(An excerpt from Feeding the Christians)
The plan was to drive my U-Haul as far as Nashville and stay the night at Kirk’s. During my former restaurant life in Ft. Sackville, Kirk and I were lovers for five years. I’d met him the year before my family opened the new, even larger Daniels’ Family Buffet on Highway 41 –the third incarnation in my family’s restaurant legacy.
The new Daniels’, from its inception, belonged to Dad; Grandpa Collin was dead. The former restaurants on Fairground Avenue stood empty. Not long after I met Kirk I showed him the abandoned building once home to Daniels’ Diner. I explained it was the restaurant I kept warehoused in my earliest childhood memories. And, how it was a bustling business often requiring my grandfather lock the front door during the lunch rush and only allow customers to enter as others left.
Together, Kirk and I, we peered through its dusty front window using our hands to clear the glass as if frosted by a cold winter’s day. He could not imagine it. But I, ignoring its sagging pressed tin ceiling and the trash left behind by midnight vandals, could see Grandma Dixie sitting next to the cash register reading her romance novel. At the lunch counter ghosts of customers past watched waitresses in white starched uniforms as they carried daily plate specials on green band Buffalo china. And I could hear the jukebox positioned near the basement door. Before Kirk I had never shared my life with anyone. That Indian summer day, that moment standing there letting him peer into my world was analogous to his peering into my heart. I knew then I had to protect us.