There was a pube in my eggs. Nappy, curled tight. Three link sausages, a piece of wheat toast, two eggs over easy, and the kink of a pubic hair for garnish. No parsley. I flicked it to the linoleum with my fork, grabbing a fresh utensil from the next booth. Its thickness and texture led me to believe that it came from a black person. Looking in the kitchen, there were none. Nope. Two plump white guys in greasy aprons. The lone waitress was probably Thai. Perhaps Vietnamese.
The saltshaker was smeared with syrup, streaks of dust clinging to it. I nibbled the toast. None of this was right anymore.
I’d been eating here for years, since way back. Back when my palate could decipher subtleties, and the food didn’t taste like twice broiled birdcage cardboard. This used to be a nice place. Not a chain. A nice place that would let you drop peanut shells on the floor, you know, for ambiance. The same waitress everyday, she’d always remember to bring me a cup of ice with my coffee. She was from Georgia. It used to be nice.
I remember the last home cooked breakfast I had before I started coming here. Many moons ago. A chili omelet with fried potatoes, my mother would make them every Saturday morning. I’d wait eagerly, laying out Tabasco and saltines. She’d smile while grating the cheese, coming over and giving me that last tiny sliver of cheddar, warm and pliable from her hands. I could see our old apartment from my seat. Each morning, I sat in this same booth, staring outward at it. Today the blinds were partially closed in the diner, sun too bright for that early. I could still see. Barely make out a hint of mildewed curtains covering our old kitchen window. Behind there used to be a huge gas stove. Charred crumbs and dead flies nestled deep down in the burners. I think there might have been a snail on the window.
It used to be real nice here. No vinyl tablecloths, only fresh white cotton, and you could drop your peanut shells on the floor. Ambiance.
After eating, I walked across the street and rummaged through the trash bins of an Indian Restaurant. It stank of spoiled yogurt and curry. With a handkerchief over my nose, it was bearable. One free hand to sort through everything. I found a smattering of vintage pornography, stained lightly with pomegranate juice. Probably from the turn of the century. These tawdry little postcards, they were just not right. Something was off, like a cruel joke they were playing from the past. They were too posed, women lifting up frilly dresses to expose furry crotches, the men with large handlebar mustaches, sock garters and bulging erections. They looked like they were having a conversation while fucking, like a casual chat over breakfast. It was off. They were talking about me, giggling refined little chuckles. The sepia toned man with the monocle and stiff dick. There were too many peacock feathers in the background, hundreds of eyes on me.
I didn’t like this, not a bit. I couldn’t smell the curry anymore, and felt something wet on my upper lip. My nose had begun to bleed, and I wasn’t in on the joke. This was off I thought. Yes. There were too many peacock feathers, and I realized I had forgotten to leave a tip. Fresh blood spotted my collar. No. This was not right at all. Not in the slightest bit.
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