Wednesday is food day on the blog, so I’ve included a recipe. I’m sorry, Pete — I intended to make Wednesdays all be Steffie stories, but she wouldn’t work today. Maybe tomorrow.
On the Spot
by Marian Allen
When Bethesda left the doctor’s office with a bandage the size of Cleveland taped to her face, the last thing she expected was to see anyone she knew. Although the doctor’s building was tucked into a side street not far from the travel agency where she worked, her coworkers would just be settling down to their morning tasks.
Manhattan was, as one of the kids used to say back in Kentucky, where she went to high school, a honkin’ big island. And she didn’t know anybody here, except her housemates in Queens.
She put a hand to her face. One tiny little cyst cut out, and they had to use a bandage that looks like half a boiled egg? Did they think a squatter was going to move into the hole, or what?
Eggs. Mmmmm. She hadn’t eaten before she came, since the thought of a shot in the face followed by wide-awake surgery had killed her appetite. It came roaring back now, pinching her gut and making her light-headed.
Maxie’s Breakfast All Day was just down the block. Busy, as always, but quick and good.
As she approached the counter, she realized how much she loved New York. Nobody would be staring at her, with Moby-Dick-the-great-white-whale lashed to her jaw with rolls of God’s stickiest tape. “Psychological space,” one of her housemates called it. “It’s like we solve the problem of overcrowding by living in parallel dimensions, where we have all the personal space we need.”
Maxie was working the grill this morning. “Hoit yeh toot’ or what? What can I get yeh?”
“Had that lump taken off my face. I’ll have two sausage links and one scrambled with mushrooms and cheese. Whole wheat, one piece, buttered.”
“Ah, dat li’l lump wan’t nuttin’. You shoulda seen my grampa. Carbunkle bigge’n my baby bruddeh.”
Maxie kept up the patter while he worked. He tossed a big handful of sliced mushrooms and the sausage onto the grill. Then he cracked the egg into a bowl, added a splash of milk, a sprinkle of salt, a feathering of marjoram, and beat it all with a fork. He poured that over the mushrooms, blanketed it with a drift of extra sharp cheddar cheese, and scraped, folded, and turned until it was mixed and melded into a solid but fluffy perfection.
The toast popped up. He ran it through a buttering machine that looked older than he was, slid everything onto a plate, and clanked it onto the counter along with an empty mug.
“Coffee’s where it always is. You take care o’ yerself. NEXT!”
She got her coffee, utensils, and paper napkins, scanned the room for an empty table, and saw him. It was probably a violation of a Manhattan code, but she stared.
It can’t be. It isn’t. It can’t be. Is it? It is!
She hadn’t seen Martin Baum for ten years, since junior year in high school, back in Kentucky. He sat behind her in Art Appreciation, made her heart flutter, motivated her to go to school every day, and ignored her everywhere but in class. In class, he leaned over her shoulder and whispered funny comments on the slides they were supposed to be studying. Then, when her dad had been transferred out of state, the dirty rotten bastard had tossed a note to her as her mother picked her up for the last time, saying he had had a crush on her all year.
Of all the egg joints in all the world, he walks into Maxie’s on the day I have a pillow taped to my head.
She sat with her back to him, nostalgic longing and freshened resentment as perfectly balanced as the flavors of Maxie’s scrambled eggs. If I just didn’t look like something out of the field hospital scene in Gone With the Wind. We could share a table and catch up. Assuming he even remembers me. At least he didn’t recognize me. I’m twenty pounds heavier than I was in junior year. Of course, five pounds of that is this bandage.
Opportunity lost. Again. Still, it cheered her to think of the fuss that wasn’t being made over her appearance, a fuss that would have been made back in Kentucky. Nobody was calling her a poor thing, strangers weren’t asking her what happened, sympathetic people weren’t telling her about relatives who had had that same surgery and died of complications.
So she didn’t get to reconnect with a boyfriend she never had. Small price to pay.
She almost spit out a mouthful of coffee when two big hands rested on her shoulders, a face filled her peripheral vision, and a familiar voice murmured,
“Hey, Van Gogh! You missed.”
Yeah, I had a small benign cyst removed yesterday. Came straight home and had a late breakfast of scrambled eggs. Everything is about writing.
MY PROMPTS TODAY: Spot remover, cyst removal
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