* All Day Breakfast
Yes, him. His wife passed on last spring, I heard tell. Moira down at the Safeway told me. She had a stroke more than a year ago and never recovered. How do you suppose he manages now on his own? Probably doesn't eat a proper meal anymore. How long do we have to sit before we get any service, anyway? Look at the mess on this table. I dare not put my arm down for fear I won't be able to pick it up again.
She wets a handkerchief from her pocket in the corner in her mouth, then wipes at a sticky spot in front of her.
Don't look at me like that, Gordon. They should be more conscious of what they are doing if they want to keep our custom. Sit up straight. You'll have a pain in your shoulders tonight if you don't try to keep your posture up. Not that I mind rubbing it out for you. What's a wife for if not to rub out the pain. But no point in tempting fate, I always say. Sit up and straighten your tie. It's all squint. I don't know what you'd do without me, honestly. Oh, here she comes.
Yes, Gordon will have the all day breakfast and I'll have toast and jam. Two slices, lots of butter, not margarine. And a pot of tea. Gordon will have white coffee, won't you Gordon. He shouldn't really be having such a big meal. His cholesterol was sky high the last time he was tested. But he is a man and men have to eat. It's not a meal without meat, is it Gordon?
Look at that, will you, Gordon. A black bra under a white blouse. You know what kind of girl wears a black bra under white? One that's up to no good, mind you! But what would you know about those things. You always have been an innocent, Gordon. God knows where you would be if I hadn't come along to rescue you from your dreams. Imagine, wanting to run a bookstore. How much money would you have made if I'd let you buy that bookstore with your mother's money? She knew what was good for you. She knew I was good for you and she knew I was right. You were much better off working in your dad's plastering business. You'll have work to do till you're in your grave. A job with some continuity, that. Too bad your dad died when he was fifty. You never know about those things, do you? Well, at least you have Jake to take over for you someday when he gets out of college.
God knows why he would want to waste his time with all of those cinematography courses when he has a place waiting for him in a successful plastering business. Kids. I know he says he wants to go to America, but that's just his youth talking. He'll get that all out of his system and be back before you know it. That is if he isn't snagged by some sweet young thing wearing a black bra under a white blouse. He was always a little on the wild side. I don't know where he gets that. You never paid any attention to other women. Did you Gordon. Gordon?
Is that a hoop in her belly button? That's disgusting I say. Look at the way it just snakes into the folds and disappears kind of. What kind of tramp would have her body pierced through with objects? Only one kind. One that's up to no good, mind you. Brenda, from the Oxfam, she says that girl has a two-year-old daughter. And her not married. And working as a waitress. What kind of mother works when she has a child to look after? And no husband. And a ring in her navel. Up to no earthly good, I tell you.
Eat your eggs, Gordon, before they get cold. You know how much you hate cold eggs. Why did you let her bring grilled tomatoes when you know you won't eat them? You've got to learn to speak up, Gordon. You could’ve had an extra bit of something else instead for the same price.
The black pudding looks a bit on the dry side. Do you suppose they save what people don't eat and serve it to someone else? Stir it up if your not going to eat it, Gordon, so they can't serve it to someone else. Are you going to eat that soda farl? I'll eat it if you don't want it. And a bit of the bacon, too, if you don't mind. I do prefer the streaky bacon, but that will do nicely. Sit up, Gordon. And wipe that egg off your face. You look a right fright. People will think I don't look after you properly.
The girl with the black bra walked up to the woman behind the register and whispered to her.
"See the wee man over there? There, the all day breakfast with extra toast and jam. He's been finished for more than half an hour, yet he just stares out the window at the pigeons."
"Gordon? His wife passed on last spring, I heard tell from Moira down at the Safeway. She had a stroke more than a year ago and never recovered."
"Poor thing. How do you suppose he manages now on his own?"
* In Scotland the ubiquitous "all day breakfast" is a heart attack on a plate and usually contains two eggs, a rasher of bacon (more like Canadian bacon than what Americans eat which is known as streaky bacon), a slice of Lorne (square, pink, salty and fat sausage), a black pudding (blood sausage, usually deep fried), potato scones or soda farls (a fried bread), barbecued beans and grilled tomato wedges.
Carrie Berry left a technical career in the US six years ago in order to pursue a life conducive to writing in Scotland. She has completed one novel with two others in the works. Short stories and poetry divert her when she is not absorbed in working on her web site: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/fandango.virtual/