“You old enough to be drinking that?” a rough voice at his shoulder asked. Adam looked up to see a tall man with grizzled black-silver hair peeking from under a charcoal gray hat, bright blue eyes, and a thick scar connecting one ear to the corner of his mouth.
“Barely.” Adam took a long pull on the beer, downing half of the bright yellow beverage in one go. “But yeah.” He held out a hand. “You must be Calvin.”
“Yup. If you’re old enough to be drinking that, that means you’re old enough to buy me one.” Calvin nodded to the waitress. “You eat yet?”
“No. Meant to, fell asleep on the plane.”
“I never could get the hang of that. How do you feel about barbecue?”
“I don’t know,” Adam allowed, “that I’ve got any feelings on it one way or the other.”
Calvin cocked his head and grinned at Adam. “Your Dad was right. You ain’t never been to Texas before, have you?”
“Why do you say that?” Adam asked. He and Calvin had only known each other a handful of minutes, and already they’d fallen into an easy banter. It was like being on base, with the guys -- everyone’s in the same boat, so why not be friendly?
Maybe, he thought half a minute later, it’d be better if he didn’t think about over there right now. Maybe these three months would go quicker, easier, if he let himself fall out of the habit of thinking about Tom.
“Because,” Calvin said, clearly unaware of the mental journey Adam had just taken himself on, “everyone’s got an opinion about barbecue. There’s good barbecue, and there’s what we can get here.” He smiled as the waitress set down the beer. “No offense, darlin’.”
“None taken, honey.” She smiled. “I dish it out, not dish it up, you know?”
“I hear you.” Calvin turned his attention to Adam, blue eyes twinkling. “So which one’s it going to be?”
“Both, I reckon.” Adam grinned. “I got a Texas-sized appetite, at least.”
“Oh, boy,” Calvin laughed. “This is gonna be fun.”
The next half hour dissolved into an orgy of beef. “Brisket, bread, and beans,” Calvin told the waitress. “Keep ‘em coming till we can’t eat no more.”
“If this is the bad barbecue,” Adam said, looking at the stack of dirty, sauce-stained plates, “I’d hate to see how much of the good stuff we can eat.”
Calvin smiled. “There’s no bad food in Texas. There’s just good and better.” He stood up and dropped a couple of bills on the table. “This was good. Now let’s go get better.”