Before the "Mega Mart" style stores came about where you could get a haircut , buy new tires for your car, get eye glasses and pick up something for dinner there used to be little road side emporiums which featured several stores strung together "strip mall" fashion.
One such place was W.G. Lydell's Taxidermy Shop, Funeral Parlor and 24 hour Café located on a 2 lane highway somewhere in our great country. I had the opportunity to visit there once. The sign out front said." Rest in Peace Bill Higgens" "Visitation 6 to 8" and underneath "Coconut Cream Pie $ 1.25 a slice! or free with the dinner special!"
I went in driven by hunger since I had been on the road all day without anything to eat. On one side was a glassed off partition with the coffin of Mr. Bill Higgens surrounded by flowers and several family members and friends. On the other side of the glass partition were booths , tables, and a small salad bar, a juke box and cash register. Through swinging doors at the other end I could see mounted heads on the wall of the Taxidermy shop!
The food came quickly and I ate it down without any hesitation. There was one awkward moment when I took a big bite of my meatloaf and looked up to see 2 more people enter the other side to visit and pay their respects to Bill. They glanced over at me while I tried to swallow the bite I took. I didn't know what to do so I waved! I think they nodded back but I'm not sure. I was determined to enjoy my meal in spite of the activities next door and ordered the pie! I downed it in 4 bites , swallowed the last of my coffee and got up to pay the check.
I said to the waitress at the cash register, "Interesting place you have here" She smiled and said "the local folks like it. It is convenient, you know!" She went on to say, " You should go next door and pay your respects and sign the visitors book. Old Bill didn't have many friends around here and I'm sure his family would appreciate it" " He died unexpectedly" she muttered under her breath. "What did he die of?" I ask. "Food Poisoning!" she said as she handed me my change. "He didn't have the meatloaf by any chance, did he" I said jokingly.
I went through the glass door into the viewing room, walked over and looked down at Bill. Turned to leave and stopped to sign the guest book. I wrote, "Good bye Bill, You will be missed! as an after thought I wrote "Good Pie!". and walked back out to my car.