Gone Lawn
a journal of word-things
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Gone Lawn 55
strawberry moon, 2024

Featured artwork, Lost for Words, by Andrea Damic

new works

Mercedes Lawry

The Fusspot Hotelier

The Fusspot Hotelier was endlessly considering napkin folds. He insisted his staff master numerous styles – the pocket, the rose, the leaf and so on until they were folding in their sleep while silently screaming. The Fusspot Hotelier was well versed in the history of the hospitality industry and recounted notable incidents to his staff on numerous occasions as if, by osmosis, they might return to those days of pomp and grandeur. He wafted through the hotel like a renegade fog, surprising maids and sous chefs and security who were consequently chided for a wrinkle or a grease stain or an employee door left ajar. He knew his standards were alpine, but with time and effort, he believed every member of the hotel’s labor force could rise to the summit, and those who failed or chose to try to skate by with minimal effort were subject to forced resignations, blanket firings or tearful humiliations. He refused to compromise.

The Fusspot Hotelier had eyebrows of singular distinction. He attended to them on a daily basis and they served to punctuate his orders and opinions. It was rumored that he practiced in front of a mirror but no actual evidence ever emerged. The Fusspot Hotelier could not abide a limp lily or a browning leaf within the extravagant lobby arrangements he felt were de rigeur. Hence, the Floral Attendant was forever on their toes, snipping here, clipping there and always replacing, discreetly of course, in the late hours when few guests were about and those who were frequently wafted by in an alcoholic haze.

The Fusspot Hotelier’s obeisance to hotel life was absolute. He was quite aware that he himself was succumbing to wrinkles, creases and gravity’s cruel demands but he was damned if the hotel would manifest any unfortunate evidence of time passing. No one, save the artist who had inked his chest in days gone by with the phrase, Standards! At all cost! was aware that he bore a tattoo. No one would have believed it until the unfortunate day when he suffered a heart attack in the ballroom and a guest speaker at the cardiologists’ conference being held at the hotel stepped in to assist, revealing the motto, now too sagging on his rather vulnerable-looking chest.

Mercedes Lawry has published short fiction in several journals including Gravel, Cleaver, Garbanzo and Blotterature, and was a semi-finalist in The Best Small Fictions 2016. She has published poetry in journals such as Poetry, Nimrod & Another Chicago Magazine and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize several times. She has published three poetry chapbooks as well as stories and poems for children. Her collection, Vestiges, was published in 2022. Her collection, Small Measures will be published in 2024.