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Orcas Island: Murder Mystery Vacation

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PART I: The Inn (narrated by Leigh)

I took a trip to Orcas Island last weekend with my girlboyfriend. We decided to stay at the Old Trout Bed & Breakfast because it felt like the perfect mix of hippie-country-grandma, and that was the vibe we were feeling.

When we arrived, we were greeted by an older Frenchman by the name of Henri. In the entryway was a fish tank that had been drained and filled with a little dirt and about 20 different fairy figurines in a magical forest scene. On top of the tank there was a book about fairies. Classical music was blasting. We were taken to what seemed to be the living room of his house, and told to sit down at a table while he got everything together for us. There were brochures for whale watching expeditions, a few fliers with information on where you could dine out on the island, and a printed email from the whale watching folks announcing a newborn calf named K-22 all spread out for us to look at.

Then Henri came back from the kitchen and sat down with us for a little while to ask us a few questions and get better aquainted. He asked us what we would like to drink with breakfast in his thick French accent,
"Would you prefer apple juice or orange juice?"
We both replied, "Orange juice, please."
He told us about how you had to pay a fee to drive in Moran State Park, and disliked the poor budget choices the government had made for this to have happened. He wondered if this was our first visit to the island, and I explained I had been there several times, but it was Jude's first time in the San Juans. He talked about his garden, the common areas, and a few of the rules of the B'n'B. After the check in process was over, he showed us to our room, The Greenroom. We got up from our seats, expecting to walk a bit of a distance, but instead were taken to the door about two feet away from the table where we were just seated. He unlocked it, gestured to us to go on in, and came in behind us to show us around.

The bed was a Queen and super high off the ground. There were step stools on either side, which we appreciated since we are both pretty little dudes. The bedspread was floral, and the bed frame was carved and wooden with acorns decorating the tops of the posts. There was a throw blanket draped over the foot of the bed that had different kinds of flowers all over it with their names next to their picture. In the middle of the bed was a silver fish tray full of candy and a bunch more brochures about what to do on the island. There was a Bats Maru CD player and a stack of CDs including Bette Midler, and Ray Charles, and the TWIN PEAKS SOUNDTRACK, which we would listen to on repeat during our stay at the Old Trout. It just seemed appropriate. 

The actual greenroom was on the southeast side of the house and overlooked the pond. It was a step down from the bedroom, behind the bathroom. This room was full of all sorts of country treasures including a vase-slash-teapot that was intricately designed to look like a charming little country cottage with cats and rabbits all around. There were several cacti, a jade plant, and a whole shelf full of mini wicker baskets. The TV-slash-VCR was in this room along with a pretty wicked collection of VHS from the late eighties/early nineties.

The bathroom was small, and there was a rainbow trout painting hung above the toilet. There was a window joining the bathroom to the greenroom adorned with homemade floral print drapes. Each room had just the right amount of thrifted country grandma goodness which was creepy and "charming" all at once.

When we were left alone to explore the Bed and Breakfast, we realized the walls in our room were paper thin. You could hear as much as a sneeze from the next room over, not to mention word-for-word conversation of anyone in or near the common area. We headed out on the wrap-around deck to the garden that Henri had spoke of during the check in process, full wine glasses in hand.

PART II: The Garden (narrated by Jude)

Henri, Henri quite contrary. How does your garden grow?

We didn't need to be on mushrooms to feel like we were trippin' balls in a psychedelic nursery rhyme as we strolled through garden. The only difference was this nursery rhyme read: 
There was an old inn keeper who lived in a shoe, he only had a couple of guests so he knew what to do. He gave them some broth and a piece of bread...kissed them all gently and put them to bed.

Henri did knock ever so gently that night when he came to our door to call us to dinner. The dinner was somewhat pleasant. Awkward conversation in close quarters with a couple on their 7th wedding anniversary. Bad jokes, inquiries about employment and pass times. We brought our own bottle of champagne, which we were quickly informed would not go with the salad because of the combination of vinegar and bubbly. 
“I thought champagne went with everything!”, exclaimed Leigh.

“To you, maybe. Enjoy”, uttered Henri.
We wound down the night in our room with the Twin Peaks soundtrack on repeat, as usual. Prior to the questionable circumstances of the bed and breakfast and inn keeper, we had a fabulous day seeing the sights of Mount Constitution. We took so many pictures during our exploration and were looking at them in our room after dinner. One creepy thing stood out. When we came across a picture we took near a pond, we noticed what looked like a person in a robe surrounded in blue light in the middle of the woods. Could it be an apparation? It kind of looked like Jesus, or a catholic saint.

