D oc surveyed the hunting Club members seated at the large round corner table in Doreen’s 24 HR Eat Gas Now Café. “Well Rev, now that you’ve joined us in retirement, what do you want to do?”
I held my empty coffee cup aloft. Doreen snorted, stomped across the café and poured refills for everyone. “I’m doing it.”
We raised our cups in a toast.
Doreen thumped the pot on the table. “You’re all retired. For the past thirty years, you’ve complained that you want to take trips, go fishing, go hunting, but you haven’t had any time. Now you’re all free and you’re sitting around here talking.”
We raised our cups in another toast.
She stomped back to the counter, muttering under her breath.
As a group, we sighed, smiled, and looked out of the window. I sprinkled a few grains of salt into my cup to cut the bitterness. “We could go fishing, I guess.”
“Good idea,” Willie said. “Where do you want to go?”
“How about Lake Fork?” I suggested.
“They should be biting,” Doc said.
We thought about Lake Fork for a few minutes.
Doc cleared his throat. “We could drive up to Lavon and maybe catch some crappie.”
“Sure would taste good,” Jerry Wayne said.
We thought about frying crappie for a few minutes.
“Didn’t that guy say he wanted to take us fly fishing on the Brazos?” I asked.
Willie nodded. “He said to call him when we were ready. He’s giving us a half off price because the water was so bad the last time.”
“So there’s another idea,” Woodrow said. “But I’d kinda like to go camping. Why don’t we get the trailers, I’ll pull my boat, and we can go to a state park on a lake somewhere.”
We considered state parks. Wrong Willie went out to his truck and returned with a map. We spread it out on the table, tracing highways and pointing toward various state parks.
“We can leave the state if we want,” Doc suggested, thinking out of the box. “How about southeast Oklahoma or Arkansas? We don’t have to be back on Monday. We’re free.”
Freedom was a pleasant thought.
“We can be gone as long as we want,” Jerry Wayne announced with satisfaction.
“The wives won’t care,” Woodrow said.
“They’ll probably be glad that we’re going,” the Cap’n said. He isn’t officially retired, yet, but he’s the boss and can do what he wants.
We studied the weather for a few minutes. It was perfect weather for fishing or camping.
I waved toward Doreen. “I’m getting hungry. Would you bring me a burger and fries?”
“Why not?” she sighed.
Everyone ordered, and we studied the maps until our food arrived. We folded them up and dove in. Half an hour later, Doreen cleared the table and the maps returned.
Doc worked a toothpick and leaned back. “I like not having to be in a hurry about this, boys. Gone are the days when we had to leave on a Friday and come back Sunday night. Now we have options.”
“Why don’t we go somewhere farther away?” I suggested. “Let’s head up to Colorado for a week. The weather will be cool and the crowds are still about two weeks away.”
High fives all around. We celebrated with more coffee, much to Doreen’s consternation.
“Wait,” Willie said. “We’ve been wanting to retrace old Route 66. Let’s just pick up the highway west of Oklahoma and head west through New Mexico and Arizona?”
“We can do that,” the Cap’n said. “We can take our time and enjoy the trip. No return deadlines.”
More maps arrived and we traced dim, long forgotten routes.
Schedules were considered.
Funds were estimated.
“More coffee, please?” I asked Doreen.
She complied and we expanded our horizons.
Finally, four hours later, we were exhausted.
“Let’s pick it up here tomorrow,” Doc suggested. “We have all the time in the world to plan our trips.”
With that plan in place, the boys left. I folded up my map as Doreen watched from behind the counter.
She frowned. “Is it going to be like this from now on?”
“What do you mean?”
“You guys can go anywhere you want whenever you’re ready, but y’all spent all afternoon in here trying to make a decision about deciding where to go. Is this what I have to look forward to?”
I thought about it for a minute. “Yep. We can take our time, and do what we want, because we’re retired.”
“Aren’t you going to do something? Anything?”
“Like I said, we’re doing it.”
She must have been real happy about the news. Because she teared up as I left with a promise that we’d be back for breakfast, and more planning.
Email Reavis Wortham at [email protected]