The reading...did not really happen. I showed up fifteen minutes early and I waited for someone to show up. It did not seem like it was going to happen. I was totally okay with the fact that no one was going to show up. It was a Friday night and I am an unknown writer with a book of short stories. I felt bad because Mary Gay had made a LOT of chicken salad sandwiches for the potluck. I was going to have to eat a LOT of chicken salad sandwiches to make it up to her. Five minutes past when the reading was supposed to start, a guy walked in. I was in the back of the store, staring at the chicken salad, but I could hear Mary Gay ask him if he was here for the reading. He said he was. She asked him how he'd heard about it and he said he'd seen it in the newspaper. And, he said, he'd read the tour diary on this blog. Well, Steven, thanks a whole bunch for letting me retain a very small fragment of my dignity. It was the first reading he had ever attended. But I did not read, because that just seemed like a bad idea. Instead, he and I talked about Stephen King and our writing regimens and I gave him a copy of the book. I ate sandwiches with Mary Gay and the staff and my dad and then I signed one of the wooden folding chairs in the store, which is an author tradition there.
Thanks also to my friend Justin Quarry, who sent me a bottle of wine and had reserved two copies of my book for me to sign, which made me really happy. He's on a writing residency in Utah, which sucks because I wanted to see him, and two people at the reading is more than one person at the reading.
My father and I ate breakfast this morning in Oxford, MS. We ate at Big Bad Breakfast and I had the breakfast sandwich called "With Signs Following." It had sausage and cheese and egg and tabasco mayo on white toast. It negated the need for lunch. Though we had planned on eating at Dixie Pig in Blytheville, my dad and I decided to eat at the Grecian Steakhouse (right next to the Olympia Steakhouse), because it was next to the hotel. All the waitresses seemed to be twelve years old. Our waitress was left-handed. My dad is left-handed. He tipped her double. It is a source of shame for him that I am not left-handed.
So that's it. I go back home tomorrow. I get to see Leigh Anne and Griff, though perhaps they will not remember me. Or perhaps they have learned how to live without me and my presence will cause unhappiness. I'll pick up the tour diary next week, when I read in Atlanta and Chattanooga.