Somewhere in Indiana
I pull off the highway; onto an old country road with three modern hotels. There’s a Cracker Barrel too.
The only advertising displayed were three large signs; one posted on the pole in front of each establishment – $59, $49 and $39. There may have only been ten dollar gaps in the price; but the quality was orders of magnitude more varied.
I choose the cheapest room; pay for it; and unpack. There’s a spider in one of the beds and a piss stain on the other. I choose the spider-bed and get in the shower.
Time to eat. I light a cigarette and wander across the old country highway to the Cracker Barrel. I’ve been in one of these before; somewhere along the East Coast as a child – driving to Florida with my parents. In case you’re unfamiliar with this establishment; you enter into a grandiose candy store; filled with branded merchandise and American pride paraphernalia; eventually making your way into the Cracker Barrel restaurant.
A cute yet slightly heavyset waitress seats me. There’s those eyes again.
She brings me a menu and I order a beer. She laughs.
“Honey, you ever been to Cracker Barrel before?”
“No.” I said
“This is a family restaurant; we don’t serve beer here. Where you from, cutie?”
She proceeds to tell me her whole life story. She’s from Georgia; used to be a long-haul truck driver; moved to Indiana to start over.
“Well there’s a bar up the road, they open at ten.”
“I’d rather a liquor store. What’s the drinking age in Indiana?” I asked her, knowing full-well that I was under-age.
“Twenty-one, how old are you?” she asked.
“Twenty.” I said
“You have a hotel for the night?” she asked suggestively.
“Yeah… the dive across the street.”
“I’m off at ten; I’ll buy you some beer. What’s your room number?”