Page 12 - POTB Issue 11
P. 12

Daniel Does Lunch

               He turned away and began to assemble Daniel’s lunch, oiling the hotplate,
               immersing the hissing chips, wiping a smear of margarine across the inside of a
               roll.  Daniel stirred two large spoonfuls of sugar into the tea and made his way to
               the table.  If the occupants of the other tables thought him an odd customer they
               hardly lifted their heads to acknowledge him.  He stared out of the window, sipping
               the scalding liquid and watching the cat still scavenging around the bin.  The youth
               appeared beside him holding a steaming mug in one hand and a plate with a roll
               in the other.  Out of his top pocket he pulled a spoon in a paper serviette.

               “Mind, it’s hot,” he warned.

               Daniel suddenly thought of his last visit to Marco’s and the waiter who had brought
               scarcely warm soup: Flageolet Bean and Leek Potage.  Inedible.  His name on his
               apron (Marco’s whim) was Aaron.  Supercilious prat:  “It’s supposed to be served
               warm, sir.”  That slight emphasis; that emphatic sneer.

               “What’s your name?” Daniel asked.  The youth stared at him.  Daniel smiled.

               “Billy.”  He wasn’t keen.  He still suspected an official.

               “Thank you, Billy.  It smells very good,” Daniel said, tucking the paper serviette
               under his chin.

               “I’ll fix your chips,” Billy said, moving away.

               Daniel sipped the salty soup with pleasure.  Something in the taste spoke of bacon
               ends but the hot rich mixture of vegetables and flavourings, coating the bread
               lumps he dipped into it, restored to him a well-being he hadn’t felt for years.  He
               thought of a Japanese businessman he’d lunched with a week before who had
               carried to the table a small sprinkler of white powder, which he poured over each
               expensive course.  Eyebrows had been raised.  He had laughed.

               “Monosodium glutamate!  Your food, to me, tastes of nothing.”

               He discovered tears in his eyes and thought it was the heat of the soup.  Billy
               was back just as he finished with a plate brimming with hot thick chips and a roll
               stuffed with bubbling burger and a frill of oily onions pouring over the side.  A
               pool of beans curved round the roll, dampening the bottom.

               Daniel sighed deeply.  He sniffed.

               “Is it OK?” Billy asked, confident it was.

               “Mmmm…  Smells lovely,” Daniel confirmed.

     10                                                     Pushing Out the Boat 11
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