(Photo by Dan Felstead of Wood and Pixels Narratives)
MUDDY BOOTS CAFE
Claudette continued to pedal the ancient bicycle up the tiny incline into town. She had been on the bike since early morning just as the sun came up and it was now well passed the noon hour. She was tired and hot and she had burned off the last of her breakfast energy a few miles back. Hopefully the hole in the wall town she was now approaching would be modern enough to have a McDonalds or Burger King - maybe she would be able to enjoy a burger and rest in the cool air conditioning.
She had taken on the challenge of cycling across the great state of Indiana in an effort raise money for leukemia research. Claudette's beloved niece had been suffering for 16 months with the horrible disease, and the family was losing hope that a cure would come in time to save little Abigail. Abigail was only 9 years old and she had her whole life ahead of her. Even though Claudette was 21, she had organized this bicycle trek with her college buddies at Indiana University.
For months, students pounded the pavement finding research donations all over the state, and when the time came for Claudette to begin her journey, there was $45,000 riding on the trip. The route had been planned out so Claudette would be near a town or city each night in order to rest and recuperate. Although the tiny town of Nashville, Indiana was not on her list of nightly stops, she thought this would be the perfect resting spot before the afternoon ride began.
Coming into town, Claudette was impressed with the two-laned, tree-lined streets and the large homes located along the main drag of town.
"Something tells me I'm not going to find a McDonalds in this town," she mumbled under breath. So much for a quick meal and a cool afternoon rest.
As she came around the last curve leading into Nashville proper, a quaint brick building on the left-hand side of the road caught her attention.
MUDDY BOOTS CAFEThe front porch of the cafe was decorated with corn shocks to celebrate the upcoming fall season. There were large hydrangea bushes on each side of the porch, hanging full with balls of white flowers, already aging into a cream color that found make a wonderful dried flower arrangement. Cute iron ice cream parlor tables and chairs were lined under the front window, and a few patrons were enjoying lunch in the cool afternoon breeze.
But the thing that appealed most to Claudette was the ancient Coca-Cola machine near the front door. She had loved Coca-Cola since she was a toddler and just the thoughts of an icy cold drink, urged her to park her bike and third wheel trailer on the utility strip between the street and the sidewalk. Attaching her lock through the bike's front wheel and the loop of an old horsehead hitching post, she rummaged through the trailer to find her purse and then headed toward the Muddy Boots.
"That machine's more than decoration," said an elderly lady dining on the porch. "75 cents will buy you a nice cold bottle of Coceee-Coooola." Her accent sounded more downstate Georgia than Indiana.
"Really," replied Claudette? "I've been riding a long time, and Coke sounds good right now." She dropped three quarters into the slot, then opened the door and pulled out a bottle. Using the bottle opener on the side of the machine, she popped the top and took a long drink, draining almost half the bottle in one slow drink.
"Oh my! That hit the spot." She pulled her hand across her mouth in a very unlady-like fashion.
"If you're going into eat, the catfish is fresh from a local pond - Benji can fry it or grill it, whichever you like," said the woman.
"And Billy Jean's meatloaf is to die for," said the woman's male companion.
"Thank you, the both sound heavenly." Claudette took another swig of Coca-Cola and then pulled open the door to the cafe.
Inside the Muddy Boots Cafe, Claudette was transformed back in time to the early 1950s ...................
(To be continued ...........)