If you've never had the chance to eat in New Orleans, well, you might want to add it to your "to-do" list. I've been thinking more and more about Nola as Saints and Sinners approaches, and I can't wait to get there. The people, the writers, the books, the panels, the discussions and...
There's the obvious stuff, of course. Getting beignets at Cafe Du Monde at some ungodly hour, the phenomenal coffee with chicory that my husband loves so much, and - without fail - at least one or two visits to the Clover Grill. There's also the bigger meals at finer places, and dishes that I've come to love - red beans and rice, for example - that just taste better in New Orleans. But my real joy are those little places tucked aside - like the Clover Grill - that aren't much to look at, but offer up so much.
"Someone to Lay Down Beside Me," by Todd Gregory
Said grill is the setting of the next story in The Dirty Diner. Having been to the diner every May for the last half-dozen years or so, I could picture it so clearly in my head as I read the opening to the story. Two guys, Gary and Dennis, are eating in the early morning hours after an evening that hasn't met expectations. Gary's relationship with Dennis is murky - Dennis doesn't seem to approve of much that Gary does, but doesn't want to hold claim over Gary either. The end result is obviously frustrating to Gary, and when Dennis teases him about approaching a hot fellow who just walked past them in the diner, Gary is rankled just enough to go for it.
As always, Todd Gregory's stories hand over a sweaty hot romp, while still dropping a story in your lap. Gary becomes a bit more lost as the story progresses - you get the sense this is a man who doesn't really know where he fits into even his own life - and the collision of him with this new stranger (and the tangent friction of his "friend" Dennis's influence) sets him in a new direction.
I always knew the Clover was magic.