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Setting Friday Free (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 06


DW is a veteran, a father, a husband, and a teacher. He's published 9 YA/NA novels thus far. The story you're reading might be next.


Where to have Dinner

A rumble from his stomach reminded Garrison he had not yet eaten supper. He swam to the shallow end of the pool, climbed from the water, picked up his clothes from the table on the patio, and, dripping water, entered the house.

Garrison decided not to partake of one of the frozen dinners waiting for him in the kitchen while he was taking a shower. The island was replete with restaurants from take-out only pizza joints to fine seafood restaurants offering valet parking. There were half-a-dozen good restaurants within half-a-mile of his front door. All he had to do was pick one.

Garrison chose a new fast-food restaurant next to the U20 Teen Club. The place had an odd name for Buzby Beach - Denver's Franks and Fries. Garrison had avoided the restaurant during the height of summer as it was a favorite hangout for high school and middle school kids before and after they visited the U20 Teen Club. The Club was another place Garrison had stayed away from since moving to Buzby Beach.


Why Fast-Food

Choosing to patronize Denver's occurred because Garrison was in the mood for a cheeseburger, fries, and a milkshake. While this combination of victuals might be available at other venues on the island, those establishments were of the sit-down-and-be-waited-on variety. Denver's was the closest thing Buzby Beach had to a fast-food place next to Iggie's, and Iggie's closed at sunset.

There wasn't a big crowd at Denver's. Garrison wasn't expecting there would be on a Thursday night in late August. He was the second person in line at the register.

When his turn came, the young lady looked up at him, smiled, and asked, "What can Denver's prepare for you this evening?"

Garrison turned his attention from the digital menu board hung high on the wall behind the counter to the young lady and replied, "I'd like a bacon-cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato only, extra-crisp fries, and a vanilla milkshake."

The young lady rang up his bill, Garrison inserted his credit card into the chip reader, pressed YES when asked if he agreed with the total, and removed his card when the machine instructed him to do so.

The young lady handed Garrison his receipt, told him his order number, and invited him to wait in a different line until his order was called. Not until he moved to the wait-to-be-called line did Garrison really notice the girl who'd taken his order.

Taking Notice

He watched the girl as she took the next customer's order and noted her name tag identified her as Laurel. If not for the miniature cowboy hat and goofy western uniform, Garrison said to himself, she'd be gorgeous. Even with those things on, she's kind of cute. I wonder how old she is.

Laurel turned his way, caught him watching her, and smiled before helping her next customer. Garrison tore his attention away from her and waited to hear his number called. In another minute, his patience was rewarded.

Garrison took the tray holding his dinner to a table in a front corner by the window. He unloaded the tray and placed it on the return shelf near the front door. As Garrison walked back to his table, he glanced at the counter and noticed Laurel was no longer at her station taking orders. In her place stood a teenage boy who looked like he must be in high school to Garrison.

Garrison sat down, took a sip of his milkshake, ate a fry, and started to unwrap his cheeseburger. He stopped when a shadow came over his table. He looked up, and his brows rose as a smile curled his lips when he saw Laurel standing there.


Hi, I'm Laurel

"Hi," said Laurel, holding a tray with a cola, fries, and a wrapped sandwich. "Would you like some company?"

"Uh, sure," Garrison replied. He made room on the table by moving his shake and fries closer to his side. "Have a seat."

"Thanks," Laurel said as she removed her dinner items from her tray and put them on the table. "It's no fun sitting alone to eat, don't you think?"

Laurel walked off to put her tray atop the pile where Garrison placed his. When she returned, Laurel launched into her next question while she unwrapped her two chicken tacos.

"So, I'm Laurel, Laurel Springs, like the town up in the mountains. What's your name?"

Garrison finished chewing the bite of burger he'd taken while Laurel put up her tray and said, "My name, uh, it's Garrison Kaylor."

"Like the guy who used to be on NPR?" Laurel asked after taking a sip of what turned out to be sweet iced tea.

Garrison shook his head. "No, his last name is Keillor with a long e sound. Mine is pronounced Kaylor with a long a. I might have been named after him, though. My parents listen to a lot of NPR."

Where do You Call Home

Laurel put down the fry she'd been about to eat and asked, "Do you live here on the island, or are you just visiting?"

Garrison paused in taking the next bite of his burger, pointed toward the island's south end, and said, "I live about half-a-mile from here."

Laurel took a bite of her taco and looked in the direction Garrison was pointing. After she swallowed, she said, "So, you live down at the rich end of the island. I should say, the richer end of the island. Anyone who can afford to live out here is rich. Richer than us, anyway. I take it your parents have money."

