Sitting down he felt vague shame. He had only seen what he expected to see. Part of him wanted to apologize to the girl with the gray ponytail for being so blind and willing to accept his prejudices. His lie was morning shifts are for old women and he had made her into his biased truth. She was cute. And right. The fried chicken was killer. It had an unidentified kick to it, not cayenne, could be Cajun. Extra napkins lay spent on the table. He was fat and happy as his mother would say unkindly. Making fat and happy a negative was part of her plan to cut all the happy out of life. How she had come to be the rain on every parade escaped him. It was who she had always been, he had known no different and couldn’t imagine it. That bruising, unhappy control was what had made the family work and fail all at once. Paradox has been his state of being for a long, long time.
Cherry pie for dessert seems a cliche’ but he goes for it anyway, the crust on top looks like a long, twisted pie of dough wound in a spiral from the center out. It’s hypnotic in its own way, the kind of thing you’d hold up and spin behind the basket as the opposing team takes a free throw. Simple yet complex. Kind of thing Pop would appreciate. Looks wickedly engineered but in the end…not so much. They do have a Billy the Knife, so…do they have a Penny the Pastry Chef? Betty the Baker? Crocker the Pie Hawker? Dan, Dan the Pastry Man? Oh hell, he was fat and happy. Good food after a good ride. There was suddenly a growing gravity. A thing. A place. A comfortable corner.
The ride back to the motel was in darkness. Watching for eye-shine a traveling slower than he would in the daylight he was cold by the time he was back in his room. The room was cold and the air conditioner/heater rattled when he turned up the heat. Going to sleep was easy and tonight he dreamed.