What I noticed when we stopped in this one-horse town known for the steakhouse was that not too many people get out at five for supper. Last time we were here together, it was packed at 6:30. Still, we waited just as long for our steaks. It is dark in there and I was chilled, even with my warm grey Carnegie Mellon jacket on–odd coming from 90 degree heat, and yet normal for me. Air conditioning always chills me.
The cook, a rather large woman, spent much of her time sitting on a high stool at the bar counter. Our waitress checked on us frequently to fill our ice-tea; I think she sensed my partner’s impatience. Booths with red plastic seats lined the walls that were hung with the posters from years of Cheyenne Frontier Days. Larger tables filled the room’s center. Above the bar hung the many mounts of someone’s hunts: bobcat, deer, elk, the biggest fish I’ve ever seen in a steakhouse, and a rattlesnake skin. The two flat screens seemed out of place-one filled with images of 9-11 and the other with a football game or maybe it was baseball. Some locals, judging by their ease with the bartender, sat at the “sports” end of the bar. A sign taped to a pole read, “no credit cards or checks.”
Looking up, the ceiling was covered with fancy tin tiles, like maybe this was a carriage house at one time in its history. I sat in the booth opposite him. He was leaning against the wall, legs outstretched along the bench seat. I pictured fancy carriages being driven in one end, unloading people dusty from long drives or in their “going to town” finery, dropping the dust robes as they exited with the doorman’s help. Did this town have an opera? A fancy eatery in a hotel?
Soon enough, we were back in the pick-up, the windshield eating more bugs than we could see through. Back at the farm we unloaded and checked the stock, settling in for the late evening news.