Maybe you’ve driven by the marquis and seen those words “THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES.” They make me think of small businesses, Mom and Pop stores, restaurants, services. Whether it’s recession or retirement, they are bittersweet farewells to places like the old country store my great-grandmother ran in Sulfur Well, Kentucky, the insurance agency my folks had where I was first paid by the hour, the restaurant where every kid in the family, sometimes even cousins too, got their first chance to work, and to support the the family operated enterprise.
This week I want to say a few words about these places that have given us such great memories and thank the Moms and Pops who started it all. Maybe my own children will look back nostalgically on Three Kings Publishing, where I became the founder and boss in 2012. Please comment with businesses you’d like to thank and read a tidbit from a short story from my Begotten Bloods Series entitled FATEFUL NIGHT, a bite of fiction written to honor the closing of Tabby’s American Grille & Bar, serving two locations near Cincinnati, OH for so many years. Thanks Mom & Pop.
Tabby’s American Grill & Bar was a landmark not far from King’s Island Cincinnati. The local hangout was frequented by a loyal compadre of regulars, light traffic off I-75, and all manner of revelers in between. Kellee might have made better tips elsewhere, one of the bars closer to campus for instance, but Tabby’s was family owned, friendly and neither the owner nor the cooks allowed anyone to get overly frisky with the girls behind the counter. Three of those girls were daughters of the owners who took Kellee under their wings and turned her into one of the best bar keeps around. A fact that irritated Kellee’s mother no end and made the daughter of that cheating ho smile every time she thought of it.
The crowd during the holidays swelled and Kellee took on as many hours as she could including some time now serving as night manager. Truth was the bad economy hit Tabby’s pretty hard, the place was on the market, and if it didn’t sell early next year the family would probably have to shut the business down. Management experience and a stellar recommendation were all Kellee would take with her. Maybe the distraction of these thoughts was why she didn’t initially notice the loner.
He usually sat about as far from the bar as you could without getting in the way of the pool players at the back of the room. Tabby’s only accommodated two pool tables set end to end with an aisle on the far right for foot traffic, mostly smokers in the winter, who went to the narrow deck beyond. He picked up a game occasionally, drank Coors Light religiously regardless of the specials, and ate chicken tenders with mayonnaise like they were going out of style. Thus he was dubbed Mayo Man after only a handful of twice a week visits. Thursday, Kellee’s regular closing night, was always one of his visits.
If he stared over long at the girls behind the bar, it was hard to tell what with the two big screens on the wall behind them. Did his gaze follow them to the kitchen or was he checking out the Keno display to the left of that swinging door with its round port hole window? Mayo Man was a smoker, wore Dickie jeans, a doe skin colored Carhartt jacket and scuffed up work boots, a duplicate of half the men who hit Tabby’s for their great food and to catch whatever sports they followed on the big screens in an atmosphere of down home camaraderie.
Football season was winding down with the Redskins going to the playoffs for the first time since 1999, but college basketball provided the back drop for the tall man who did catch Kellee’s eye that fateful Thursday.
Kristin King is an author and publisher. Her top sellers are “Unsinkable Vampire” and “Cain’s Coven,” and her latest novel in the Begotten Bloods Series is Death Taint. Three Kings Publishing can be found here. Three Kings is a Mom & Pop publisher of Christian writers (not necessarily Christian books).