Elite Meet to Eat
by Marc Shapiro
The guy stood outside the new Cuban place. It was still not open yet and was two months behind schedule. But that did not stop him from badmouthing the competition down the street, a hole in the wall, which always seemed to be open.
“Old people, druggies, and losers hang out there,” he said coping his own third world attitude. But I was hungry and his place was light years from opening. So I walked down the street and joined the old people, the druggies, and the losers for lunch.
It’s hard to screw up a burrito and they didn’t. All blackened chicken and oozing beans with everything hot, spicy, and hardening of the arteries inducing thrown in for good measure. Toss in a Sprite, no ice, and I was good to go.
Sat in the back…
Where a middle aged black dude was mumbling into something that resembled eggs and toast, while his squeeze de jour was on her cell, turning her mundane life into something she most certainly felt was ghetto fabulous as Bob Marley escaped from something audio in her purse and into the air.
An elderly white couple walked in. He was alternately attentive and verbally abusive. She sat oblivious at a table while he ordered up two number two’s with fries and milk, yelling some more at his woman as he slid their plates down. They had food in front of them that was a heart attack in the making. But they were hungry and they were old and they didn’t care.
The guys from the Metro yard hunched over everything on the menu with chili. No surprise here. Gas would kick in and heartburn would follow shortly. They were content, knowing that the lethal combination would keep the trains running ’til the end of their shift.
Mexicans smiled a lot and ate in silence. Everybody now seemed to be ordering what the Mexicans ordered. Because they knew the Mexicans knew the score.
The burrito hit a home run. I knew I would be sorry later but right now I was in heaven. Out the door and into the day. No one tried to sell me crack, bum some change, or bore me to death about the good old days. It was just about a bunch of human beings getting through lunch, getting through the day and getting through life.
And the Cuban place was still not open.
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Marc Shapiro is the literary equivalent of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This story is more on the Mr. Hyde side. Who he is as Dr. Jekyll will keep you up nights.