Monday, July 13, 2009

Obscure Nachos

It happens to us all every so often, I am sure: the nachos, which always seemed so straightforward, so crispily salty and tasty, suddenly become obscure.

You push the basket away, whether from surfeit or some generalized dysgeusia and look around. There's grease on your fingers, crumbs in your lap; you stare in disbelief at the failed appetizer. Would some salsa help ? Una cerveza ? You look around: the waiter has disappeared.

So you get up and head out into the street. There is precedent to this going forth but you can't quite recall the details. No matter. You are looking for something, but what ? Wontons ? Papadum ? Saltines ?

The street is, of course, dark and empty and vaguely familiar, like the memory of a street in a dream. You sit on a bench under a streetlight and wait. The light flickers out.

What, then, are you waiting for ? A bus ? Godot ?

It strikes you that the essential element of waiting, time, is absent. So much for the "waiting for" question. What else is gone ? Air ? Gravity ? But you are breathing, and your buttocks have not floated free from the slats of the bench.

And you are hungry. Odd, after all those nachos.

After awhile you get up from the bench and head down the sidewalk. A bus roars past, covered in bright signage. You get a fleeting glimpse of words -- GRAB, HELP -- before the night swallows it up like a nacho. You decide to take a nap. As you curl up in a shadowy doorway, head to cement, you recall a song, something about doors and gates, something about lifting up their heads. It never made much sense to you, and makes even less sense now.

There is something about sense that has never made much sense to you, you recall as sleep overtakes you, overwhelms you.

When you awaken you have not dreamed and it is not morning. There is no question of toast.

Nonetheless, you clear your throat and try to make a sound.

What comes out startles you. You clamp your hand over your mouth. It is too late. There it is, at your feet squirming like a slug or a larva, naked and obscene and lily-white. It looks up at you with a look that can only be described as imploring.

You flee.

Running, you wonder: is this allergy ? nightmare ? retribution ? an unsolicited phone call from the chimney sweep d'antan ?

You have no idea. Which is refreshing. You run faster. You are running, in fact, like the wind. In fact, you like the wind ! And you would like to swear something, anything, on a stack of burning Bibles.

But not until you've had breakfast.

You stop, not in the least out of breath, and look around. Across the street see a faded sign: Taqueria. It looks oddly familiar. Have you come full circle ?

You see a familiar waiter in the window. The solicitous one who always forgives you when you stiff him.

You cross the street. This time the nachos will be light, crispy. This time you will leave a big tip.

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