The bar is in Clarksdale. It’s just like a hundred thousand others. Dark, neon lights. The smell of stale beer and spilt whiskeys hang in the air. There’s a giant mirror on the back wall, behind row after row of whiskey bottles. Draft beer is on the bar.
It’s one street away from the River.
For the record, I was drinking coffee.
The band was set up in the corner. They play the blues after dark. I’d be long gone by then.
She was the barmaid. Tall and thin, dressed in black. She was quick, moving about with the grace of a dancer. She smiled a lot. She had a piece of jewelry stuck in her nose.
She asked “Where y’all from?”
I love it when someone says “y’all.” I know I haven’t strayed too far from home.
I think she knew we were out of towners, not locals.
Said she grew up in Clarksdale, but had been to California. Had to get away, then had to get back home. She said it was a big world out there, once you left the Mississippi Delta.
I smiled, then I laughed. “Yes, it is. There’s a whole lot of world out there, once you get across the Mississippi River.”
I’ll admit, I was flirting with the barmaid a bit. She was easy to talk to.
Then again, my wife, was sitting at the table with me. Sue gave me one of those “looks.” I realized I needed to keep my mouth shut.
“What can I get for y’all?”
There, that word again!
I was thinking about some of her stories she could tell. I’ve never been to California. I like to tell stories, I’d bet she’s got a million to share.
“I don’t know anyone from Brookhaven?” she said, ending the sentence with a question mark. “In fact, where is Brookhaven?” She was making small talk while we were reading the menu. “Do y’all want something to drink? Sweet tea or something else?”
Back to business as usual.
Two more couples walked in. Like a humming bird, she was off to hand them a menu, ask where they were from and how could she help.
I wanted to ask her to share a few stories, tell me what she did when she wasn’t handing out menus and delivering cold beers and shots. I wanted to know the story about the tattoo, the boyfriend she left in California and, of course, that piece of jewelry in her nose.
Then, there’s the “coming back to Clarksdale.”
I knew a guy who broke up with his girlfriend in Oregon. He thought it was true love, found out it was just a heat wave during a cold winter. He put what he needed in his truck, told her she could have the rest. Bought a tank of gas and headed east about 5 o’clock one night. Didn’t stop until he got to Greenville.
He said he just wanted to get back and hear someone say “Y’all” again.
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