"Well, I'll Be John Brown"

Real stories about folks who have blessed my life with the joy and fulfillment of laughter. Long may they live.

Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

A Southern Boy - Born In Alabama, Reared In Georgia, and Matriculated, Married & Initiated Into Manhood In Tennessee.

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Autumn Belle - Chapter 12"

It had been a long day.

Beau was dog-tired from a day behind the grill at the Silver Skillet. It was one of those days in the food service industry that makes even those who love it long for a way out. Tons of orders, impossible-to-please patrons, utensils falling on the floor, the crashing sound of plates and dishes breaking, phone ringing off the hook, and everyone behind the counter screaming, rushing around, and in general lunch-rush tizzy.

To top it off, George Decker had been quiet as a church mouse all day, and seemed to be avoiding him. Not a word about the long, closed-door session with Autumn Hamilton the day before. When Beau asked him how it had gone, Mr. Decker just shrugged his shoulders and said, "How well could an afternoon with a reporter go?"

Beau Jackson smelled a rat, and it wasn't on the kitchen floor under his grill.

He had never given a woman flowers before - other than his mother. He had never gone so out-of-his-way to impress a female with his cooking. And, he had never asked of others the concessions and favors he had in trying to meet Autumn the night of her debutante ball. And yet, not a word from her. Then, she shows up at his place of employment twice in one day. The first time she drives off like a wild woman, and the second she bull-headedly resists him when he was just trying to do her a favor so she wouldn't have to stand in the lunch line.

He was tired, hot, aggravated, and talking to himself. "Well, if SHE thinks that I am going to crawl, that snotty little brat has another thing coming, " he murmured. As he cleaned the grill and prepared to leave for the day, he looked up at the large clock on the kitchen wall. It was just after 4:00 PM.

When Beau had finished his last round of cleaning, he strolled by George Decker's office and said that he was going to take a shower before heading out. In the early days of his ownership, Mr. Decker had renovated the Silver Skillet and had included the addition of a small efficiency "apartment" - complete with a full bath and shower. He sometimes spent the night there when the crush of business kept him late or required him to come in at an ungodly early hour. Beau sometimes used the shower before climbing on his Harley for the trip home. It always felt good to be clean and have one's body and clothes free of the smells that cooking over a hot grill all day would bring.

"Sounds like a plan," Mr. Decker replied.

The hot shower felt good to his tired body. He could not wait to get on that motorcycle and feel the breeze blowing hard against him. He slipped on a fresh t-shirt and jeans, tugged at his boots until they slid snugly against his aching feet, and grabbed his backpack and helmet. "See ya' tomorrow, boss," he said as he walked toward the back door of the restaurant. "Take it easy," Mr. Decker said, looking up from his money-counting long enough to wink at Beau, "good job today...See you in the morning." Beau locked the back door of the restaurant behind him, slid on his sunglasses and turned toward his motorcycle.

"Say mister, you know where a girl can bum a motorcycle ride?," a female voice asked. Beau looked up to see Autumn Belle sitting astride his giant Harley-Davidson. She was facing the back wheel of the bike, wearing a dark blue tank top, jeans, boots, and holding a motorcycle helmet in her hands.

Beau stopped dead in his tracks. "What the...?," he said. "Do you mean, sir, what am I doing sitting here on this big old bike, asking you for a ride?," she playfully asked. "Something like that," he replied, unable to hide the monstrous smile on his face. "Yesterday you couldn't stand me...Now, today you are sitting here on my motorcycle wanting to ride with me...I guess I am wondering why...What has changed?" he asked.

"Well," she continued, "a little bird told me that you were much better at driving a motorcycle than you are behind a grill...As an investigative journalist I just thought it might be good to find out if that little birdie was right." Grinning, she stood up, turned around toward the front of the bike, strapped on her helmet, and said, "Are you coming?"

Beau just shook his head.

He stuck the key in the ignition, put on his helmet, mounted the seat in front of Autumn, and cranked the motorcycle's mighty engine. As he revved it several times and backed out of the parking space, Autumn slid her arms around his rock-hard waist. She scooted up close to him and snuggled in for the ride. Beau deposited the kick-stand, put the bike in gear, and roared past the windows of the Silver Skillet toward the street.

As they waited for an opening in traffic, Autumn happened to glance toward the front door of the restaurant. There stood George Decker, beaming like an expectant father in a delivery room. He gave Autumn the "thumbs-up," which she quickly returned. Just then, above the roar of the engine, Beau loudly declared, "Hang on, Missy!" With that, he turned right on Fourteenth Street, punched the Harley into second gear, and headed toward the I-75/I-85 North on-ramp.

Autumn Bell took a deep breath and held on tight - thinking that she was in the for the ride of her life.

Captain Beauregard Jackson KNEW that he was already in the middle of his.