The King of Possum Trot sat in exile overlooking I-35. His foldable throne creaked a little as he leaned forward to watch his once and future subjects commute home from work. Traffic was heavy and slow.
“When I have returned to my power, the Province of Liberty shall be remembered for granting me sanctuary in my time of need,” the King announced to no one in particular.
Spring was arriving with the substance of warmth hoped for, the evidence of life not yet seen. The King of Possum Trot could smell spring and all of its portents on the breeze sweeping gently across the highway and up the hillside. In addition to promise and prophecy, the wind brought the scent of barbecue smoking from a strip mall storefront facing the highway below him.
The King still had a $20 bill from his time on the Plaza a few days prior. Called by the scent and the cars of his people, he folded his throne with the sports logo and slung the strap over his shoulder. He rolled his third-hand sleeping bag and stashed it in his stained and torn backpack. Then he drew himself up to his full height to march down the hillside to his dinner.
The best Kansas City barbecue joints level us all, at least for a short time. Princes and paupers of all races and creeds stood patiently in the line, not even knowing that the King of Possum Trot waited with them. He smiled, both because he loved his subjects and because the brisket and pork smelled so good.
After a wait for his name to be called out at the counter, he took his worthy meal to a small table in the rear. The King ate his meat, beans, and fries (a nod to culinary modernity) in the crush of humanity, the early spring cold gathering quickly outside where the traffic had thinned to a sparser stream of faster moving cars than he’d watched from his perch above.
He lingered at his table in the back corner after he was finished, soaking up the companionship that fills a building of strangers enjoying meals together. He surveyed the room with contentment. Near the door there was a young couple with two very young, very blond daughters and a tiny baby wrapped in a sky blue blanket. In the back corner near the King a couple on a date spoke in only Spanish; the King didn’t understand the words they spoke, but he understood the sentiment in their glowing eyes and brushing fingertips.
Most of all, the King appreciated the proprietor and pit master of the establishment. He loomed over the modern feast hall as the evening rush faded, with his dark, strong arms folded over his sweat-stained t-shirt. The King recognized nobility when he saw it. From the scars on his hands and the strong arms going softer with age, the King knew that the Lord of the Establishment had faced doubters while he traveled the path to his own destiny. Yet, the man stood there between the kitchen and the dining room as living proof of the power of belief.
The King cleared his plate, took up his bag and throne, and set off into the chilling night, confident that destiny would find him at last.