Needless to say, after this day we were wiped out. I fell asleep early, but woke up to Leigh tapping my shoulder. With a whisper, she woke me up.
“Someones been knocking and trying to get in”. 
It was midnight. When I listened, I heard the same quiet knocking on the door as before. Spaced out about one measure apart and gentle. 
“What is Henri doing?”, I asked myself. 
Then I heard the keys jingling. He was trying to open the door. I jumped out of bed panicked in fear and said aggressively, 
A soft, docile voice said hello back. I said loudly in my fight/flight mode, 
“What are you DOING?”
The keys stopped jingling and there was no reply. 

Feeling vulnerable and frozen, we stood there looking at each other. Leigh acted fast and grabbed all our belongings. I put on my shoes and we headed for the only other exit in our room, which was a screen door leading to a wrap around porch that went to the front of the house where our car was parked. We bolted through the darkness, slammed the car doors and peeled wheels down the shadowy island roads.

What in the hell was going on? Why didn’t he answer me? What was he going to do? Why was he trying to unlock our door at midnight? If I was bigger, or a man, I would have opened the door to see who it was and if it was trouble I’d punch him in the face. But we were like gazelles in the Savanna; maintaining speeds as high as 50 miles per hour upon sensing a lion or tiger. 

There was no getting off the island in the middle of the night. We drove to where we knew. The ferry landing. We slept in the truck at the ferry landing that night. Inner tubes that were in the back were our pillows. Sweatshirts as blankets enveloped random body parts as we dreamed of bears attacking the truck and swat teams surrounding the Old Trout. 

Six am rolled around and I attempted to do the same with my neck. Our muscles were frozen from the cold and we were in a terrible mental/physical state. We thought about hopping on the ferry back to Seattle but he had our debit card info and we needed to return the key. So, since it was daylight, we felt safer and decided to go back to confront Henri.

The gravel crunched under our wheels as we crept back into the driveway.  Walking carefully back around the porch and through our sliding door back into our room, we felt nervous.  Leigh immediately walked past the bed and over to the door where the mystery person had been knocking and trying to get in with a key six hours earlier. She turned the handle and opened it. It was unlocked. Someone had come in.

We were beyond happy about our decision to leave earlier.  It was pretty mind blowing that someone had actually opened the door and come in. Also, they left it unlocked? WTF?

All we could do now was sleep for 3 hours and wait for the creepy knock at 9 am when Henri was scheduled to bring us breakfast.

And that’s exactly what we woke up to.

I opened the door and was ready to confront him immediately. I let him put the tray of food down before I went for it. By his shaky hands and unsure glance into my eyes, he seemed guilty already. I watched “The First 48”, a reality TV show documenting the first 48 hours of crime investigations, religiously last year so I knew all the tactics of investigating potential suspects. How they deny, don’t make eye contact, create a scenario to blame someone else, and eventually put themselves at the crime scene.

Henri did all of that. 

“What happened last night?”, I said. Henri returned a shrug and confused look.

 “With the door. You were knocking on it and trying to get in with a key?”, I accused.

“No it wasn’t me. It must have been another guest. Partying, he got too drunk and went to the wrong room”, Henri replied.

We were told there were only two other guests, with whom we had a pleasant dinner with that night I might add. They weren’t partying. Their cottage wasn’t even attached to the house. It was separate, across the yard. It was an elaborate explanation and it didn’t make sense.

I looked at him suspiciously and he bid us adieu with his usual, “Enjoy”. 

We didn’t touch the breakfast and packed the rest of our stuff. I walked out into the dining room and said, “We’re ready to settle up”. He was surprised we were leaving so soon. Leigh asked him again, “You really have no idea about the knocking and the keys last night?”

He was putting on the act like he was flabbergasted we would think he would come in. “Why would I come into your room?”

Leigh was raw in emotion and without censoring, listed all the reasons women fear unwanted men coming into their room. We offered no apologies for our reaction and demanded answers. He said there was another guy, who was staying downstairs that must have done it. He said he asked him, just a minute ago, if he went into the wrong room last night and the guy apparently replied, almost

Henri’s wife came out from the kitchen and they spoke French to each other. She said, “Henri saw the light come one last night when you left and went to check it out”. Henri said, “Yes, I saw the light go on from when you left out the screen door last night. It woke me up so I went to check it out”. That’s when he put himself at the scene of the crime. Also, his room was across the house. I don’t see how he could have seen the light go on. 

I said, “So, you were outside by our room last night at midnight when this was happening? You saw a light by our room go on at midnight? You were awake then?”

He got flustered and denied being there. We wanted our night comped but he’s not that type of guy so we left. 

An eerie phone call from the Old Trout came up on Leigh’s caller ID as we drove to the ferry. It was a man’s voice. It sounded forced and scared.
“I’m sorry for going to the wrong room last night and ruining your stay. I’m sorry."
It seemed as though Henri made the supposed basement guy apologize to us. Who’s to say what really happened that night.We're just glad we made it back alive.

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