"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.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

"Autumn Belle - Chapter 7"

Autumn had no idea the Silver Skillet did such a great lunch business. When she arrived shortly after noon, every booth was full and there was a line out the door and into the parking lot. Being a young lady of privilege, Autumn Belle Hamilton had never waited in line for anything - ever! She was not about to start now - and especially not to get close to a guy she really didn't even know or like. She kept looking toward the front of the line to see if she could spot anyone she knew. "Maybe I can get up there and get a seat without having to wait," she thought. Her spike heel shoes were absolutely killing her tanned, well-manicured, little feet. She kept swaying back and forth, lifting one foot off the pavement, then another.

After about ten minutes of this, Autumn was more than ready to go back to her car. Suddenly, she heard a shrill, high-pitched whistle coming from the back side of the restaurant. "Pssst...Pssst!" She dared not look. No telling who this was. She did not like male cat-calls. They were trashy gestures designed to get a female's attention . "The nerve!," she thought, as the whistles persisted. Finally, she glanced out of the corner of her eye and saw Beau - standing at the back door of the restaurant. He waved at her to come over. Autumn snapped her head back toward the front of the line. She was not about to respond. Nor was she about to go anywhere near the back door of a tacky, greasy-spoon, restaurant. A whole line full of Atlanta business people was watching. Her social standing would be ruined.

Just then she felt a powerful hand wrap around her tiny arm and pull her out of the line. "Missy, how in this world am I ever gonna' get you past yourself?," Beau asked as he pulled Autumn out of the line and quickly toward the back door of the restaurant. "Just WHAT do you think you're doing?," she demanded. "I am JUST trying to take you inside another way...Unless, of course, you would rather stand out here all day in this line," Beau shot back.

"How did YOU know I was out here?," Autumn asked. "Never mind that," Beau said, "just quit being so stubborn and come with me." With her arm firmly locked in his powerful grasp, she leaned away from him in an exaggerated pose, She felt like a donkey being led into a stall. Coincidentally, the sound of her spike heels on the parking lot pavement resembled the clip-clop of a horse in a surrey harness.

Despite her continued protests, and the stares she was getting from the restaurant patrons, Beau kept pulling her toward the back door. She was just about to club him with her purse when George Decker appeared at the back door. "What are you doing out here?," he asked Beau. "I'm trying to get her to come in this way, " Beau answered. George Decker brushed Beau aside and took Autumn's arm. In a far more gentlemanly fashion, Mr. Decker gently patted Autumn on the forearm. "Come on, Miss Hamilton," he said, "I promise I won't bite."

Beau went back to work behind the grill. Autumn obediently followed Mr. Decker through the back door, and hurriedly through the maze of tables and counters filled with pots, pans, and cooking utensils. She had never seen the galley area of a restaurant before. The look on her face resembled that of a frightened child, almost as if she was being herded into a haunted house for the first time.

As they emerged through the giant double doors that separated the kitchen from the dining area, Autumn was abruptly shoved to the side by a waitress carrying an armful of plates and plastic glasses. "Coming through!," the waitress said. Autumn had never been treated with such utter disregard. "I'm sorry," George Decker said, "it gets a little crazy in here sometimes." Autumn gave the waitress a look that would pierce molten steel. Mr. Decker opened a large door that led away from the main dining room. "Come this way," he said. As the door shut behind them, Autumn was thoroughly surprised by what she saw.

She and Mr. Decker were standing in a small, private dining area. The pastel colored walls and the hospital-clean tiled floor was a stark contrast to the atmosphere of the main Silver Skillet dining room. There was only one booth. It sat next to a large picture window overlooking the rear of the parking lot. "Please, Miss Hamilton, take a seat here and one of our servers will be back in just a minute with something for you to drink...Do you like sweet tea?," Mr. Decker asked. Before she could answer, a waitress came in with a large glass of sweet tea and a plate stacked high with three hot, buttered croissants. They smelled heavenly.

As Autumn sat down, Mr. Decker turned to leave. "I'll be back in a sec," he said, "you just enjoy the tea and croissants and we'll have the rest of your food ready in a jiffy." "But, I haven't even ordered anything yet, "she said. George Decker winked and said, "The folks who are privileged enough to eat back here get the Silver Skillet gourmet dish of the day...I am sure you will like it." Both Mr. Decker and the waitress disappeared through the door.

As her emotions began to calm, Autumn Belle slipped off her heels and took a long, slow sip of the ice-cold tea. She pulled apart one of the steaming croissants and shoved half of it into her mouth. "Mmmmmmm," she purred. She had heard about the Silver Skillet's food. Rumor was that George Decker's little hole-in-the-wall eatery served some of the best food in Atlanta. This would be her chance to see if that reputation was true. She could write about the food, the secret dining room, AND George Decker.

"This might not turn out so bad after all," she whispered to herself.

The croissants were delicious. As she savored each bite, Autumn began to look around the small, hidden enclave. The walls, much like the front of the main dining area, were decorated with celebrity pictures - Roy Roger and Dale Evans, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and John & Jackie Kennedy to name a few. Suddenly it dawned on her what this room was. Autumn Belle was sitting in a private dining area for celebrity couples. This dining room's purpose was to give privacy to celebrities who didn't want to be bothered by autograph-seeking patrons. "Wow!," she said out loud. She had been allowed access to this special place without even asking. But why? She was all alone. She wasn't with a boyfriend or family member. No one knew she was even coming that day. Or, did they?

Autumn's curiosity was working overtime. "Something's up!," she thought, as she looked around the room shaking her head at the pictures, "and I am JUST the one to find out what it is!"