Sop With Doc and Chuck

Doc and Chuck ate everything but the skillet. 
A cool autumn breeze passed through the barren limbs of Serenity. It whistled through the overpass and down the gravel lanes that made-up the streets of Serenity.

Dickie shivered and peered though the screen door. “Can I come in, Doc. I’m getting cold.”

“Sure, boy,” Doc said. “And shut the door behind ya.”

Dickie came in and shut the door.

“I got a small fire,” Doc said. “Go git yerself warmed up.”

Next to the door was a small potbelly stove fueled by coal. Dickie stood near and rubbed his hands together briskly.

“I’d give ya shot of whisky if’n you was old or we’s back in Kentuck,” Doc said.

Dickie smiled. “Can I try some?”

“No,” Doc said. “Yer Daddy’ll skin me alive. Ya can have a seat if ya want ta.”

Dickie sat in one of the chairs on the opposite side of the room from the kitchn. “Can I turn on the radio?”

“Sure,” Doc said. “You can play with it a bit, but don’t play it too loud.”

Doc pulled a package of hamburger from the refrigerator wrapped in brown paper. He made three patties and pressed them hard into a cast-iron skillet, the same one he used for the minnows. They sizzled and soon the whole cabin was filled with smoke and the odor of the seared ground beef.

“Ya look out the window for Chuck,” Doc said. “When ya see him coming over the tracks let me know. I’m gonna let ya surprise him. You can sit the table. That’s his job. That way it will all be set when he comes home.” Doc quickly peeled potatoes and sliced them thin. When the hamburgers were done they were removed from the skillet and on to a plate. Doc tossed the potatoes into the skillet along with a slab of butter. He turned them in the pan to make sure they were all cooked. “Is he comin’ yet?” Doc said looking at the clock over the refrigerator.

“I think I see him!” Dickie said.

“Quick! Sit the table,” Doc said.

Dickie scurried to set the table before Chuck came through the front door. Chuck walked in the cabin and removed a red flannel jacket and hung it on a nail behind the door. He turned and smiled as he saw the table already set.

“Did Dickie do that?” Chuck smiled.

“Yep!” Dickie smailed.

“Well let’s sit down and eat,” Doc said.
Doc shoveled the potatoes into a bowl and put the hamburgers back on the skillet. He smashed them hard against the skillet with a spatula. The juice and grease oozed. Doc placed the potatoes on the table and then the skillet with the hamburgers still gurgling.

“Dig in,” Doc said. “Give Dickie a hand, Chuck.”

Doc and Chuck folded a slice of bread. Dickie watched and did the same. Doc and Chuck dipped the bread in the grease in the skillet and swirled it around to soak as much grease as possible.

“Go ahead, boy,” Doc said. “It’s called sop and its good fer ya.”

Dickie swiped his bread in the sop and ate it. “That’s really good!”

“Sure is,” Chuck mumbled.

“That’s how we eat back in Kentuck,” Doc said.

They continued until all the sop was gone.

There was a certain pleasure to the meal; an old man looking after a dim-witted son, making certain he eats well, is looked after, and has companionship. Family, no matter how small - precious.

A few days earlier Dickie overheard Doc speaking with a neighbor, concerned that after his passing there would be no one to look after Chuck.

During the meal Dickie looked up from time to time to see the worry in Doc’s eyes. Even at Dickie’s young age he was aware that perhaps Doc was thinking this may be the last meal prepared by him for Chuck.

It was a warm and cozy cabin. It was a good meal. There was a certain reverence and importance with each bite. A meal that Dickie recalls to this day, but has come to realize there was nothing healthy about the meal, but at the same time there was something wonderful.