Saturday, February 13, 2010

I should have had the young cop put the cuffs on me for the trip to my house. It would have given the staff and visitors and easy explanation for the patrol car. Since I couldn't leave the hospital without a ride, and since I hadn't told anyone about the heart attack, I arranged for a police car to pick me up at the entrance to the hospital. Fortunately I live in a small town so the ride from the hospital to my small rental house was no more than five minutes.

My personal vehicle sat in the drive. I had given my keys to a supervisor, when he visited me in the hospital. No doubt he had someone drive it to my house, not as a grand gesture of support, but to get it out of the station's small parking lot. I didn't care what his motivation, I had a car and that was important to me. Even though I had sworn an oath not to drive for five weeks, it was one oath I planned to ignore.

Hell even the ten year old car had power everything. It was almost impossible to find a car that didn't. With all that power assist,I could drive the damn thing from my hospital bed. I had planned to buy a brand new truck when I retired, but I no longer thought that I would have enough money for that kind of purchase.

I had become a napper in the hospital,so it was well into the afternoon,when I walked carefully to my old car. Mine was the easiest to find in any parking lot. One of the women I took to dinner now and then said the color and paint condition reminded her of stone washed jeans. The once royal blue paint had come off in sheets. The missing paint revealed the galvanized metal underneath.

I drove the car only a couple of miles so I felt as though I was adhering to the spirit of my oath, if not the letter of it. Sadie's cafe was run by a huge black woman. She had been all things in the early days of the cafe. By the time I discovered the place, she was down to supervisor and cashier. Oh yeah she was also the owner.

Sadie was busy making change when I entered. It took her a while to acknowledge me. "Mr Abba, I heard you was dead."

"Not today, Sadie," I replied.

"Lot of my people gonna be sorry to hear that,' she said it with a laugh. She might not be wrong though. I had put a lot of people in jail in my career of over 20 years. A high percentage of them had been black. I didn't think of it as racism but just an indication of the facts of life in Carthage. The cycle of poverty was never ending in the black community. Poverty breeds crime, and crime gives guys like me a job. So it was just the natural order of things.

"How about you Sadie, would you have missed me?"

"Sure and the girls here two." she said with a smile. Then she added, "Ain't that many good tippers in this area."

"Well you tell them to put that on my stone when I'm really gone." I smiled, then turned to the counter. I wouldn't dare sit in a booth alone. Sadie had her rules and I expected that they would apply to the dead, as well as the almost dead.

"Hey Mr. Abba, I heard you was dead," the waitress stated flatly.

"Wishful thinking, I expect." I smiled even though it was beginning to wear thin already.

"Well if'n you ain't dead what you want to eat."

"Got any Angle food cake?" I asked it smiling.

"No, but I got some devil's food chocolate cake back there," she replied with a smile.

"Now that was cold Jazz."

"I know so what do you want?"

"Bring me the special." I neither asked not looked on the menu. I knew the special was always meatloaf on Wednesday night. Sadie insisted that her meatloaf have only cheap ground beef. There were no fancy stuff or cheap filler. It was just greasy hamburger with onions and tomato sauce on top.

Sadie's meatloaf was crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. I was one of the few white people who knew her secret. I was sworn to secrecy before I could go into the kitchen to investigate an assault ten years previously. Yes it was a Wednesday night. When I went into her kitchen, I found three ten pound meat loaves draining on a rack by the french fry vats. Sadie cooked her meatloaf in the deep fat fryer. I never told a soul what I had seen. Her meatloaf was like the holy grail of meatloaf. She would have banned me from her place at least, but more likely she would have had someone cut off my balls. Sophie might look like a quiet old grandma, but she could be mean as hell, I'm told.

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