The Eating Place Outdoor Dining

The Eating Place: A Short Story

calligraphy-basmala-feathers-marbled-persian-birdCarnelian Lane was a dead end street. At the very end of the road, nestled among giant shade trees and a lovely fountain which sang its tune refreshingly, there was a very fine restaurant. As the phrase suggests, this dead end street was somewhat dead: not in the sense of life and death but rather in the sense of not having much commotion in the way of traffic, neither foot nor automotive.

For the restaurant, the dead end street was both a curse and a blessing because although not many people would run into the place by chance, it was a serene refuge of respite and nourishment for the weary of both mind and body.

One day a young man wandered to the end of Carnelian Lane in search of some guidance in reading his map of this neighborhood of stone-named streets. All at once, he noticed an exotic fragrance of roses mingled with delicate spices which hinted not the reality that he was lost in the suburbs, but rather that he was a lost traveler who had just stumbled upon a local eating place hidden among a maze of twisting backstreets and drying laundry in Morocco.


“…he approached the high, brick perimeter which was doused in brightly-colored bougainvillea…”

The man’s curiosity got the best of him, so he approached the high, brick perimeter which was doused in brightly-colored bougainvillea amidst which he found an ornate, wrought-iron gate, slightly ajar.

As he pushed the heavy, metal handle, he heard laughter mingled with tumbling water which contrasted sharply with the bleating traffic of the city streets assaulting him only moments before.

“What is this place?” he wondered, as his eyes drank in an oasis of beauty. He saw small tables laden with plates of delicious-looking food and drinks in rainbow colors. Many people spattered the scene; imbibing, smiling. He chuckled as he watched laughing children chase meowing cats, and tiny hands and barely escaping tails as they suddenly disappeared under tents of snow-white, linen tablecloths and just as suddenly reappeared.

Candle flames atop the linen tents flickered in the breeze as the man was asked if he wanted a table.

“This place is amazing,” the man said. “You should hang a sign out front, like all the other eating places, that says something like RESTAURANT: FINEST FOOD.”

Suggestion taken, the next day a hand-painted sign with red lettering was hung at the intersection of Carnelian and Turquoise with the precise wording the man had proposed and an arrow pointing toward the cul-de-sac end of the road.plum-blossoms-pink-wooden-sign

Not long after the sign went up, a barrage of opinions and criticisms followed. First it was SERVED HERE. The sign should have these words added to be more concise and avoid confusion…

Next, someone complained that HERE was redundant and should be removed since the pointing arrow already made that clear.

Another complained that SERVED should be taken off, since, obviously, if there was food, it would be served.

Someone else thought it too conceited to say FINEST FOOD and that people would surely condemn and be encouraged to contest that claim.

Eventually, after much ado, what was stated on the sign was only FOOD; and the owner thought that a bit odd, so he decided to forego the sign altogether and had it taken down.

What remained was that there was what was there from the beginning: a serene refuge of respite and nourishment for the weary of both mind and body; a very fine restaurant nestled among giant shade trees and a lovely fountain, at the very end of the dead end street, Carnelian Lane, a street from the neighborhood of stone-named streets.

Heart knows realities without names. Intellect which has overtaken heart knows only names without realities…

Maps, signs
These have led,
Forks and spoons,
A morsel fed
Must be eaten,
Not merely held
Or read.

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