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A Trevanian Tale

July 6th, 2008 by jomo

Before Trevanian, the writer, became thusly known, I knew him as Rod Whitaker and he taught film production at the University of Texas in Austin, where I was one of his graduate TAs. One day he, and I and another TA went to lunch at a barbeque joint housed in a tarpaper and plywood shack on the south end of the Weigl Brothers Iron Works down on Red River, known appropriately as The Shanty.

Inside, we placed our orders. Rod had either already eaten, or had decided that he didn’t care to eat whatever The Shanty was serving, so he ordered only coffee. The service person put utensils and stuff on the counter for us to take to our picnic bench table – one of the things was a coffee cup full of barbeque sauce. We were talking about a project, and we took our stuff, still talking, and Rod took the coffee cup. We continued to talk as we seated ourselves, and I was watching Rod as he started to put cream into his “coffee.” When he looked down, teaspoon poised, into the greasy barbeque sauce, a look crossed his face which told me that his direst suspicions about The Shanty’s fare had been confirmed. Rod was a cool customer, and he said nothing about the appearance of his coffee, rather just pushed the cup aside, returning to the conversation. After Richard and I got our orders, with a certain amount of devilish glee, I asked Rod to pass me the barbeque sauce.

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