I woke up with a Kodak moment in my guts. The sun was shining bright, harsh, with a gauze on a wound sparkle that I had not experienced in what seemed like centuries. Yes, I am alive again in a modern age, but I come to this place from such a long time ago. I know it makes no sense, but I believe it has something to do with reincarnation or resurrection after a long metabolic pause. Something akin to those little creatures the Russians sent to space to test their toughness against solar radiation and the chill of the star soup — the tardigrades.
But I am not a water bear or a moss piglet — I’m some kind of an altered human being sitting on a red vinyl stool pad connected to a silver pole in a diner that itself is silver and red and all the waitresses are made to wear pink uniforms and heavy lipstick in order to replicate some slice of time when they actually did do those things on Earth.
I looked down and there was coffee in a white cup on the counter. I reached a trembling hand to grasp it and lift it to my waiting mouth. I could smell bacon and wet eggs cooking. I could hear the clink and clank of dishes, the liquid voices of cooks and busboys scrambling about upon the Astro vinyl and stainless steel of the universe. I looked up at a clock on the wall and the numbers were all out of order. The 9 was where the 12 was supposed to be, the 3 was where the 7 was supposed to be… and so on and so on all messed up like that.
I wondered if I was perhaps invisible or maybe in a dream. I raised a hand to get the attention of a raven-haired waitress with a Garden of Evil apple mouth and eyes that glowed orange like ripe fire. “What’s it going to be then, heh? What’s your pleasure, Johnny Oh?” she said when she noticed me.
I wasn’t invisible after all. “A proper breakfast served in an improper way,” I said, and then for some reason I laughed like I was out-of-control high on grass. I brushed something away from my silver suit.
She looked at me like I was the strangest man on Earth which I probably was. She leaned in and shook her chest at me. “You mean like this… With my tits up in your face?” She withdrew and scowled, then suddenly smiled when a menacing busser the size of an ancient Malta giant brushed by her from behind and palmed her backside. “Ooooh,” she squealed. “Knock it off, Rapture Jones. I’ll report you to the boss for ass grabbing.”
I reached into my pack and pulled out a book with a shabby cover. I put on some Welsh readers and began to flip through the pages as if I was in a library instead of a silver and red diner in the downtown sector of Pandemonium Linear North. It’s a place like on the far outskirts of London but in perhaps a false reality; it was a different planet or maybe even a dream, someone else’s dream. Jennifer’s dream? It was hard to keep track of anymore these days. My life recently has resembled fizzing chemistry and often bright colored clouds of magic and it almost seems like yesterday that I was riding my horse through the dismembered town of Van Norton that lies on the shores of the great Sahara Sea. I suddenly felt sand in my teeth, and I took a big gulp of the coffee from the white cup. I felt the grit slide through the valleys of my soul.
The waitress slid a large, white, oval plate in front of me. The food looked wonderful. I set the book aside. She took interest. “What are studying, Johnny Oh?”
I removed the Welsh readers and looked up at her. “It’s a book about the most beautiful woman in the world. Her name is Jennifer, and she spends most of her life sleeping in a big bed high up in a castle that sits on a lonely hill overlooking an ocean. Some people think she’s actually a cat because she sleeps so much. But she’s not a cat. She’s a woman. A very beautiful woman.”
The waitress made a contorted face, and she wiped her hands on a white apron tied about her waist. “Doesn’t seem very exciting… I mean, reading a story about a woman who just sleeps. Don’t you have better things to do?”
I cut up some of the sausages and ruptured egg yolks with the pieces and then ate. She studied me as I worked my mouth and then swallowed. “It’s much deeper than that. It goes into her crazy dreams and her longing for real love. She has a very complicated mind.”
“But how does everyone know she is the most beautiful woman in the world if all she does is sleep and never go out?”
I took another bite of sausage dipped in warm yellow yoke. I wiped at my mouth with a paper napkin. I took a careful sip of the coffee. “It has something to do with blind faith,” I said to her in due time. I scooped up some beans. I gnawed on some mushrooms. I began to cut into a peppered tomato slice. “Wait a minute… I hate tomatoes. Why am I about to eat a tomato?”
The waitress scoffed at me. She shook her head. “You’re so weird, Johnny Oh. I might need to pass you off to someone else. I don’t think I can take you much longer.” She laughed in a teasing way. She scrunched her nose like something smelled bad but good as well and then she walked off.
I sat on a bench near a fountain in a park across the street from the red and silver diner that I mistakenly hadn’t told you had the name of The Oasis. The sun was bright, warm, brilliant, dazzling, nearly blinding. The growing heat of the day was beginning to make me fidget. Soft traffic ran along the street between the park and the diner. Tall, thin trees, like green hypodermic needles, lined the street on both sides. The street had the name of The Capshaw Veranda. Some quibbling birds gathered at my feet in anticipation of crumbs. “I’m sorry,” I said to them. “The only seeds I have seem to be locked away tight in my soul… Too far down for me to reach and toss out among your kind.”
A woman sitting with a young girl on the lip of the fountain’s circular stone wall leaned in and said to her: “That man must be crazy. He’s talking to himself, my dear. Don’t look over at him or he might get the wrong idea and follow us home. We don’t want that, now do we.”
I could hear her speaking perfectly. It was as if she were whispering the words in my very own ear, where the ocean roared. Then the young girl moved her mouth and said, “No, mama,” but then disobeyed her mother or aunt or legal guardian or whoever she was anyway. She glanced at me and halfheartedly smiled. The woman tugged on her arm. “What did I say!?” Then she slapped the girl’s face. The crack of the impact startled the birds at my feet to flight. The girl began to cry. A circus motorcade crawled along the street. People cheered. The girl asked if they could just leave the park and get a red balloon or maybe an ice cream. The woman stood and then reached down and yanked the girl to her feet. “Red balloons are a tool of the devil! Why can’t you ask for a golden balloon, girl. Golden balloons are the champagne blood flow of our universal god.”
The girl looked up at her. She rubbed the tears away from her face with a small fist. “The one that comes in the bright light in the sky at night… Oh, heavenly night?”
The woman went to her knees to be on an equal level with the girl. Her heart was suddenly heavy for being angry with her. “I’m sorry.” She kissed her forehead. “You’ve been seeing the ships again?” the woman asked.
“Yes, mama.” The girl turned and pointed right at me as I sat in wondering stillness there on the bench. “That’s when I saw him last time. He came out of the light. He’s following us after all.”
One thought on “A Proper Breakfast Though Alienated”
Sounds like the Jennifer character has the right idea, sleeping all the time. 😊