Last Saturday, I took part in a book signing at the Anadarko Library. I met some new readers and had a blast! The people at the library were wonderful, especially my friend and fellow writer, Tamrie Foxtail, who put the whole thing together. She did a marvelous job, and I so appreciate her hard work.
Here are two of the readers we met, sisters Samantha and Montania (yes, that’s spelled correctly). They were so cute and so enthusiastic about reading. I thought it interesting that, even though they are quite young, they preferred print books over ebooks. Guess new technology isn’t always welcome. 🙂
I made the trip with my Martini Club 4 peeps, Amanda McCabe, Kathy L Wheeler, and Krysta Scott. On the way back, we drove to Okrache and had lunch at Eischen’s. It was wonderful! I’d been there a handful of times, it’s my son, Presley’s, favorite place to go, but I hadn’t been in ages. Amanda and Krysta had never been. In case you’re not familiar with Eischen’s, it was once featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The bar opened in 1896 and is reputed to be the ‘oldest bar in Oklahoma’ although I was educated on the fact that it’s not actually the oldest bar. Blue Belle Saloon in Guthrie is three years older, but Eischen’s is the oldest bar that has stayed in business since it’s opening, other than briefly closing for prohibition in the early 1900’s and a fire in 1993, and is the only one still owned by the same family. Blue Belle has opened and closed over the years and changed ownership several times.
Our server, Ryan, was awesome. He took good care of us and was friendly and helpful. I asked him about the history of the bar, and since he didn’t know all the information, he brought over A.J., who was a wealth of information. (I most likely have some of the details wrong. I didn’t take notes, I was just soaking it all up in my over-worked pea brain :))
Eischen’s is known for it’s yummy fried chicken and okra, and I was curious about how they came to serve these dishes. A.J. said it was the result of a shuffleboard contest in 1963. The winner would receive a chicken dinner (winner, winner, chicken dinner), and the owner and his friend (who had a part in running the bar), used the friend’s recipe and cooked the winner a chicken dinner. It was such a hit, that the owner purchased the recipe and has been serving it ever since. Okra was added some years later when farmers would bring it in and have the people in the bar sample it. The okra was a hit as well, and was added to the menu. Speaking of the menu, it’s very limited. They offer chili, roast beef sandwiches, nachos, frito chili pie, and barbecue sandwiches, in addition to the chicken and okra, but not much else. Then again, when you serve chicken and okra that tastes like that, you don’t need anything else.
I was fascinated with A.J.’s telling of the history of the bar. He told of how they came to be closed on Sundays. Farmers would come to the bar on Thursdays and pretty much stay straight through until Monday. The wives converged on the owners and demanded they do something about it. They agreed to start closing on Sundays, so the farmers would go home. 🙂
In my Suspense/Thriller, Without Mercy, I set a scene in Eischen’s, when my hero goes to meet up with the bad guys. You can read the Eischen’s excerpt below…
How far will a mother go to protect her child?
When an apparently random bank robbery turns out to be a sinister plan, single mother China Beckett is thrust into a nightmare.
A group of mercenaries take over her life, threatening her young daughter and everyone they love. Each time China makes a mistake, someone dies. She’ll fight to the last breath to protect her child, but that might not be enough.
As the lives of China’s loved ones are jeopardized, she must take action, although she has no idea where to turn—and time is running out. But then, a startling truth is revealed and China discovers that the only person who can save them might be a ghost from the past.
*** Warning: Explicit language and graphic violence ***
He arrived at Eischen’s in just under an hour. The hardwood floors were worn, and the walls held vintage beer signs. In a room at the back stood a few pool tables. To the right were tables surrounded by metal chairs. Plastic upholstered booths lined one wall. The place was crowded for a Monday night. What would it be like on the weekend?
Royce and Bishop sat at a table. Royce stood and waved Aiden over like an old friend anxious for a reunion.
Aiden squeezed past the bodies waiting to be seated and headed to the table.
“Sit.” Royce gestured to the chair across from him. “You remember Dan Bishop?”
“I do.” Aiden slid into a chair.
Bishop inclined his head in a nod, and Aiden returned it.
Royce twisted around and draped an arm over the back of his chair. “I took the liberty of ordering chicken, okra, and Budweiser. They’re world famous for their chicken. I haven’t tried it, but since it’s about the only thing on the menu, I figured I’d give it a shot. That okay with you?”
