“But I have a reservation!” shouted the man from out of town, angry now. That was the third time he’d said it. For the third time the check-in clerk, whose name was Ethan, shook his head. “Your name’s not in the book.”
The angry man glanced at his fat, white-faced wife. She looked worse now that she had an hour ago. He turned back to the clerk, tried to modify his voice. “ A single room?” he pleaded. “My wife is not well, she needs to rest. We’ll take a single.”
“Sorry sir, we’re completely booked.” Ethan flatly gestured to the impatient line of clients in the lobby. But a quick flicker in his eyes suggested that he might be able to find something for this couple if it was made worth his while.
Anger returned to the traveler’s face, but his wife touched his arm. “Let’s go, Joe,” she urged, “let’s find somewhere else. I need to get out of here – I need air.” Fury, anxiety and shame moiled in him as he picked up their luggage and steered her through the queue of people back out onto the street.
In the alley at the side of the Inn she groaned suddenly and doubled up in pain. Terrified, he grabbed and held her. Later he couldn’t remember who it was had taken them to a shed, made a sort of bed for her with bales of straw, sent for the midwife.
Ethan heard next day that a woman had given birth in the stable at the back of the Inn. He vaguely remembered the couple, one of several claiming that they had a reservation but unwilling to help him find their particular booking. He shrugged. If they didn’t know how the reservation system worked at Convention weekend, was that his fault?