Post 72 / Hour 74: Lumberjacks and Roosters
By Angela Peralta
[This story was submitted for our third flash humor writing competition about road trips.]
“How should I know?” Stacey answers shortly. We’ve been driving for hours in this pitch-black forest, and we’re starving and tired. On this road trip from Seattle to Portland, we’d stupidly allotted only a single day to make our way through the whole of Olympic National Park. And it had been fantastic! We’d soaked in sulfurous hot springs and gazed at stunning glacier views and trekked through the rain forest, searching unsuccessfully for the opportunity to thoroughly gross each other out by sighting a banana slug. But since the sunset we had been ready for the exit, and it was a maddeningly long way on the only road out of the park.
Bright lights ahead turn out to be a roadhouse, the parking lot surprisingly full. A neon light blinks “Restaurant”. On the one hand, this was exactly the kind of place our parents would have told two girls driving alone to avoid. On the other, restaurants have food, and we wanted some of that. We stop.
A young woman greets us at the door with menus and shows us to a table in the front. “Someone will be right with you,” she says. The room is packed with stocky, muscular men – and a few women – clutching beers and singing along to the jukebox, which is blasting something that sounds like early 80s honky-tonk. “That’s a lot of plaid,” Stacey breathes. “Lumberjacks!” says a voice behind us. It’s the Hostess, now holding a notepad. Apparently the “someone” would be “her”. “They all work nearby.”
We order beers and cheeseburgers and she tears off the scrap. “I’ll just drop this at the bar and then put your order in the kitchen, ok?” We nod and watch her walk straight to the bar, and around it, and start pouring the drafts.
“I guess she’s the Bartender too. I’m going to wash my hands.”
Stacey barely hears me, as she is closely examining the handpainted rooster salt and pepper shakers on our table. For some fascinating reason, the entire room is decorated with roosters. Tablecloths, napkins, pictures on the walls. Porcelain roosters on the hostess stand, a ceramic rooster cookie jar on the bar.
Instead of doors the bathroom stalls are festooned with sunny golden drapes littered with smiling poultry in cowboy hats. A lady is swaying in front of the mirror as she struggles to refasten the biggest, shiniest belt buckle I’ve ever seen, even in Texas.
“Like our theme here?” she asks, beaming at me.
“Rooster!” she shouts with delight. She doesn’t say “rooster”.
I return to the table to find Stacey gazing at our Waitress, who has just tied on an apron and relit the grill. “I guess the good news for her is that she never has to split the tip,” she says. The jukebox is now cranked up for an apparent favorite, and 30 drunk lumberjacks loudly join in the chorus. Two of them stagger toward us and slap the table.
“Don’t be scared, College Girls, we’re just havin’ a good time!” they bellow.
“We’re not scared,” we lie, only a little.
“Don’t pester the College Girls while they’re eating,” orders our Hostess/Waitress/Bartender/Cook, as she delivers what turns out to be the absolute best cheeseburger I’ve eaten in my life so far. (I still think about them sometimes.)
“How do they know we’re College Girls?” I whisper to Stacey. “Maybe we dropped out after one semester.”
“What do you think they’d call you if they knew you were starting law school in a month?” she retorts. “I think you should take College Girl.”
All this happy singing plaid waves us goodbye as we leave the roadhouse, and we make it out of Olympic National Park by midnight. We find our hotel just outside the park boundaries, plain and safe and…ordinary. Alas. Not a scrap of French Country in sight.
Angela Peralta has survived multiple rounds of Dave’s online humor writing class. She blogs at angelaperalta.wordpress.com.]
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