Last Stop Part Three
The foursome met for dinner promptly at six o’clock. David and Carrie claimed one side of the table and Granny Muriel and strange and quiet William on the other. William kept his head down as they gathered, staring intently at the empty plate as if willing food to appear upon it. When David and Carrie had entered the room, the multi-course meal was already laid out across the expansive table. The four remaining empty chairs were all tucked tightly under the table, and upon noticing them, David remembered the other guest, Mr. Wright who was apparently late or absent.
“No Mr. Wright?” David asked in Muriel’s direction. She glanced up from the table.
“Mr. Wright prefers t’be alone and takes his meals in his room after we’ve eaten. He was very ad’mant ‘bout it.”
“Oh,” was all David could reply with, then thought and added, “well, that’s what I hear about writers, or anyone creative really, ‘don’t mess with the vibe you know, stay in the groove’.
Muriel looked at him a moment, possibly perplexed by his language, then smiled.
“Yes,” was all she offered. Carrie reached for a towel-covered bowl that she assumed was rolls. Muriel reached across the table and tapped-not really a smack- her hand.
“we got to say grace first, dear.”
Carrie stared at her blankly, then looked to David, then back to Muriel.
“Of course,” she said quietly. William gave out a sort of half-snort, half-chuckle; the first sign of any emotion the man had.
“Yes, let’s say grace so we can eat. I’m starving,” David said, both because it was true and to also corral the tension at the table. He and Carrie weren’t very religious and so never gave much thought to thanking the Lord for their meals.
“Lord, thank you for this food we’re ‘bout t’eat and for the comp’ny of our guests. You are the giver, we’re the takers. Amen. Alright honey, go ahead,” Muriel said to Carrie.
“Thank you,” she replied and again reached for the rolls. David attacked the various bowls and had a full plate even before he had ransacked them all. In the center of the spread was a mound of barbeque stacked upon a platter. He took several pieces of the meat.
“Pass me those beans please, William,” Muriel said to the man-child who held onto the bowl and shook his head.
“William,” she again said. A slight curl rose in his lip, not quite a smile but a mischievous prelude to one. Again he shook his head. David and Carrie just watched quietly.
“William, you hand over them beans or I’ll brain you good, you hear?”
That was all it took. William frowned and handed them to his mother who let out a small, triumphant ‘hmmph’ sound.
“Dear Lord. This is the best barbeque I’ve ever had,” David said, smacking his lips from the gooey sauce.
“Thank you hon ,” Muriel started, “ if nothing else, we’re pretty well known ‘round here for it.”
The idea that there was anyone ‘round here’ as Muriel put it amused David, who licked his fingers before continuing. Carrie gave his thigh a slap as to say ‘don’t be a pig, use a napkin’.
“What kind of meat exactly is this? It has an unusual after taste,” he said, then thought and added, “a good one I mean.”
“I know, and it’s a bit chewy too, ain’t it?” Muriel said, not seeming offended in the least bit, but merely stating a fact.
“Yeah, it is. But I can’t get enough of it,” David said merrily, tore another piece off and popped it in his mouth. Muriel chuckled with delight.
“Its lamb dear, slaughtered lambs,” she said. While this remark was odd and even a bit disturbing, it did nothing to slow David’s pace.
“Try some,” Muriel said to Carrie. She looked at the meat, then raised her hand, passing on it. David looked to her, his lips slathered with sauce.
“Really hon, it’s unbelievable.”
“No. Thanks, really,” she said and continued to merely pick at the sides on her plate.
David shrugged, Muriel shrugged, William did nothing but clean his plate. No one had noticed how fast he had consumed his dinner. He looked to his mother, not lifting his head but only raising his eyes.
“Nice job son, you may be excused,” Muriel told him. William pushed his chair back and rose up, seeming to tower over the table and the three remaining diners.
“Tell our guests goodnight,” Muriel said. William seemed to be struggling with his mouth until finally a quick and muffled ‘goodnight’ erupted from it. He pushed the chair back in and expediently left the room.
The remainder of the dinner continued with David gorging himself even though his wife appeared to be disgusted by it. She picked her way through her dinner. David, between mouthfuls of food, told Muriel the story of how he and Carrie met, at a bookstore as he was trying to find information on the procedures for receiving a substantial inheritance. His aunt, who had raised him awhile and had no children of her own, had died and left no small fortune to him. Sure the lawyers would explain it all but he was hoping to get answers that were in a language he could more easily understand. As it turned out, it was very straight forward without any hassles. He was also looking for a good book on investing said inheritance and settled on ‘Investing for Dummies’.
Carrie had bumped into him as she was perusing the shelves of books. Simply an accident and yet one that fate seemed to bring them together. They ran into one another yet again in the bookstore’s in-house café. They talked, sat down, talked more, and from there the relationship bloomed and flourished. Several months later they were married, Vegas-style and now here they were at this unusual and remote bed and breakfast.
They wrapped up the night finishing the story of David and Carrie and were in the process of turning in when David glanced down at the decimated table. A thought popped into his head, surprisingly one that hadn’t occurred through the entire dinner until now.
“By the way,” he said to Muriel, “Carrie and I walked around the house earlier and noticed that there doesn’t seem to be a kitchen. Where did you make that wonderful dinner?”
“Well, the ‘riginal one was on this floor but it was too small for our barbeque operation. We sell it to some of the local markets you know. Anyhow, we put in a big one downstairs to ‘commodate.”
“We found the stairs, but didn’t go down. That must be a hassle for dinner though. Bringing it all up here.”
“I ‘spose you didn’t notice the dummy waiter,” Muriel said, “right outside the doorway in the hall.”
“No, I guess not. Convenient,” David said satisfied, then added, “you must buy the meat at the market though. We didn’t see any animal outside anywhere.”
“No, we raise our own. They’re around. We slaughter’em out in the barn.”
“Oh,” David said, caught off-guard by the direct statement. He glanced to his wife who looked like she was going to be sick, “nothing but the freshest huh?”
“Yes,” Muriel said, “goodnight now, I’m retiring after I clean up.”
David looked at the table, then back to Muriel.
“Can we offer you any help?” He again glanced to Carrie who gave him an ‘are you out of your mind?’ look.
“Thanks, but you’re our guests, and ‘sides, I been doing this a long time. We got a dishwasher downstairs too.”
“What’s his name?” David said attempting to make a joke that neither woman laughed at. He cleared his throat. “Okay then, goodnight. And thank you again for the meal.”
“You’re welcome dear. Goodnight now. Sleep tight; don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Muriel smiled a big grin. David noticed there was a piece of chewy barbeque stuck between her teeth.