Saturday, August 25, 2012

Eating once again at a Cracker Barrel: My soul is prepared, how’s yours?


                   <music fitting to this entry. Open second window and hear it                                   as you read.>

      Eating once again at a Cracker Barrel: My soul is prepared, how’s yours?

                                      By Mark William Darus

          Walking into this restaurant, not the same location as the killings I wrote about in my April 4 2012 entry. Odd sense coursing through veins, bizarre tingling of wonderment as Cracker Barrel restaurants share the same layout, architecture through out the USA.

           Gazing about as my party and I are walked to a table accommodating us, sitting. My eyes taking in old mid to late 1800’s photographs of sour, stern faces in black and white, signs of Sinclair gas with its dinosaur prominent, tree saws amongst wasted banjos and trashed brass instruments. Fire heaving open flame in the big center hearth, enhancing old world home sensations most of us never knew except for memories of Little House on the Prairie or the Waltons television shows. Adding Smokey flavor to everything brought to table, playing the triangle peg game some challenge, servers refill coffee cups, refilling water glasses, bringing more bisquits or cornbread, adding jellies at request.

           Prices have risen since my last visit. Go figure. There must be at least 15 lawsuits arisen from the Brooklyn Ohio incident. This is the sad and desperate hunger of humanity. Not grateful they were spared a raging soon-to-be ex-husbands stray bullet. Suing because their dinner was interrupted and they face irreparable mental damage with their irrational beliefs that no restaurant is safe.


          Looking about, watching those around the restaurant in close proximity, I wonder what might trigger a response most human in awareness, memory or feeling.

          Excusing myself from the table, heading for the mens room, I quip most aloud: “I hope no one is celebrating a birthday here tonight!” Yeah, I am a cold bastard. Someone has to gauge reaction in relation to those so far self absorbed they are oblivious to their surroundings.

         My words and its voice that carries, as subtle as a chainsaw performing an abortion, chime out.

           The snaps of a few heads, to me keenly audible like that of a Bruce Lee movie where every action gives a ‘whooshing’ sound, aim alarmed eyes squarely at me. These are those people most aware of their sense of the here-and-now. Statistics would show that at least half the people in Ohio visiting this restaurant chain wish to see a copycat shooting with the same glee as would those creating a gawkers block on a freeway, seeing a body halfway leaving the windshield with blood spattered head, lifeless, resting on the hood.

           Returning to table, my Uncle Herschels breakfast waiting. Ham, hash brown casserole, biscuits and gravy and grits with requested butter and coffee cream. Mixing the scrambled eggs with pieces of ham and hash brown casserole, relishing taste dancing about my tongue. Swallowing fondly, taking into me, yet still thinking in areas most ignored by most.

            Everyone at my table getting what they ordered and liking it. Fondly, slowly, taking forks of their culinary cravings, smiling, talking, sharing.

         While eating, my mind working thru scenarios of darker mental landscapes. Placing butter into the center of my grits and covering it to have it melt. Moments soon after, adding three sugar packets to it, a minute or so later adding coffee cream over it. To me, grit’s the way I like is both a comfort food as well as a sweet, fulfilling desert.

         Looking at the party of four sharing this table with me, I begin to wonder, my mind doing what it does. What would happen: If the music of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton were overtaken by gunshots. If the comforting smells of a wood fire and food were defiled with the profound fumes of discharged gunpowder. Smiles 180’ing to those of pure fear and horror.

        What would my girlfriends mother do if shots rang out? Possessing fragile knees of the aged, slow response as muscles weakened over time. Would she duck under the table for safety? Could she even perform such a feat?

        My girlfriends son, going toward his senior year at college, would he duck and cover? Cover his grandmother or mom in self sacrifice?

        Little doubt in my mind on this: My girlfriend would throw herself toward her son and protect him. Giving her credit, she did stand over a dying woman a mere house away from the place we shared. Witnessing this: Watching blood leaving this woman, brightest of street lights encompassing as it turned a puffy December evenings tranquil bluish snowfall into a horrid, iron stench snow cone on the ground.

        Gunshot to the heart, my girlfriend, a nurse, taking in the last fading breath as the woman before her expires. This dying woman, victim of a store hold-up gone south as she ran and was shot in the back, just small months before gave birth to her first child.

        I was getting tires at the Firestone near the place I worked at the corner of Richmond and Wilson Mills road. Winter bonus hitting checking account, having enough to purchase the tires, lacking a cell phone then, blind to horrors his woman experienced.

         What would I do? I’d like to think I would throw myself toward the shooter. It’s not that I am suicidal so much as I believe it is the right thing to do.

              Knowing this and my beliefs.

              My soul is prepared.

              How’s yours?

Mark William Darus 0824-25-2012