It is another hot and humid day and, according to the digital time message on the dashboard of my rental car, lunch time: 12: 30 am. (My stomach’s alarm clock already went off much earlier.) I am thirsty too. But the water in my PET bottle has become too hot to shower. Left alone to drink. In a rural area “Brittani’s Restaurant” looms up unexpectedly and it is not a mirage. “Carry out” seems a great idea: A picnic in blues country, between the cotton fields!
When I walk into the restaurant, one table is occupied by four robust, local laborers, apparently packing away a great portion of food. They are in a bright conversation with furious arm gestures and full mouths and they are certainly not in agreement. The loud voices at the table discontinue abruptly. An older man -wearing a baseball cap, a blue overall and on multi colored sneakers- stops sweeping the floor. His broom immovable. I walk up to the showcase in which, spread over two scales, food is displayed: On the right I assume fish (catfish?) and in the left scale two roasted half chicken. The bespectacled lady -undoubtedly Brittani herself- is firmly of stature, has dark curls, wears a white apron and is in her early thirties. Her hands firmly in her side she says: “Can I help you?”
Next to me appears, as if by magic, apparently from underneath the other table, a lovely girl of at most three years of age. Two red knotted tails and a Rasta hairstyle. A dress with lots of buttons and embroidery, a beautiful little princess. She reaches up to my left hip and stares at me -as brought to a stop by a fairy- with large, dark eyes, her mouth slightly opened. I wink an eye at her, but her pretty face remains motionless.
My choice decides upon the roasted chicken, which look very appetizing: “I should like to have those chicken, ma’am,” while pointing at them. “You want them both?” asks Brittani, “or just one? And: “One is four dollar.” “I should like to have them both, please!” She nods at me, picks up the chicken from the scale and asks: “Anything to drink?” “A Sprite, please!” She nicely finishes off my order, when I add: “I’d like to carry out, ma’am”. “That ’ll be eight dollar for the chicken and one for the sprite.” I’ll hand her a ten dollar bill and she gives me one in return.
All the while the little girl next to me looks at me as in trance. I squat down and fumble the dollar note in her little hand. She just about co-operates to keep it, looks at me -we are equally at eye level with each other- for just a while and then rushes off on her slippers -while holding the bank note as a trophy above her head- to her mother behind the counter. I walk with my packed lunch in the direction of the way out.
The man with the broom says, full of pride: “That’s my granddaughter!” The men at the table re-attack their lunch and even outside I hear their loud voices. They still do not agree with each other.
“A pick nick in blues land, between the cotton fields!”