The waitress, a Daisy Hazzard lookalike, has found a way to synchronise her questions with my full mouth.
Breakfast in a Southern style diner on 45th Street
"How is everything, sir?"
Then two minutes later: "More coffee?"
"You enjoyin' that?"
Outside, a street fair stretches all the way up to 59th. New Yorkers walk around with pretty little kids that look like they were hired for the occasion. Manhattan apartments are so small, most people keep their children in storage.
"Where's little Jimmy?"
"BetterBoxes, South Bronx. Samantha?"
"She's with her grandmother. - Two-for-one deal with HideyHole Inc."
And the waitress returns.
"You doin' okay?"
I'd like to tell her about the bad knees and the dodgy hip and the overall feeling of hopelessness and ennui, but she's gone before I swallow. She drifts away to another table and lets loose a "Hi guys!". - Scrambled egg, grits and southern biscuit get sputtered across the condiments.
I'm listening to conversations. A sad young man who looks like Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause, sits with a fork poised over a plate of deep fried chicken. His companion sips a Bellini and says, "I'm not good with relationships, per se." Or did he say Percy? - Percy looks at his plate and says, "this chicken is obscene" and I imagine a fellating chicken. A chicken doing a Lenny Bruce routine. A chicken making a hand gesture: The chicken finger. - Percy seems concerned by the way I'm staring at his plate.
Meanwhile, an elderly woman with bright orange hair and a pink jacket sits in the window. The sunlight streams in from the Avenue and makes her look like cheap confectionary. She has a heavy gold chain around her neck with links the size of bottle caps. In the middle is a padlock. A big gold padlock. I imagine her chained up in a yard, barking at the mailman. She turns to her friend, a woman with a man's haircut, and says "it was just like Camelot". But I get the sense she has no idea what Camelot was. It might have been a place where you parked your dromedary.
The waitress leaves me a bill with a smiley face circled in the upper right corner. It's a weird smiley face with just one eye in the middle. A smiley Cyclops. I'd like to ask her about it, but she's no longer interested in conversation, now that my mouth is empty.