Bud is never far from my mind. He thinks I have a crush on him, but it’s more that “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” thing. I’ve featured Bud on this blog before, but I realized I’ve never excerpted the first mention of him, at the beginning of “Blossom on the Water”.
I collected a book full of Bud stories, to which I might add the latest, which appeared in the multi-author anthology, THE CORNER CAFE: A TASTY COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES.
Anyway, here’s about Bud:
~ * ~
I knew Bud from the cradle up. Of course, everybody knew Bud–only Chinese guy in a town the size of Shepherds, Indiana–everybody’s bound to know him. Had the best restaurant in town, too, though I guess that’s not saying much.
Bud wasn’t really Chinese, of course. I mean, he looked Chinese, but he was an American–at least, we all guessed he was: He dressed like an American, and he talked like an American, and you know what they say about ducks. His name was Bud Blossom, and us kids thought that was pretty funny.
He said his real name was Chinese, but it meant something like “bud” and “blossom” and if you laughed he’d tell you what your name meant. That was okay if it was, like, “manly” or even “ruler of the home,” but if it was “bald” or “pea field”–well, we got to where we left him alone about his name.
I asked my Dad once how long Bud had been around, and Dad said, “He come down here from New York in 1957. They said he walked into the bank with a wad of cash on him that would choke a mule. Never said where he got it. We always figured he stole it. Thought somebody might come after him for it, but they never did, so we stopped thinking it. He opened that place of his on Cherokee Creek, and he’s been here ever since.”
Cherokee Creek ran right through town–if you can call 5,000 people a town. The “creek” was nearly a river, a tributary of the Ohio; it was too wide to jump and too deep to wade, especially above the reservoir east of town. Bud’s restaurant was on a houseboat up at the docks, with some tables inside and some tables outside under a red-and-yellow striped canopy.
It was named The Golden Lotus, but everybody called it Bud’s. My Mom and Dad had their first date there. After I was born, they took me with them. It was that kind of a place–a little bit ratty, so it didn’t matter if your kids chewed on the booth backs. Sold chop suey, chow mein, fried rice, egg rolls, fried chicken, steak, slaw, fish, baked potatoes, and hamburgers.
Lots of times I would walk up there after school if nobody was going to be home and kill some time with Bud. He’d work me while we talked, but I didn’t mind working for Bud. Sometimes we’d fish, dropping lines over the side of the restaurant.
“Freshest fish possible,” he would say at least once while we were reeling them in. “Caught off the side of the boat they’re served in. Can’t get fish fresher than that.”
“That’d be true, if you served ’em now, but we’re going to clean ’em and freeze ’em. Might as well have ’em flown in from China or Mexico.”
He never would admit to that–always claimed his fish was fresh caught. That was Bud.
~ * ~
THE KING OF CHEROKEE CREEK, folks. One thin dollar and a little less than one other thin dollar. $1.49, in other words, for six stories, including some about Bud, some about his employees, and one about a dragon.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Two characters go fishing.