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I'll never forget Robin: She looked like a scared little bird

Updated on June 6, 2009

it's all part of running a bed and breakfast

She appeared at my door, looking like a little scared bird. She had no luggage, nothing else with her except the clothes she was wearing. She came to spend a couple of nights at my bed and breakfast. Another innkeeper had brought her. Robin had been staying at her Inn and wanted to stay a few more nights, but there was no availability. I thought it strange she had no luggage and asked her about it. She told me she had flown into Louisville, gone down town to have lunch, then left her luggage on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant while she went shopping. She was surprized to find it was gone when she returned. She dismissed my reaction, which was one of disbelief, and asked to see her room. I let it go, figuring I could question her about it later.

Before taking her upstairs, I asked for her credit card. She handed me a xeroxed piece of paper with a credit card printed on it, and started telling me how she used to live in my neighborhood a few years ago, when it was unsafe. I had been here for 10 years, and it had always been safe during that time. She said she lived across the street from me and that she was always scared living there. And, she added, she was still scared to be here today. That explained the "scared little bird" look when she walked in the door. I asked about the credit card on the piece of paper. She said it was her employer's; that he had faxed her a copy of it when she stayed at the other bed and breakfast. She had lost her card and he was in Germany. I checked this out later when he called.

We wandered into the living room and sat down on the sofa. She began telling me about herself. She had worked for a modeling agency in New York, she said, where eventually she was fired. They were still after her though, and wanted to do her harm. She then jumped to a story about why her children had been taken away from her. By this time, I was pretty certain she was paranoid. Whether she was psychotic or just terribly neurotic, I couldn't tell. But she had stayed with my innkeeper friend for three days with no apparent mishap, so I figured she was at least half-way sane. I left her in the living room and tried running the credit card though for a 3-day stay. It went though with no problem, so I took her upstairs to her room.

As the days went by, she never left the house. I put out fruit, cookies and granola bars every day, as I always do for guests. And every day she would eat them all with relish. She continually followed me around, very close to my back, so that if I turned around, she would be right in my face. I mean right in my face. And I'm a person that likes her space. One day she came down and asked me for candles. I told her I didn't have any. I was afraid she'd burn the house down. The next day, when I went up to clean her room, I discovered she had crept down in the middle of the night, found the candles, gathered up all the magazines around the house, and brought them into her room. Her door was open and she was lying on the bed half naked, with magazines strewn everywhere and candles sitting all around the room. She had also changed the furniture completely around.

I was appalled at what she was doing and started to say something, but then she asked if she could stay 3 more nights. Since it was at a time when I was short on revenue, I said okay, but she would have to move to another room and keep her door closed. The room she had been staying in was rented to someone else for the week-end. When I went down to run the credit card through for three more days, she decided to take a bath. She only had the clothes on her back, which she washed and hung in the bathroom to dry every few days. I could hear her singing in the bathroom. I thought she had left the door open, because I could hear her clear down on the first floor. Her bathroom opened out on the hallway. When I looked up through the staircase, she was streaking across the floor, buck naked, to the linen closet in the hallway. She grabbed some extra towels and streaked back to the bathroom, singing all the way.

You're probably wondering where all my other guests were. They were actually checking in that evening, for the week-end. I was thankful that no one but Robin had been there for three days. I thought about the week-end, when I would have a house full of guests, with trepidation. I knew I had to talk to her about streaking through the hallway, etc. The next morning, there were ten for breakfast. Robin came down and was acting fairly normal. After breakfast, everyone left for the day and Robin went upstairs to take a bath. I went into the kitchen to clean up. When I came back out, I could see and hear her in the parlor, naked again under a half open robe and bare feet, sitting on my beautiful Victorian settee, singing Ave Maria.

I sat down on the settee next to her and explained why she couldn't wander around in her robe, while there were guests in the house. She started telling me about her boss, whom she had met here in Louisville in some bar, a while back. She ended up saying that he was now her boyfriend. She said he lived Germany, but came to the states often on business. She switched the conversation to a discussion of how she was going to leave soon, in a limousine. It would come from Cincinnati and take her back there, where she would catch a plane to Germany. I was getting really confused, at this point. She finally said she would be here only one more night.

Next morning, I was making omelets in the kitchen, when one of my guests came in and said there were two limousines out in front and a driver asking for Karen. I went to the door and asked him if he meant Robin not Karen. And, just at that moment, Robin appeared at the top of the stairs. She was carrying a suitcase. I asked if she'd called a limousine and she said "Yes, I'll be right back". She turned and went back up to her room. When I asked why she said her name was Karen she never answered me. She returned without the suitcase and left the house. I had run the credit card though again the night before, so I wasn't worried about the money. I was actually happy to see her go.

The next day, I was looking for my Yoga book and happened to look in the closet of the room where Robin had been staying. There, thrown into a corner, was my suitcase. It dawned on me this was the suitcase she was carrying when I looked up and saw her at the top of the stairs yesterday. I opened the suitcase to find a selection of all my best clothing, which I kept locked in a large storeroom on the third floor. She had evidently found the key, picked out all my best pieces, including a pair of beautiful new leather boots, a linen pantsuit, cashmere sweater, and other things she could wear in Germany. We were the same size, so everything I owned would fit her. It was a miracle that I was at the bottom of the stairs the day before when she started down; otherwise, my clothes along with my dignity would have been long gone.


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