John is an acclaimed author. As he settles into fatherhood, he recalls meeting with his own estranged father, Eddie Lawson, thirty years ago. At his mother’s behest, John goes to the upscale restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh where his father waits tables. John is the only Black person in the room not serving meals. He waits nervously at the host stand, not sure if the white woman will seat him. Thankfully, his father’s co-worker Oscar Parker recognizes him and ushers him to a table with a friendly smile. When Oscar walks away he is again alone, swallowed by the vastness of the grand restaurant. He is struck by the stark whiteness of the glamorous patrons and starched table linens. Under his saucer, he notices thirty cents—a good bit of money in those days—and pockets it. He looks around to see if anyone notices. If a guest reports stolen money, he will surely be the first suspect. Just then, his father arrives at the table. The conversation is stilted, but John remembers the quiet joy of being together. After they eat, his father suggests that they see a movie. They settle on Across the Wide Missouri, a Western. Clark Gable splashes across the screen, sparring with Indians and romancing maidens in Technicolor. The actor’s suave masculinity reminds him of a photo booth strip of his parents as teenagers, grinning and so in love before everything went downhill. He remembers his father’s dwindling presence in their home, reduced to the sound of snoring and the scent of love from afar. Thirty years later, John hears his own son humming “Shenandoah,” the theme song from Across the Wide Missouri. He says he is performing it at his school’s Song Night, and asks his father to come. John doesn't go—he spends the night drinking with a Pulitzer-prize winning poet instead. He thinks about how his sons don’t know what that song means to him, partly because he won’t tell them. He wonders if their youthful ignorance will save them from heartbreak.