"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Stumpy's Spur--Breakfast advice at the Fat Lion--II

Chapter 8
Greg had usually been able to take the criticism  and barbs of the crowd in the Fat Lion, but that one made him pause.
The place had been sort of a safe haven, and his journalist's sense of humor gave him a reality check. Besides, he'd learned to hate the plastic food of fast food joints, and the Fat Lion was anything but fast, and definitely not plastic.
"Told you," Stumpy said, as Myrt came over to refill their coffee cups, balancing his breakfast order in one hand and the coffee pot in the other.
The Fat Lion had cheap paneling on the walls. One broken window was boarded up with construction grade  plywood. High school kids had painted graffiti on it till it was covered with a spastic motif that Beau left as a sign of his school spirit--or laziness, Greg wasn't sure.
Oscillating fans covered with West Texas dusty buzzed away even in November. Beau and Myrt had tried to remodel with rough-cut wood on the walls, decorated with lariats, old iron relics and a few dusty hanging green plants. But the siding merely serve as cracks for  cockroaches to hide in.
Greg watch one move slowing down the wall toward the next table where some biscuit crumbs waited. Jeanne wouldn't eat here, but Greg loved it.
An assortment of different-shaped formica topped tables with dingy faded red tops, and chairs with vinyl covering and torn padded add to the "decor. " A cigarette machine in the back corner sat under an air conditioner poked theory the wall.
Stumpy quietly sipped his coffee, and Greg began eating, picking up one of the yellowish grease-stained menus. While Beau wasn't much of a cook, at least he had a sense of humor, and comments on the menu were always worth reading.

"The Fat Lion--the 'mane' place to go--You'll roar about your food--a lion-sized share of good eatin'"
"Tell us how you want your steak, but we only fix it rarin' to go."
"The 'paws' that refreshes--Sink your fangs into Bad Beau's bar-b-cue. Sides of big, red sweet onions--If she'll kiss you after you eat one of these, she either loves you or her nose is stopped up."
"Chicken fried steaks, smothered in homemade gravy--If they don't fill you up, you need an operation or a cork--We'll supply the cork, just 49 cents each."
"Cold Lone Star Beer--Long neck, short neck, just don't neck in here."
"Homemade lemonade--It'll make more than your mouth pucker--for the sour dispositions in town." "Try the Palo Duro--a malt the size of Texas--so thick you need a knife, so tall, Big Tex looks up to it."
"If your food's good, tell your friends. If you've got any complaints--shut your mouth."

When Myrt came over to get his plate as he finished, she lowered her voice and bent over, while pouring another cup of coffee.
"Greg, you're a good customer and a friend. You don't ask for advice, but I'm gonna give it. We been hearing a lot of, well, shit, and it's not good. I don't understand all this prison stuff, but don't get hurt. It's not worth it. This town's not worth it."
"Myrt, "Greg said, smiling. "Thanks, but I know what I'm doing."
"Do you Greg? Be sure. You can get hurt in more than one way. " In the back, Beau yelled "Order Up!" and she turned toward the kitchen.
He watched her leave, thinking about what an unlikely couple they were. Tall skinny Myrt, and short, fat Beau. Some called them "Mutt and Jeff" behind their backs, but Greg liked them. They seemed to be some of the few people in town who didn't seem to have any pretensions of importance. 
"Unlikely couple," he said aloud, thinking of the way they just accepted people regardless of faults.
"Yep, they are," Stumpy said, "And their advice is as good as their menu comments.  You ought to listen to them."



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