I saw windmills in the distance obscured by thick morning fog, looking like ominous giants way out there watching me every step of the way. Dinosaurs on the move, born again and rising out of the Texas swamps.
But then I was still in the plains. This was West Texas, just outside of Amarillo. I had music playing that morning. Elvis Presley. He was crooning one of my favorite songs. Milky White Way.
I stopped at a cafe about 80 miles to the south. The place was nearly deserted except for the lady and gentleman who ran the place. I think they ran it anyway. I think they were a married couple too. I only assumed these things by the way they carried themselves around the shop, and the way they spoke to each other, not in any good or bad way but one that seemed like they’d been doing it for many years.
They asked where I was coming from, and where I was going. I’ve had so many conversations like this over the years, it’s crazy. I don’t mind it though.
I like meeting people from across the country. It makes me feel closer to it in a way that I guess few are able to experience as often. So I count myself lucky.
I’m coming from California, I told them. “I’m headed toward Shreveport.”
“Ah well,” the lady said. “That’s a long way from here. I think you’re gonna need some coffee.”
She smiled then winked at me. The man strode in from the back room to say hello. He rested his hands onto countertop and then took a long look out the window.
“Yes please,” I said to the lady.
She went into the back room to roast me a cup. I asked for a medium since I knew that I did indeed have a longer drive ahead of me. The truth was that I hoped to make it a little farther past Shreveport if I could. The car I was driving was actually a lease, one that needed to be returned in Florida because the back seats were still there. I needed to get back to Florida before the deadline, with enough time in between to get it cleaned and in good shape before I turned it in.
The sooner I arrived, the better; but I didn’t want to push myself to the point of exhaustion either. The last thing I needed to was to get all run down and suddenly become twice as vulnerable to Señor Corona.
The lady came back from the office with a medium cup of coffee. I thanked them both very much and wished them a nice rest of the week.
“You too,” said the man. “Be safe out there and enjoy Shreveport.”
I tipped my hat to him and went out toward the door as two girls walked in, saying hello to me and to the man and woman at the counter. The four of them repeated a different version of the conversation we’d just had. The girls walked over to the coffee table by the window and signed what looked like a visitor’s log, where they likely wrote down their information and where they were traveling from and their email address and all those details.
At the front door I noticed a sign I hadn’t noticed before, or rather about twelve different signs each pointing in different directions from a wooden plank. Each sign had a different town or city, some in the United States and a few others throughout the world, from Amarillo and Santa Fe to Rome, London and Cairo, each with the corresponding number of miles between the city and this coffee shop.
I smiled and walked out the door. I started the car and continued south by southwest, heading toward Shreveport.