A thin, fifty-something waitress wearing jeans and a green Eischen’s T-shirt came over with three cans of Budweiser and sat them in the center of the table. “Chicken’ll be out in a minute, boys.”
Royce picked up a can and tipped it toward her. “Thank you, darlin’.”
He was rewarded with a wide smile before she moved on to another table.
Aiden shot a look around the dining room. The other customers were so close he could reach out and touch them. He leaned slightly toward Royce. “You really think this is the best place to conduct private business?”
“I think it’ll do just fine. The noise level will help drown out our conversation.”
“Sides,” Bishop cut in. “We had a taste for chicken. Folks around us are here for the same. Don’t give a hoot what we’re sayin’.”
Aiden spread his hands out in front of him on the scarred table. “So, what’s this all about? What do you want?”
“If you recall, we have a bit of unfinished business. A job about seven years ago where you never showed up at the rendezvous location to divvy up the payout.”
Aiden snorted a laugh. “That’s what this is all about? You think I ripped you off? I was in an explosion, ended up in the hospital. As soon as I came to, I went straight for the money. I was captured right after I collected. Arrested on some trumped up charge. The rebels took every bit of it.”
Royce shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe not. We think you might have it hidden somewhere. We know you were thrown in prison, but we got a feeling you hid the money first. Now me and Bishop here, we’re understanding fellas. We were willing to put it behind us. Then, I run into somebody who has it out for you. Hired us to get our own money back, how do you like that?” He chuckled. “Our boss expects a payout.”
Aiden’s gut roiled. These men were counting on money he didn’t have, and China and her kid’s lives were in danger if they didn’t get it. He had maybe five mil Wes’s accountant was holding, then if they’d give him time, he could do the job in Texas and get another mil. But the take from the job they’d done was fifteen. They wouldn’t be satisfied with a third of that.
“What makes your boss think it’ll do any good to use the woman and kid for leverage? Why would I care what happens to them?”
Royce grinned. “You’re in love with the Beckett woman.”
Stone’s chest tightened. “That’s a bunch of blarney.”
He raised his brows and smirked. “Right. That’s why you pined after her when you had to leave her behind to do the job in Tanier. Why you couldn’t wait to get back to her sweet little body.”
Anger simmered through Stone’s veins. Royce was just trying to get a rise out of him. He had to keep his cool. “You’ve got it all wrong.”
“Maybe. Boss man thinks you’re enough of a sap you won’t leave a woman and kid to fend for themselves, especially since the kid’s yours.”
Why did everyone keep saying that? Stone tried to keep his expression bland. “Kid ain’t mine. You gents are barking up the wrong Irishman. I don’t give two figs what happens to either of the females.”
Royce threw his head back and laughed. “Come on, Aiden. Even if you aren’t in love with her, and even if the kid’s not yours, you are not the kind of man who could walk away and leave them to die. Especially over something you started.”
Before he could respond, the waitress returned, her arms lined with food in paper containers. Efficiently, as if she’d done it thousands of times, she placed chicken, okra, bread, and a paper container of onions and pickles on the table, then laid a stack of wax paper squares down, which Aiden presumed were the plates.
“You boys ready for another beer?”
“You betcha. Thanks, sweetheart.”
This time a blush accompanied the smile. “Be back in a jif. You holler if you need anything else.”
After she disappeared, Royce and Bishop took turns picking out pieces of chicken and handfuls of okra, plopping them on the wax paper. Aiden’s stomach growled. The chicken smelled and looked delicious.
He helped himself to a leg and a handful of okra. The food was better than it looked. Who would have thought an old bar in nowhere Oklahoma would have the best fried chicken and okra he’d ever tasted? But then, to be fair, he could count on one hand the number of times he’d had fried chicken and okra.
“Damn, that’s good stuff,” Bishop said, licking his fingers. “They weren’t lyin.”
Royce nodded, picking up his can of beer and draining it as the waitress brought them a second round. When she left, he said, “So, am I right? You won’t leave China and Emma to die at our hands, now will you?”
Aiden pushed the chicken aside and picked up his beer, taking a long swallow from the can. They had him dead to rights. He wouldn’t let a stranger die because of something he’d done. Despite China’s betrayal, he damned sure couldn’t let her and her kid come to harm on his account.
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