Clyde the Innkeeper

Hello, everyone, and let me first say that I’m honoured to be here at the Strand Café’s inaugural open mic night. I’m Nate the Great, and I’ll be doing something a little different tonight. Do you guys like magic? Do you like card tricks? I know everyone is probably anxious to get back to the wonderful folk music, but let me assure you that this isn’t one of those “pick a card, any card” type tricks. No, sir — I’m going to use this deck of cards to tell a story.

Who here has heard of a man named Clyde the Innkeeper before? Show of hands? Anybody? Well, gather around the table in front of me, folks, and I’ll tell his tale. So the thing about Clyde the Innkeeper is that he’s a bit of a . . .

Nate the Great lays a joker on the table in front of him.

Joker! He’s always clowning around with his guests when they check in to the . . .

Nate lays down three aces and the five of diamonds.

Four Aces! Oh . . . Well, I guess some of the bulbs on the inn’s sign have burnt out. Because the sign out front is supposed to have four aces, but one of them doesn’t light up anymore. And the five is the, uh . . . The cost of replacing the burnt-out bulbs is five dollars, which Clyde will definitely get around to doing soon. But anyways, one night Clyde is standing behind the reception desk at the inn when four beautiful women walk in.

Nate lays down two queens, a jack and the eight of spades.

Shit! I mean, that’s what one of the women says as she’s walking in. One of the queens stubs her toe on an umbrella stand and says, “Shit.” So this group is a women’s volleyball team from out of town, and they’re all exquisitely beautiful. And one of them is, uh . . . One of them had sexual reassignment surgery and is named Jack now. And one of the girls is nicknamed Crazy Eight because she’s a little crazy, I guess.

Nate picks up the deck and looks through the cards.

I don’t understand where they . . . Whatever. Moving along, the volleyball team walks in and asks Clyde for two rooms.

Nate lays down the nine of hearts.

Actually, they ask for nine rooms. So they can have extra space for their volleyball equipment. And then Clyde tells them the rooms will cost them six . . .

Nate lays down three kings.

A king’s ransom. Clyde says it will cost them “a king’s ransom” to stay at the inn, because he’s a bit of a joker, remember? And then Clyde tells them he’s kidding and that the actual price is six hundred and sixty-six dollars.

Nate sorts through his deck for a minute, pulls out three sixes, and lays them down.

There, okay? Clyde tells the volleyball team it’ll be six hundred and sixty-six dollars for the rooms and they say, “I hope there aren’t any demonic spirits haunting the inn.” And Clyde says, “Not unless you count my mother-in-law,” who I guess is staying there too. Ha ha, okay?

Moving on. The volleyball team tells Clyde the Innkeeper that they’ve had a long journey and would like to know where they can get a nice meal. And Clyde tells them that they need look no further, because the Four Aces happens to have its own restaurant called the . . .

Nate lays down a card depicting various poker hands.

Poker Hands? I thought I took that one . . . Yes, the restaurant is called Poker Hands. Because there is this local legend where a man with pokers for hands — like, hot pokers you’d stoke a fire with — apparently used to run around the town killing people with his crazy poker hands. Whatever. So before the volleyball team goes to the restaurant, Clyde the Innkeeper takes their bags up to their nine rooms, and they leave him a two-dollar tip . . .

Nate lays down a king.

Really? Uh, so maybe the volleyball team gives Clyde two bucks for a tip and then Clyde says, “This tip is certainly a king’s ransom.” Like he’s bringing back his joke from earlier. Or, wait — before the whole tip thing, Clyde tells the volleyball team that he hopes they enjoy the king-size mattresses in their rooms. There. And so then the team wants to go back down and have their dinner at Poker Hands, but Clyde tells them the restaurant doesn’t open until . . .

Nate lays down a joker.

Uh . . . So Clyde says some unusual time for a restaurant to be opening — like three in the morning or something. But then he says he’s kidding, because remember he’s a joker. I can’t do this anymore.

Nate lays down the deck’s remaining cards and spreads them out on the table.

So what happens next is that all these people start walking into the Four Aces looking for rooms, and they all have nicknames involving numbers or royal titles, and that’s the end. So there you go; you can all get back to your Jason Mraz covers now. Voila! Or, the magician one —abracadabra. Peace out.

Nate exits the café to the sound of a barista steaming milk, leaving his cards on the table.

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