Page 10 - POTB Issue 11
P. 10

Daniel Does Lunch

               He knew what to do then.  He walked towards the river and the taxi ranks and
               found the place he wanted by smell – frying onions.  Sam’s Caff.  Menu and prices
               on a dusty blackboard propped up in the window beside a picture of a plate of
               steaming fish and chips.  Wilting petunias in a window box struggling under a
               tiling of ketchup-smeared polystyrene trays.  A greasy cat, lurking by the bin and
               its tumbled contents, smirked at Daniel, one paw trapping a paper flecked with

               “Hello, Puss.”  He offered a hand.  The cat arched and hissed at him, the claws of its
               free paw clenching on the concrete with a rasping sound, the other firmly fixed on
               its lunch.  Daniel smiled.  “I’ll get my own, shall I?” he said as he passed the cat and
               went through the open door.

               A veil of cigarette smoke floated across the Formica tables and bentwood chairs.
               At the counter a glass cabinet was stacked with white rolls, pies and pasties; an urn
               steamed relentlessly beside it.  A large pan of oily onion slices writhed on a hot
               plate next to another with pale orange beans.  A spotted youth swathed in dirty
               whites stood wielding a soup-coated ladle.  He looked hard at Daniel, wondering
               who he was and what his business was.

               Daniel looked at the youth then at the blackboard behind him:

               Hot Dogs’n’Chips
               Bacon Butty
               Sam’s Home-Made Soup
               Rolls (ask for fillings).

               Scribbled in less careful letters at the bottom was:

               Vegetarian: Cheese (sorry no fish today), squeezed out of blackboard space by:
               Today’s choice: Curry’n’Chips or in a Roll.

               Daniel considered carefully exactly what he wanted.  Having realised that Daniel
               was reading the menu, the youth’s mouth hung open in dread.  Was he from
               the Environmental?  Health and Safety (better not let him see the bacon and
               everything-else slicer)?  He stood in front of the offending machine.

               “What kind of burgers are they?” Daniel asked.

               The youth stared at him.  “What’s in the burgers?” Daniel repeated.

                “Meat,” the youth offered.

     8                                                      Pushing Out the Boat 11
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