The Train

Instead Robert gets the profile. A kid, really. The acne-scarred neck and the sharp Adam’s apple. There’s shaving cream nested in his ear, pink nicks on his chin. The kid radiates impatience. Over his shirt collar. Out from his arm pits. Ammoniac, rushing.

She smiles at this man, too, and he smiles back, perspiring, sweaty. The drops are there in lush beads clinging to his hairline, too big, like tap water delivered on the tips of spoons. His Rosemary-admiring bobbing head shakes them loose…

“Get this guy a check, will yah? He’s over here building a train for Christ’s sake.”

“Lewis!”

The name booms from the cook. Shouted into the eggs. He’s got one spatula’d hand pressing a sausage patty into the sizzling grill and when he says “Lewis” the meat hisses.

“Don’t curse in my restaurant. You wanna curse, go outside.”

“We’re just waiting for the check,” Rosemary tells the cook.

She smiles at this man, too, and he smiles back, perspiring, sweaty. The drops are there in lush beads clinging to his hairline, too big, like tap water delivered on the tips of spoons. His Rosemary-admiring bobbing head shakes them loose and they cascade down to eyebrows, the survivors down to cheeks, and the one winner, the one still robust drop, nestles into the corner of the cook’s mouth where his tongue captures it.

“Disgusting,” says Lewis.

“Lewis!”

The cook rakes a forearm across his face.

“Sit, already. You wanna sit in that man’s lap? You think eggs taste better on that stool?”

There’s a smattering of laughter from the counter punctuating the din. One man flapping the leaves of his newspaper, pushing the noise away. The old lady on the far side of the counter, pink tissues clenched in her left hand, a fork and drippy fried eggs speared in the right — she’s watching now. Dinner theatre at the lunch counter. Lewis cast in the role of Lead Pip-squeak. Robert looks at the empty stool to his left and then up at Lewis, hovering. His foot is inched under the counter, too close, like he’s offering a spare appendage.

“I think she wants to know what’s next. What’s in the bag.”

Rosemary has leaned into him, her warm mouth near his ear, but it’s mixed in with the swishing of Lewis as he claims the stool. The air is acrid for a second and he worries she’ll think the smell is coming from him.

But Rosemary’s not even looking at him. She’s smiling at the lady with the tissue, who smiles back over her fork, white fragments of egg all stacked up neat and quivering. The woman gestures at them with her egg pieces, eyes watery, eyebrows arched.

Robert has an audience. He’s a man with a beautiful woman. A man playing with toys. He pierces the tip of Atomic! with a fork and the glue surges out, a clear wispy bridge of plastic between left and right hand. He’d like to spend an hour gluing cups to the counter, napkins to the wall, wait for the old woman to stop watching. Wait for Lewis to stop watching, but he reaches into the bag and pulls out the figure.

Page 4 of 9 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 View All

Printed from Cerise Press: http://www.cerisepress.com

Permalink URL: http://www.cerisepress.com/02/04/the-train

Page 4 of 9 was printed. Select View All pagination to print all pages.