“Cheers! Happy Birthday Phil!” Like synchronized swimmers, each body gracefully bends at the hip to the center of the table. Cups clatter. Cheers.
Muffled words among the crowd. An explosion of laughter erupts. Four balloons suspended in the air fly aimlessly next to their table. The aluminum backside of one reflects the flood light from the ceiling.
Aside from that crowd, the place is mostly empty. It’s a big establishment. Multiple rooms are available for varying purposes. An outside seating area provides fresh air, a scenic glimpse of the river as well as a large space for entertaining a small-army.
Inside, the burning fire sends a warm draft throughout the front room. Every now and then, the smell of baked bread travels from the kitchen to the front room then fades.
The wooden walls are decorated with metal tree light fixtures.
Another couple enters. “Do you want to sit by the fire or somewhere else?”
He walks a few steps in front of her. He pulls out a chair for her and patiently waits. She approaches slowly, walker in hand and sits down carefully. Making sure she’s snug, he gives the chair a gentle push, then walks away. Another woman, younger, has joined the seated woman at the table. The man returns-hands full. He lays down a soda for her and a glass of red wine for himself.
Advertisements for “The Siuslaw” litter the place.
“I bought you some stuff today. Some cough drops. They had some good grapes, bananas. You can have cough drops,” said the younger woman.
The first woman responds in a fragile, quiet voice. They glance at the fire they’re seated next to.
A timer is going off in the distance.
An occasional oven door opens and closes quickly. Pans bang together. Then, a moment of silence.
Muttered conversation return in the distance.
A new smell emerges. Mozzarella perhaps? And then it quickly disappears. Cold air runs rampant among the establishment at each cracking of the wood doors. The cold draft lasts only as long as it takes to send a layer of goose bumps across your body.
Pepperoni begins to invade the air.
Across the way, through a glass window, the silhouette of a horse emerges through the orange glowing sunset. The view from another window is across the river. Trees reveal the bare, naked, remnants of winter.
A cash register chings, change jangles.
Signs suspended above the beverage are read: Soft drinks, wine, The Brewery, and other drinks.
The orange-glow from across the way has dissipated. The trees are now a desolate, sad, gray hue.
Another timer goes off.