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Encounter at Fuzzy Duck Cafe
by Sylvia D. Davis

I was driving from Ashland, Kentucky, to Lexington that cold, cloudy November afternoon when I decided to stop in Morehead at the Fuzzy Duck Cafe. I had been there once and had fallen in love with their special blend coffee and tortilla chicken wrap. Besides, it was the perfect kind of day to kick back with Fuzzy Duck coffee and just think.

I took exit 137 off I-64 West and drove the two miles into town. Pulling up to the cafe I noticed only a few people inside. Perfect. I ordered my sandwich and was walking to a table when a tall, burley fellow bumped into me. His faded bibbed overalls, worn tee shirt, and beaten denim hat gave the impression of poverty -- or carelessness. His caramel colored beard flowed to his chest. His blue eyes bulged like a bullfrog's throat behind rimmed glasses.

"Oops!" the big man said, "Excuse me." Instantly I recognized him as the famous local writer, Ray Sloan.

"Oh, hi, Ray," I said. Although I didn't know him personally, I had bought one of his books earlier in the year. Everybody knew Ray, so he didn't think it especially odd that a stranger like me would call him by name.

I took a table next to the wall and noticed that Ray was sitting at one near the window. He had a cup of Fuzzy Duck and a notebook on the table. Didn't take a genius to figure out that this is where Ray did his writing. He would scribble a stroke or two, sip his coffee and then head outside briefly. After a few trips I realized that he was taking smoke breaks.

A couple of clean cut, well dressed fellows at another table were conversing with Ray across the small room. I couldn't understand everything they said, but I could tell that Ray was spinning some wild yarn about a young lady he'd met from Lexington. No wonder he can write books, I thought. This man can talk volumes and who's to say whether he's telling the truth or not. But isn't that what writing is all about?

I finished my chicken wrap and drank my coffee. As I left the cafe I saw Ray standing outside again, on yet another smoke break. I started to get into my car but suddenly changed my mind. I just had to ask Ray one question.

"Say, Ray, does smoking make you a better writer?"

"I reckon so, honey. I been smokin' and writin' since I was a youngun."

"Thanks," I said and went back to my car. If smoking makes a person a better writer, then I guessed I would have to try it. After all, I was an aspiring writer who wanted to make it big like Ray.

I pulled my car over to Save Right grocery and went inside. Now what kind of cigarettes should I buy? Never having smoked I figured I'd better go with something filtered, something lady-like. Salem? Virginia Slims? I bet Ray was a Camel man like my daddy. Rough and tough, mean and lean. I wouldn't even consider Camel. Nope. My daddy had died when he was sixty-nine from emphysema. And I wouldn't want to go with Winston. That's what my husband smoked and he died at fifty-three from lung cancer. Salem? My best childhood friend, Nina, died at forty-eight from emphysema and she had smoked Salem.

I turned away from the cigarette section and walked back to my car. Remembering how much destruction, pain, and suffering smoking had caused my family, I resigned myself to being a smokeless writer. Maybe I wouldn't be as good as Ray . . . but I might live longer.


Sylvia writes:
My name is Sylvia DeLee Davis and I reside in Richmond, Kentucky, where I am a teacher/tutor/writer. I have been published in various anthologies and magazines, both locally and nationally. I am currently in the process of publishing my first book titled Appalachian Angels, a collection of near-death experiences and angel encounters by Kentuckians.


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