Star Struck

Saturday, three weeks before Christmas. And the place smelled like shit.

The shepherds were to thank for that. Not the three of them that would arrive in a few weeks talking of bright lights and visions and kings and things, but just generally. Shepherds were Rosie’s main clientele for her inn. Big, burly men accustomed to staying out in the wild and fending off wolves and thieves alike, yet men who would gladly pay a few shekels for some warmth for themselves every now and then.

And of course, Rosie noted, their sheep were always nearby. Droppings and all, and they always got brought in with the foot traffic.

She sighed. Yes, there was always cleaning to do. Especially now in the run-up to the solstice festivals. Lot of shepherds in the area with sheep to protect from sacrificial offerings. And the occasional centurion. Rosie liked the centurions. Their tunics had nice stitching.

She offered them a laundry service at a reasonable rate. It was a good side gig with the Romans, but the shepherds seldom used the service. What was the point of having woolly clothing cleaned and made nice and fluffy from the latest pebble washing technology, when it would be covered in shit again as soon as they returned to work with their animals? Besides, the woollen garments usually shrank when they were left to dry in the warm donkey-breath. It was a miracle there weren’t more complaints.

At least it was an honest living. Rosie was thrown into the hospitality business at a young age and it had been a baptism by fire. And by water. The thatching on her first inn caught fire during the opening celebrations. The roof opened and then the heavens opened. And the inn emptied. Odd, because it wasn't as if running outside was going to keep the guests any drier. At least they could keep warm from the smouldering embers.

Still. Live and learn. She watched as a stray sheep wandered inside and urinated against a table leg.

It will probably always be like this, she thought. People and sheep in, people out. Dirt in, dirt pushed around, trodden into the straw matting on the floor. Sheep and the rougher end of clientele pissing alike against table legs, and it was up to her, Rosie, thirty-two years old, to clean it all up.

She swept some dry sheep droppings to one side, and watched in lethargic submission as t...

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Paul Sterlini
Nov 29 2021

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Great fun. I need to read it again!

Rod Webb
Dec 13 2021

I loved this story because it's compulsive reading. I had to slow my reading down to be able to enjoy each, somewhat, madcap happening. It's certainly the Christmas with a difference.

Paul Sterlini (same name, different person)

Paul Sterlini
Dec 13 2021

Festively silly, with ancient and modern references and idiom, not to be taken too seriously but full of fun, reminiscent of a modern panto. I really enjoyed this.

Tony Spencer
Dec 12 2021

I just loved this. The way you have combined details from the past with phrasing from the present has really put a smile on my face. The comical overtones and subtle sarcasms appeal to me greatly. I loved your take on an ancient story.

Tracy Windross
Dec 7 2021

This story has set the scene and build up to Christmas perfectly! Easy to understand that the peace, the love and joy of the forthcoming event is a wonderful reason to celebrate!

Wanda Sterlini
Nov 29 2021