Garrison stopped chewing and regarded Laurel closely. When he could talk, he said, "I suppose they do. My mom is a surgeon. She lives at Wrightsville Beach. As for my father, he's a lawyer and lives in Raleigh. I live in the house I inherited from my grandparents."

Laurel lowered her chin and looked at Garrison through her lashes. "You have your own house here on the island? Is it yours? Does it belong to you? How old are you, Garrison?"

Garrison decided he didn't like the way the conversation was going. When Laurel first asked to sit down, he thought it was because she was interested in him. Now, it appeared all she'd really wanted was somebody to talk to. The look on her face and the tone of her voice told Garrison she clearly thought he was lying about owning the house. He found he'd suddenly lost his appetite.

I Know When I've Been Insulted

"I think I'd better go," Garrison said as he began wrapping up the remainder of his burger. "I don't care if you don't believe me about the house. My dad's folks left it to me because he'd ticked them off in some huge way." He stood up and gathered up the remains of his meal. "And, by the way, I turned eighteen last October, and I'm a freshman at UNCW, just in case you thought I was some high school kid trying to fake you out or something."

Laurel's jaw dropped, and her eyes opened wide when Garrison stood up, made his announcement, and turned to leave. He was out the door before she could recover enough to speak. Leaving her unfinished dinner on the table, she rushed after him.

"Garrison, I'm sorry," she blurted out when she'd pushed through the doors. "Please come back. I wasn't trying to be mean. Please."

Garrison stopped, took a deep breath and let it out slowly, and turned around. He was about to tell her to go back inside and leave him alone. The look of regret mixed with hope on her face stopped him.

"I don't have anything left to eat," Garrison said in response to her plea. "I threw my dinner away."

"I'll share mine with you," Laurel offered, "if you come back inside."


I'll Share

When she smiled while offering to share her food, the quiver of her lips convinced Garrison to go back into the restaurant. Laurel held the door for him.

When they were back at their table, Laurel said, "I hope you like chicken tacos."

Garrison's appetite returned. "I like the chicken tacos they serve at Los Amigos. Are these as good?"

"Better," Laurel promised, handing him one of hers. "Try it and taste for yourself."

Laurel talked while Garrison ate the taco.

"To make things fair, I should tell you about myself now. You know my name. I live over on the mainland in a neighborhood called Nantucket Pointe. Yes, it's named for the island off the coast of Cape Cod. My sister and I share the house we grew up in. Our parents bought it when it was first built. Denver was born two years after they moved in. I came along three years later."

Garrison stopped himself from taking his last bite of taco. "Denver? Do you mean the Denver this place is named after?"

Laurel laughed, took a sip of her tea, and then nodded her head. "Denver of Franks and Fries and my sister Denver are one and the same."

Garrison nodded and ran his tongue over his lower teeth. "I get the franks part and the fries. What about the rest of the menu?"

With a roll of her eyes, Laurel explained. "Denver loves alliteration. She also loves hot dogs, good ones, deli-style franks. When she dreamed up this place while she was in college, she imagined it as a fast-food sort of restaurant with a limited menu allowing customers to pick what they wanted quickly and get it just as quickly. Denver limited the menu to five basic items: hot dogs, burgers, tacos, chicken sandwiches, and fish sandwiches. She even came up with a special seasoning for her fries. Since the franks and fries are the stars of the menu, they got top billing on the sign."

"And you work for your sister," Garrison noted. "Is any of the business yours?"

Laurel finished her last fry before saying, "I own a small share, about ten percent. My parents own bigger shares. They each own eighteen percent. Denver owns the rest."

"Do you and Denver both work full-time here in the restaurant?" Garrison asked as he eyes Laurel's iced tea. The taco made him thirsty.

"Denver does, of course, but I don't. I just started at UNCW as a business major. Unlike Denver, I didn't attend early/middle college, so I'm not starting as a junior. I'm just a plain old freshman like you."

Laurel handed Garrison her cup. "Go and get yourself some iced tea. You look thirsty. I've got to get back to work, anyway."

Garrison took the cup and stood when Laurel did. "I don't have class tomorrow until ten. If you're free, maybe we could meet at the Hawk's Nest for breakfast or a cup of coffee or something. My treat."

Laurel smiled, and her eyes lit up. "I'd like that. My first class tomorrow isn't until ten, too. How about if we meet at Einstein Bros. instead. Great coffee and great bagels."

Without waiting to see if Garrison agreed, she hurried back to work. Garrison filled the cup she gave him with ice and sweet tea before heading for home.

The story continues in Chapter 07.

© 2020 DW Davis


DW Davis (author) from Eastern NC on December 12, 2020:

Thank you.

Wait until Laurel learns about Friday. Talk about testing the strength of a new relationship.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on December 12, 2020:

Good conversation and relationship building!

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