Rooster’s Roasters

“This is the place.”  Matt Brass stated, turning the car into the lot of a bright yellow and orange painted restaurant.  Big red lettering declared the place to be Rooster’s Roasters.  “It doesn’t look like much, but this place is great.  I come here sometimes alone, when I’m not in the mood to cook.”

“A secret pleasure?”  Cat asked with a flirty, confidential smile.

Matt chuckled, “Maybe a little.”

“Thank you for sharing your secret pleasure with me.” Cat said, emphasizing the word pleasure. Matt was a little surprised by the awkward flirtation. It struck him as immature, and turned him off a little. Maybe she was joking. In his experience, women waited to start the flirting until it was nearly time to do something about it. She had started doing it back before they left the woods, he realized. But that time had involved her touch, and hadn’t seemed in any way clumsy or immature.

He took a chance and chuckled again. Then said lightly, “You should see my non-chicken related secret pleasures.”

He’d screwed up somehow, Cat looked shocked. She responded formally, “Perhaps I will.” This was not registering right in Matt’s brain at all. He couldn’t pin down where she was coming from.

He parked the car. “Have you lived around here long? I’m new to the area myself.”

“Oh, I’ve been here for ages.” She said enigmatically. Then stepped out of the car. He followed her in and they stopped briefly at an unmanned Maitre D station before a man behind the bar waved them over.

“Hey Mike. You two are welcome to sit anywhere you like.” Roger “Rooster” MacConnel said. Mike had met the cook and owner of Rooster’s Roasters before. He had earned the name Rooster during his younger years as a punk rocker. There were some pictures of his old band hung behind the bar. He was skinny back then, but just as tall, with his bright red hair in a Mohawk.

“Thanks, Roger.” Matt led Cat over to a booth next to the front window. When they were settled he asked, “Ages huh? Do you have a lot of family around here?”

This seemed to strike a sore spot with Cat and she visibly deflated. “My mother was here, but she’s gone now.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to bring it up, was it recent?” Matt asked concerned.

Cat paused for a moment. It reminded him of when he spoke to people that had learned English later in life. They would sometimes pause before speaking as if to translate their thoughts into English. “It was a few years ago, but for me feels like yesterday.” She said.

Bird It Is, Then

“Oh, where are you parked?”  Matt Brass asked, looking around the parking lot which was empty except for his own car.

“I don’t drive.”  His new friend Cat replied, “Could you drive us?”

“Yeah, of course.  Do you want to stop at home to change?”  He said glancing down at his spandex biking clothes.

Cat looked curiously down at her own exercise attire for a moment, then looked up at him, stepped closer and pressed her body against his.  “Let’s just go.”  She breathed, looking up into his eyes.

Matt fought the rushing blood as he felt the curves of her body pressed against him.  “For food?”  He rumbled, no longer sure if eating together was all they’d be doing.

Cat pulled away a little, “Yes, let’s get chicken.”  She chirped.

Matt regained his cool, but the memory of the feel of her body lingered.  “Hop in”. He said nodding towards the car, “I’ve got to strap my bike in.”  She looked at the car, and then back at him in consternation.  He saw the question in her eyes.  No, couldn’t be.  She must want him to get the door for her.  “Please, let me get the door for you.”  He said and walked over to open the passenger door.  Cat approached cautiously, looking into the car and then back into his eyes.  Nervous from her strange behavior, Matt peer in at the passenger seat to double check he hadn’t left anything on it.  It was clear.  Cat slowly stepped into the car, looking around curiously.  Matt shut the door behind her and her head snapped towards him, he smiled and gave a little wave, then walked back and fastened his bike to the rack.

When he was satisfied with the bike, he walked around to the driver’s seat and pulled himself in.  “Sorry to keep you waiting, you said you like chicken?”  He said looking into Cat’s eyes.

“Yes, I’m starving for chicken.”  She demurred.  “I could eat two or three of them.”

“Chicken it is then.”  He said.  “I know a place with big portions where we won’t stand out too badly in our in cloths.”  He started the car and pulled out of the parking lot.  When the car started to move, Cat grabbed at the door handle and her seat.  “Sorry.”  Matt said, “I’m not used to having a passenger, I’ll try to ease up on the G’s.”

 

A Chance Meeting

Matt brought a backpack with him on the third trip down the path through the woods. In it he’d packed a hatchet and a hand saw, he’d be damned if those downed trees would stop him today.

The path was choked in heavy fog again, but he pushed on until he reached the blockade. It was even thicker this time with the downed trees, downed but not dead apparently, having grown branches which wove through the spaces between the logs forming the beginnings of a wall of foliage. Matt went to work with his hatchet immediately, chopping off the smaller branches and preparing the thicker logs for his saw. When they were clear he chopped the hatchet into one of the logs and it stuck, freeing his hands to work with the saw. As he bent over to retrieve it from his backpack he heard a woman’s voice from behind him. “Who are you to destroy these things?”

