The Soupster eats dinner despite difficulties.
The Soupster peered through the curtain in his kitchen as a February squall barreled in, dropping visibility to zero and dumping an inch per hour of heavy, wet snow.
“T’ain’t fit for man nor beast,” he muttered.
The Soupster was supposed to head to his friend Bob’s house for dinner with him and Janet, another friend. A crackerjack cook, Bob always crafted a feed the Soupster could feel himself remembering fondly for days afterward.
“But not tonight,” he moaned to himself. “Don’t make me go out tonight.”
The Soupster peered out the window again. The snow seemed to be falling faster. Bob’s house wasn’t far, but it was up a hill. Over his stomach’s protests, the Soupster let his body flood with a low-energy dysphoria.
Bob always went to so much trouble – it was rude to cancel because of a little snow. But the more the Soupster looked outside, the lower he felt. He actually felt physically ill.
He called Bob. “I’m just miserable about canceling,” he said, “but I can’t face the weather tonight.”
“It’s okay,” said Bob. “Janet just called and cancelled, too. She said she’s been sick all day. We’ll do it another time.”
The Soupster tried to sound wretched as he said goodbye. But as soon as he clicked off the phone, his dark cloud dissipated. He didn’t have to go out! He could hunker down with a book and a blanket and comfort food. The attractive choices seemed limitless!
But the wind had other plans. A big gust blew a hemlock onto an electrical line along the Green Lake Road. The Soupster’s house — with the rest of Our Town — went dark.
He grabbed a flashlight and lit two oil lamps. Next on the Soupster’s agenda was to find out what had happened and if anybody knew how long they would be out of power. He retrieved his portable radio, but the batteries were dead. So he put on his boots and coat and went out to his car to use the radio there. After a few minutes, the announcer – his station powered by a generator — reported the downed tree and city-wide blackout. No estimates yet.
Sitting in the car, the Soupster’s stomach spoke louder than his desire to hunker down. Cheese, chips, bread, salad, grapes – none of them needed cooking and all available a few miles down the road. His stomach convinced the Soupster to turn on his car and carefully, very carefully, drive to the supermarket where – due to generators — the store shone like an island of light.
As the Soupster trundled inside, he was struck by the number of people gathered around the front counter. A couple of shoppers walked the aisles and one of them turned out to be Janet.
“Feeling better?” the Soupster asked sheepishly and Janet nodded sheepishly back.
“As soon as I cancelled, I felt cured,” she said.
Just then, Bob turned the corner, clutching a bag of charcoal and can of charcoal lighter fluid.
“Well, lookey here!” he said, smiling. “You co-conspirators look pretty healthy to me.” He jiggled the bag in his arms. “Anyone for barbecue by candlelight?”
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