There were three men sitting together at a table in the corner. The restaurant was very small and they were talking loudly and there was something else, too. Do you know that faint blinking red warning light in the dark of the back of your brain that goes on around certain men? It’s so distant and low that it’s easy to ignore most of the time. And I was with Bear, anyway, so whatever.
We sat down and Bear asked me if I was having a good time almost immediately. We were in Lee, Massachusetts for a night and a day, before heading to Boston, where Bear had a quick conference waiting.
“Want to drive up with me and see the fall colors?” Bear had asked on Friday, the day before. The fall colors are a big deal for him, since he’s from California.
In the Berkshires, we spent the day hiking, amazed by the beauty of the forest. Bear got a sudden very low blood sugar and I saved his life with a pop tart I’d bought on a whim from a gas station convenience store even though I’m really trying to be healthier and not eat stuff with so many preservatives. So that’s a story about how sugar addiction saves lives.
We drove around and tried to include “the fall color” in most of our comments. “I’m seeing a lot of fall color in this area.” “Yeah, the fall color is especially colorful here in the valley.” We weren’t even slightly dissuaded by the persistent rain and dull gray sky.
By the time we sat down for dinner in the little restaurant, there were puddles pockmarking the street and we were starving.
“Best barbeque I’ve ever had,” one of the men was saying insistently. “There was a whole pig just hanging on the wall. And a boar. Everything was just out where you could see it. They don’t mess around. Not like here. You can’t get good barbeque anywhere around here.”
He had a voice that makes you listen, strung-tight and authoritative. I glanced over. He was probably in his fifties, longish white-gray hair springing from under a baseball cap, wiry and guarded. It wasn’t anything exactly about the way he looked, though. He was radiating that faint red warning.