He turned and saw a woman clad in a clinging green gossamer dress. Her face had sharp slanting features and pointed ears, just like a elf out of Tolkien. Her long silvery hair flowed towards the east as though caught up in a breeze. He shook his head in consternation. No, it was an attractive blond jogger in a tight green and black jogging suit, and she’d said, “What are you doing?”

“Oh, I’m just clearing the way, so I can make this path my own.” He said. Strange. He’d wanted to say ‘so I can keep going.’

“What if the path doesn’t want to be your’s?” The jogger asked curiously. She took a step towards him. Gazing into his eyes intently, “You don’t smell like you have a human female.” No wait, she’d boldly said, “Are you single?”

He stood and brushed himself off, then turned to face her. “Hello, I’m Matt Brass.”

“I am called Scattering Leaves”/”Hi, I’m Catherine Greaves. I mostly go by cat.” She said. Whatever malfunction had made Matt see the strange fairy creature was clearing up. This was a normal woman, and from her smile and demeanor he could tell she liked him.

“Nice to meet you, Cat.” he said, and turned his head back to the road block. “Well, I could keep clearing the way, or, if you’d like…” He turned back to meet her eyes, “We could go back and go get something to eat together.”

Cat smiled at him winningly and held out her hand to him. “I’d love something to eat, birds… or, I mean, chicken, or something.” She said awkwardly and giggled nervously. Matt took her hand and they walked back towards the parking lot. Matt didn’t notice that the fog had almost entirely cleared.

Second Expedition

The next day, armored with a new bug visor, Matt Brass decided to try his new bike route again.  He set out in the afternoon, the weather was hot and humid after a light rain earlier in the day. Unsure how the weather would effect the bug problem, he coated himself liberally with repellent before unloading his bike from its rack.  The smell of the repellent thickened the already hot and heavy air.  He mounted and set off down the trail.

Almost immediately, the path became foggy. It was as if the fog preferred to stay in the secluded woods rather than flood out into surrounding developed land. Looking ahead, Matt saw his visibility decrease: 100 yards, 50, 20, 10. He had to slow down. He wasn’t sure how far down the path that downed tree had been, and he didn’t want to hit it at full speed because of fog. 5 yards visibility now, and he decreased his pace to a cautious meandering just fast enough to keep his bike upright. It seemed he would not achieve the relaxed, almost meditative state that he could only reach while biking without distraction. Again, he felt the desire to turn back. It bothered him how events had transpired to foil his second attempt to conquer this path.

He arrived at the fallen tree across the path. At least, he thought it was the same one. Strangely it seemed that other logs had been thrown across the path, criss-crossing the space above the first fallen log. Matt was shocked at this. While before, the fallen log had seemed a mere natural obstacle, this felt more like a road block. It had a forboding intent. This, he wouldn’t be able to just carry his bike over. He’d have to clear it or circle around through the woods. He turned around and headed back the way he’d come, picking up speed as the fog cleared. He wondered who was responsible for the road block. Local kids playing fort? A territorial vagrant? Who were they trying to keep out? Had they seen him yesterday and built up the road block just for him? This wouldn’t be as simple a fix as the bug visor, but Matt realized that he wanted to get to the bottom of it. Somehow this felt personal, like someone was trying to hold him back, and he couldn’t resist fighting it, not without knowing why.

A New Route

Matt Brass, an inveterate biker and exercise fanatic was checking out an alternate bike path route.  He rode in the early mornings and late afternoons, and his old path was starting to become congested with other bikers and walkers during those times.  He could still work around them but he found that the prescence of traffic prevented him from entering the peaceful zen like state which he sought while exercising.  In hopes of finding that again, he had researched some alternate paths and had immediately found one which looked very promising.  It was a long snaking path through a large wooded park that has long stretches without any road crossings.  He had resolved to check it out inmediately this afternoon, got dressed and set off on his bike.

The path was everything he’d hoped for in regards to solitude.  There was very little traffic.  Unfortunately, he was still having trouble quieting his mind as he rode.  The problem was that in the late summer, in the woods, there were bugs, and as he rode, he was finding that a small percentage of those bugs were encountering his face at high speed.  It was both disgusting and distracting, and he was thinking of just turning back.  Maybe he’d come back with a motorcycle helmet, or something.  As he debated turning around, he saw something ahead on the path.  A log laying across it.  He braked and stopped next to it, then turned his head to look back down the path he’d come.  He hadn’t cut a ride short in a long time.  He always went five miles or more.  But with the bugs and now this tree, continuing forward just seemed foolish.  He set off back the way he’d come, and began planning how to properly tackle this new path.  He’d use the extra time and energy he’d have tonight to go to the bike shop and inquire about goggles and bug visors.  Maybe he’d browse online for a compact hand saw, in case he needed something extra to clear the path.  It was probably the municipality’s job to keep the path clear, and he could just carry his bike over them, but who knows what their maintenance schedule is, could be seasonal for all he knew.