After finding the School Cave, Bobby and I returned to the cafe as promised where I had one of the best hamburgers I've tasted outside of Colorado. We were the only customers in the tiny, and aptly named Back Pocket Cafe. It was a spare establishment with four tables and chairs, a stone fireplace and wood paneled walls--bare save for a mounted rug featuring the iconic poker playing dogs. There were also several photo-copied sheets placed strategically about the dining area with the capitalized, exclaimation-pointed injunction, ABSOLUTELY NO PROFANITY! There was also a new panel t.v. with a Wii game system. Being the only working business in the hamlet (for that is what Ravenden Springs is today), Back Pocket also served as a community gathering place and general store; there were several grocery shelves along the back wall.
Aside from Paul, we were the only people in the place, and sitting down with us, he proceeded to divulge his life story. A former truck driver from Ohio, he had married a local,but his wife was recently permanently disabled; due to medical malpractice Paul claimed. Crippled by medical bills, he had been forced to sell his home and his rig. In a last ditch effort they had come down to revive her family's languishing cafe. It was a desperate action by a desperate man. The town had hardly any citizens and received no traffic. Aside from the occasional writer from Denver and his brother-in-law, he had the place to himself. Paul explained that he was banking his hopes on the fall hunting season, but I couldn't imagine that amounting to much.
We learned that the town had a Marshall who lived across the street (in Ravenden Springs everyone lives across the street). Paul told us that if we wanted to learn more about the town and its history we should go talk to him. Saying our goodbyes, we made our way over to one of the tiny ramshackle houses ringing the knoll that is the town proper.
As we were walking up the drive a woman came around from the back of the house. Bobby greeted her and explained our interest in the cave and Paul's suggestion that we speak to the Marshall. She turned out to be the man's daughter and informed us that the Marshall was out of town at the moment. We said our goodbyes, and since it was getting late headed home. I was feeling happy as we chatted down the highway, over the long bridge across the Black River, out of the wooded hills and back into the green shimmering rice fields of the delta. Yet I was unfulfilled, I wanted to know more and I felt my visit to the cave was rushed. I had to come back. Then I realized that I had somehow managed to forget to tip Paul for the lunch. Once again, I felt that pull, something calling me back to Ravenden Springs.
To be continued.
Causes Iain Coggins Supports
Education as a human right, rather than as a privilege or an opportunity.