It’s been eight long years since I last saw Danielle. She boarded a decrepit Greyhound in Baltimore and sat right behind me.
Didn’t make small talk, not even eye contact. But she carried a sweet smile, and I could tell she had a warm personality.
A couple of boisterous dudes were cracking out jokes like it was a stand-up on wheels. Another guy was getting fresh with the unlucky lady next to him. She pitched a fit.
“Ok, just get up and sit someone else then. The rest of you punks – if I hear another peep out of you, I’m gonna pull over and drop you all off on the side of the road.”
The ruckus subsided, but still I didn’t get a lick of sleep.
At the transfer in St Louis, I joined the other backpackers crashing on the floor. I was headed to Joplin for tornado relief – I would need the rest.
Thankfully Danielle interrupted my siesta with her rendition of Keyshia Cole’s Love. She had a voice that could move mountains.
“You have a pretty smile and sing like a canary,” I complimented.
“Thank you, I’m trying. Maybe one day someone will pay to hear me sing.”
I got off at Joplin, MO to assist with the tornado relief. She continued to Oklahoma City. We lost touch over the years but then facebook found a way to reunite us.
“Wow, I’ve been looking all over for you.”
“Hi Danielle, haven’t spoken to you in years. What’s shaking?.”
“Yeah, it’s been a minute. I’m in Dallas now, out of work and behind on the rent. We’re getting evicted – the landlord wants me and Mom out ASAP,” she announced.
“Wow, that’s terrible. Can he give you some time to put some money together?”
“Nah, he’s a real prick, and he ain’t budging one inch.”
“Then what are your options for work?”
“I do have a job offer at the Amazon Fulfillment center off LBJ Freeway, but I need help watching my baby.”
“Well if you like I can bring you to DC. There’s plenty of work here, and I don’t mind helping out when I’m not driving.”
“Oh cool, but where would we stay?”
“I have an attic on Lebaum Street. There’s lots of space up there. There’s a futon, a dresser, even a itty bitty bathroom.”
“I’m not too familiar with DC. How’s the economy up there?”
“You haven’t been to the Beltway in eight years. This city is booming, you won’t recognize it. There’s plenty of work in the restaurant business.”
Since I was still waiting for my Landlord Tenant hearing with Ty Young from Wade Road, I had some time to kill before I got on the road.
Flights were cheap this time of the year. So I booked a one-way flight to Dallas to go get Danielle.
“Ok, I can rent an SUV and drive the three of us back to DC,” I said prior to boarding my flight. “It’s a 20 hour drive – we’ll split it up in three days.”
“Super, all my bags are packed. I’m ready to go.”
“And is your Mom onboard with this crazy plan?”
“Of course she is. She’ll move in with her bestie in San Antonio. She’s happy she won’t have to worry about taking care of me and the baby, no more.”
“Super, I’ll give you a call as soon as I land.”
“Looking forward to seeing you. Can’t wait.”
But then when I arrived at DFW International, Danielle no longer was picking up the phone. I wasn’t surprised that she was having second thoughts, but at least she would let me know what her concerns were.
Before I rented an SUV one-way to DC, I had to get confirmation from her that she had not changed her mind. So I decided to kill some time at the local USO.
Retired military are allowed to visit the lounges to get free food, coffee, books in a quiet and safe environment. Some USOs even have cots and La-Z-Boys to take a nap. I always enjoyed meeting service members and their families and to see how the military was treating them.
Waited a couple hours. Still she was on the fence and was avoiding my calls.
So, I checked into the Super 8 and would call her in the morning. Dead silence. I was starting to worry.
Perhaps she had changed her mind. I would no longer rent an SUV one way to Washington, DC. – it was too long of a drive in the first place.
Instead, I rented a Dodge Charger from Dollar for a few days. I would hang out in Texas, maybe drive to Waco and then fly home on Spirit.
But, I wasn’t giving up this easily. Danielle had given me her address so I decided to visit her. I drove to the suburban park apartments in Irving, found her unit and tapped on the door, hoping she had given me the right address.
Her mother answered the door.
“Is Danielle home?”
“Sure, come on in,” she said.
“It’s great to see you – didn’t think you would actually make it.”
“I’m a man of my word, but why didn’t you answer my calls when I landed.”
“I just got busy. I got a couple of house calls braiding hair,”
“Well, I’m glad you picked up some side hustles, but that doesn’t stop you from calling me back.”
“Yeah, I know, guess I’m just getting cold feet.”
“Ok, that’s cool, but the best time to waver would be before I got on the plane.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry for being indecisive. I do appreciate you coming all the way down here, though.”
“No worries. say let’s grab some dinner, shall we?”
Had a nice dinner with Danielle and Davina at Bangkok Orchid
Danielle had the Penang curry – it was the bomb!
I ordered the Drunken Noodles with shrimp – 3 peppers out of 5 and boy those juicy Thai peppers were hotter than the engine exhaust pipes. I had to order a 20 ounce glass of Singha just to put out the flames. No wonder they call these noodles drunken
“So why did you get cold feet?”
“You know, I’m used to North Texas weather. Not used to frost and snow. Davi is gonna freeze. Lemme think about it.”
“Fine, I’m gonna drive south to Waco. On the way back pls lemme know if you change your mind. If not, I’ll just fly home to DC.”
“Ok, either way, I’m still gonna need a place to stay – me and the baby.”
“What if I can’t find a job”
“You can work for me until you do,” I replied. “You can help me add restaurants to RUNINOut”
I took Danielle to Golden Chick to show her. “We visit restaurants to confirm their information on Google, take a 360 picture with my Ricoh camera, then add their profile to my website.
My first stop was in Waco, the home of Baylor University.
Who hasn’t heard about this town. It gained infamy from the Branch Davidian – it is a where a part of America’s heart and soul died. The ATF issued a search warrant for illegal weapons to arrest David Koresh, their leader. The raid resulted in a shootout resulting in the death of four agents.
As a result the FBI took siege of the property for 51 days resulting in a tank and tear gas assault resulting in the death of 76 Branch Davidians.
I stopped at El Charro Tapatio
I had Mexican breakfast of eggs, beans and potatoes with corn tortilla. The table next to me ordered the flautas. There’s a nice size patio, albeit on a busy street, and I was impressed by the decor and traditional color scheme. Even Chip and Joanna Gaines would be proud.
On the way back, I called Danielle.
“I really want go to DC with you, but right now I’m just scared,” she said.
“No worries, I’ll fly home – I have landlord tenant issues to take care. If you change your mind, let me know.”