Bob Lee Colwell phoned and asked Tom Behren, Jr., “Are you packed and ready to leave?”
“What are you talking about?” Behren paused his VHS tape of Blue Hawaii.
“Have you forgotten we’re going on vacation now that the COVID travel restrictions have been lifted.”
“No,” Behren answered. “When are we leaving? Where are we going?”
“I thought we were leaving next week.”
“We need to leave in the morning. We have reservations at a cabin in Tennessee. I’ll call Hernandez and remind him. Will you call Baxter-Halloway?”
“I’ll call. Where are we meeting? Who’s driving?”
Colwell shrugged and replied, “The diner, I suppose. I thought I could drive my minivan, but we will figure it out in the morning.”
The four men gathered at Frank’s Diner the next morning.
“I totally forgot about our vacation,” Condredge Baxter-Halloway III admitted. “Did we figure out where we’re going?”
Dennis T. Hernandez sipped his lukewarm coffee and answered, “I thought we rented a cabin on the Eastern Shore.”
Colwell shook his head. “No, I rented a cabin outside of Smoky Mountain National Park. It’s on a lake. We can fish all day and take turns cooking dinner.”
“I don’t like to fish,” Behren said. “I assumed we were heading up to Maine. My uncle owns a cabin, and offered to let us stay for free.”
Marge shook her head as she refilled their cups with two-hour old coffee. “Are you going on vacation together, or separately?”
The men looked at each other.
“Together,” Colwell finally answered.
“Then choose a place,” Marge said then walked away to take care of another customer.
“I’ve never been to Tennessee,” Hernandez said. “I can always drive down to the Eastern Shore.”
Colwell took a sip of coffee and said, “I haven’t been to Maryland’s Eastern Shore since I was a kid. I’ve always wanted to go back.”
Baxter-Halloway thought about their choices. “I hear Maine is quite beautiful in the fall.”
An hour later the men walked out of the diner after eating all the home-style banana pudding and lemon meringue pie in the diner. Baxter-Halloway paused to read a travel magazine by the front door.
“I should have called to rent the cabin in Tennessee, but I was so busy and just kept putting it off,” Colwell said. “The rates are cheaper in the spring.”
“I’ve been meaning to schedule my vacation, but never got around to it,” Hernandez said.
Behren unlocked his car and admitted, “My uncle died ten years ago, and my aunt sold the cabin. I should have taken the time to visit, but got too wrapped up in life. Now it’s too late.”
Baxter-Halloway rushed to join the guys. “Hey! I know the perfect place for a vacation.”
“Where?” Colwell asked. “Shoot! I should have bought a minivan when they first came out.”
“When?” Hernandez asked.
“Now, and we won’t have to drive. We can fly round-trip for $29 apiece, and it includes hotel rooms.” Baxter-Halloway held up the magazine. “There’s this new place called the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. According to this article, Elvis Presley is going to perform there this week.”
“Can we get tickets?” Behren asked.
“I’ll call this number and order them this afternoon.”
“Hey, did you ever get tickets to see Elvis?” Colwell asked two weeks later as he and Baxter-Halloway walked into the diner for lunch. He smacked his gloves together to warm his hands. “The forecast is for another three inches of snow today. I need to buy a new snow shovel. The last one I bought broke.”
“I’ve been meaning to call, but haven’t gotten around to it. Why? Should I see if they’re still available?”
“Don’t bother,” Colwell said. He handed Baxter-Halloway a copy of Newsweek. “Marge finally replaced the old magazines with newer ones. According to this, Elvis died in 1977. I doubt if he’s still performing in Vegas anymore.”
Baxter-Halloway tapped his jaw, pointed to the crushed velvet photo on the wall and said, “I heard a rumor about that, but thought it was nothing more than a publicity stunt.”
“Could explain why Marge hasn’t updated the jukebox with new Elvis 45s.”
Marge walked over, humming “It’s Now Or Never” and pulled a pencil from her beehive hairdo. “What can I get you fellows? I’ve got some fried chicken, cornbread, mashed potatoes and sausage gravy leftover from last night.”
“Could Art make me a peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich?” Colwell asked.