A Story by DBURKE

From The Moral Of The Story Series


Every night I came to town looking to dine at a run down shack of an eatery that sits on the corner of Toll and Chambers called The Chicken Tower . It was not a part of town a woman such as I should have made her way into but intentionally I did. Inside the unattractive walls of the dark, fried food and grease smelling joint, was a mystery that I was dying to figure out. That mystery's name was Larenn. Larenn was a multi purpose bus boy that worked at the shack called The Chicken Tower faithfully. I secretly admired him from afar, of course he was a handsome colored boy, but a woman of my privileged caliber saw Larenn as nothing more than the poor help who scraped tables and served for a living. Who was I kidding I could not see myself walking into a high class gathering with that not on my arm. He was shinny from sweat and grease, not very well groomed, and needed serious work on his posture.

There were times when I came to watch him with my girlfriends and all we could do is laugh at that pathetic boy. I mean I call him a boy because of his lifestyle- not his stature. Men didn't serve in shacks, they held reputable jobs with meaning. He works in a poor little chicken joint covered in soot all day, at times without a break but that crazy boy kept a satisfying smile on his face though it all. That somehow amazed me. Not only did that amaze me. I purposely flipped a plate over on him a couple a weeks ago and laughed about it. He did not get mad; In fact, his way of getting revenge was to help me one night with my car when it was stuck in a stack of snow.

I noticed how people responded to him. They spoke to him as if he was somebody important. They treated him as if he came from royalty, yet- he's a filthy little black bus boy that I had my eyes on. Maybe the people were infatuated by this boy because of pity, the same goes for myself to say the least. Whatever it was, I wanted to know this young boy personally.

One day I became tired of the foolish, curious stalking and decided to pluck his brain for information. He came by my table with that pleasantly stupid smile cleaning and whistling. That was my cue to strike a conversation.

"Excuse me Mr. Bus boy could you please come and fill my glass?"
When he came over I asked him why was he so attractive even though he was a dreadful sight of geese and the smell of chicken.

He smiled at my insults and replied, "Good day Misses. Will you be needing anything else this fine afternoon." He asked me as if my question was vacuous, yet not enough to ruin his day.

I chuckled a little . "Well since you asked, I was hoping maybe you could join me a couple of minutes and have a glass of water with me?"

He paused and stared at me with suspicion. Despite his stare I retained my composure and continued to smile while gesturing with my hand that he have a seat.

"Well I guess it wouldn’t hurt for me to sit a few minutes with you. Now would it?" His question seemed as if he was skeptical, but it was definitely my job to assure him it was okay.

We sat a moment in uncomfortable silence before I heard sounds escaping my lips. "I know you wish you didn’t have to do such a dishonorable job each day. Would you say I am correct?" I asked hoping to come to his level and offer a show of compassion.

He sat back and peered right through me with his eyes as if he was reading me from the inside. He then smiled and leaned forward. "Well Miss. If you don’t mind I would love to share a story with you. Is it okay?" He asked.

I shrugged my shoulders permissively wondering what the heck his story would have to do with my question.

"Well Miss a long time ago this restaurant was owned by a man named Murphy Engram. Murphy was not a rich man as you can see from this here building but he had a burning passion in his heart for what he loved to do and knew he could do what he loved well. Now I assure you Miss when this place was built back then, it wasn’t considered a dump shack. Nah- people came here from all over the south to eat Murphy's good old fried southern chicken. This used to be a family joint and on Sunday mornings there was a line down the road there with folk waiting for a table. All kinds of folk- black folk, white folk it didn't matter. That side over there was for the white skinned people and this side where you're sitting was for the colored folks. Murphy was doing good until the war started, then the business dwindled down to stragglers. Murphy didn’t close the doors though he kept on cooking serving up meals around town, working on folks farmland in between, and helping out folk that needed food or a place to sleep. When the war ended the soldiers came home looking for Murphy's home cooking and raised money for him to put the restaurant back into full drive. As the years went by his name became bigger than this here building and he moved on to the commercial frozen market making dinners that could be brought out of the freezer and cooked in the oven. That Murphy got rich as a king- took his wife and kids out the poor parts of town and set them up real good; Therefore, Miss this job is far from degrading. I am proud to be a part of this here place."
The man sounded like a fool to me. The history of the place did not have anything to do with him looking like a rag monkey wiping tables all day.

"Well that was a touching story….. really it was. I guess it still did not answer my question. I mean why would you want to spend your life working in a place like this, living poor, and looking pitiful when you could go to school and do something with your life. I mean you are an attractive feller underneath all that grime. I would suppose I might even take a shot at you." I smiled at him attempting to give him hope.

He stood up and smiled again. "I appreciate this time we had together Miss. I hope that you continue to come and enjoy this place as much as I do. Uhm- before I get back to my sorrowful job I want to leave you with a little knowledge. When someone finds something that means something to them, their talent, their calling, the one thing they have passion for in life; they stick to it and they do it to the best of their ability and give it their all every day. This place means everything to me. It put the food on the table, the clothes on me and my family's back, it paid the bills."
"Oh Mr. Larenn I am so sorry if I offended you! We all have to find a way to make it I was simply…"

"I'm not finish Miss. I come here because I have love, appreciation, and a passion for my grandfather's hard work. You see I am already rich, I have it all and more than you could dream of but that does not stop me from slowing down enough to treasure and show my appreciation for the place that started it all. That is why I work each day with a smile. My grandfather worked hard and never gave up on his dreams and because of him I never have to want or worry about anything. I feed the poor. I assist the stragglers. I do all the things my grandfather did that gave him a good name. I do it all with a smile on my face and satisfaction in my heart. God blessed my family and now it's my turn to bless others."

Foolish embarrassment is where he left me. I had this one pegged wrong. I judged him by his exterior but his integrity was something I could've learned from. So I came back the next day in overalls and a hairnet and humbly asked if I could serve along side with him.

Do we often judge a book by its cover? Do we go through life not appreciating the culture, traditions, and things done before us that made life easier for us today? Do we fight hard enough for our dreams, or to live working on our passion not because of monetary reward but the reward of blessing others and accomplishment? Are we setting up a future for our kids?



© 2015 DBURKE

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Added on September 23, 2015
Last Updated on September 23, 2015



My name is D.Burke. I was born and raised in Milwaukee WI. I write fiction horror/thrillers and poetry. I decided to pursue my writting career after the tragic loss of my eight year old daughter. My f.. more..


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