with a twang of sorrow in his voice.
Day 3 : Revelation
Johnny fumbled with his metal bob then placed it on the counter.
“Yes here is my key it’s been a quite wonderful stay.”
“Ah I’m glad you enjoyed it, Johnny but there is some news I must trouble you with. It seems that the roads will be closed till next week.” The concierge replied with a smile that spread from ear to ear.
“The roads are closed for a week!? How am I supposed to get home?”
“Well Johnny, for now leaving is out of the question but I have reserved your room for you for another week free of charge.”
“Free of charge?”
“Yes sir. I have also booked you another flight for later today. Huberto told me about how much you enjoyed your first trip.”
“What time is that scheduled for?
“I put you down for 5:00 pm.”
“And there isn’t any problem flying today?”
“Oh no sir the storm that closed the roads won’t hit till 9”
“Ok I guess I'll take your word for it.”
The clock on the wall clicked and ticked. Clouds hung overhead and a bead of sweat drifted down Johnny's neck. Overcome with boredom Johnny scoured the TV. No news about the storm. Not even 2 channels just one with hotel information.
Johnny’s curiosity carried him outside to inspect the day. A small man in all tan clothes was crouched facing down the mountain. He sat patiently tended to a patch of black flowers. After watching him for a few moments Johnny took action. The gardener didn’t hear the ground crunch as Johnny approached from behind. In a sudden movement he swung around and raised up his planter like a butcher ready to mutilate.
“Oh! I didn’t see you there Johnny.”
Johnny was stunned and took a few steps back.
“You didn’t mean to use that on me did you?”
“Oh, no sir, I am just a little on edge.” the gardener responded.
Jonathan examined the wrinkles and beard on his face. Easily 60.
“What are you worried?”
“Nothing in particular but I have been here for over ten years.”
“Ten years! Sheesh that’s a long time.”
“Yeah the roads have been closed for a long time.” the gardener trailed off and looked around him hesitantly.
“What did you say about the roads?” Johnny leaned in. Any information about leaving as soon as possible was worth it’s weight in gold.
“I don’t know if you know this Johnny but their is a great view of the roads when you take your flight today.”
“No I didn’t know that , too many clouds last time I was out.”
“I think it might be best for you to take a look at that while you are flying. Now please leave I have lots of work to do. These roses aren’t going to garden themselves.
Engine revving Huberto assumed his position behind Johnny.
“Alright sir today you will take the controls?”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
“Then let’s begin.”
Huberto pushed in the lever and the plane accelerated to the point of flight. A feeling of freedom engulfed Johnny and his stomach felt light. 10,000 feet the plane read.
“Ok this is as high as we will go today.”
“I think I’m ready to fly.”
Jonathan placed both hands on the clutch. His knuckles turned white.
“Ok you are in control now.”
Jonathan sighed. No difference.
“So now I can steer with this joystick?”
“Yes, I will take over if there is any trouble.”
Jonathan nose dived. The plane accelerated and Huberto gasped.
“Where are you going?”
“Below the clouds.”
“I’m sorry Johnny I can’t let you do that. Stop now!”
Jonathan continued his descent and broke free of the white marshmallow clouds surrounding him. Sprawled before him the road wound down the mountain. Johnny shivered.Three cars were making the descent below.
“I think it’s time I took over the controls”
It was just Jonathan and Huberto, 10,000 feet about the rest of the world. Jonathan could hear Huberto’s heavy breathing through the mic and feel his piercing glare in the back of his skull.
Sweet rolled down Jonathan's forehead while he stood pacing outside his casita. Humidity blanketed him and the sun glared. No sign of the gardener. Jonathan retreated inside. Hurriedly he grabbed his money. 1000 pesos, a green shirt, and a spare pair of pants. Duffle Bag in hand Jonathan lurked to the living room. Every step and the queese in his stomach worsened. Slowly Jonathan eased his eye up to the window.
There he was, gardening his plants outside. With a start Jonathan rushed out the door. John approached from behind.
“I saw the roads.”
“Excuse me sir?” The gardener replied. Jonathan took a step forward. The gardener turned and faced him. No beard. Jonathan realed.
“Who are you?” Jonathan questioned.
“I am the gardener.”
“And what about the other gardener?” Jonathan asked.
“I’m sorry sir. We had to replace him.”
“You replaced him?”
“Yes, John he hadn’t been fulfilling his duties.”
“I hope your plants do well.” Jonathan hustled away.
John struggled to open up his hotel room door. His shaking hands finally calmed and he entered. Duffle bag in hand Jonathan made his way to the land line. 911. No response. 1-911. Not even a ring. The phone let out one continuous beep and as Jonathan's tried more and more numbers hope fleed. He dialed 0, the concierge’s number.
“Hello how may I help you today John?”
Jonathan threw the phone on the ground. Knifes. Furiously Jonathan rifled through the kitchen. One drawer, and another, one more pulled off their hinges. Nothing but a butter knife. Jonathan gripped it in his hand and retreated back to his room. Jonathan sat in bed with knife in his hand and the duffel bag at his side. Minutes turned to hours and the sun dipped below the north side of the mountain. Darkness came, and the last of the light receded.
Johnny eased himself out of bed, knuckles white gripping the knife in his right hand. Johnny grasped the landline with his left hand and dialed 0.
“Yes, how can I be of assistance to you?”
“Send a cart.” Johnny hung up and grabbed his duffle bag. He edged close up to the front door in anticipation for Ricardo. Headlights rolled down the road and slowed before his casita. Johnny exited holding the knife behind his back.
“Ah good to see you Mr. Johnny. Where to?” Johnny gulped and choked out.
“Right away sir I hope you won’t be leaving soon.”
Ricardo pressed on the gas and made the traverse down the mountain. The lobby was within sight. Johnny's breathing became spaced. One breath, and another. The cart slowed to a stop. In an instant Ricardo had hit the floor. Johnny breathed heavily holding the backside off the knife up to his face. Enough force below the ear and anyone can faint. Johnny stumbled out of the backseat and opened up the front door of the cart. Ricardo’s unconscientious body slid out with a thump. Johnny stepped into the cart and sped down the hill. Glowing lights from the city marked his escape.