Wednesday May 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
He lit another cigarette, waving away the match, dropping it into his half-empty coffee cup. His way of signalling that breakfast was over. Through the window traffic moved in lines along the freeway, the table criss-crossed by shadow.
– Everything in this town is small. The chair is small, the tables are small. The fucking bathroom is small. You shouldn’t be able to take a piss and wash your hands in the same footprint. That’s a rule.
As he smoked, I noticed that his other hand trembled slightly. Beside it, on the table cloth, an orange-juice stain.
– And the country so big…
– Exactly. Maybe the smallness is a reaction to it. Maybe they are intimidated. Maybe all this space keeps them small.
Silently the waiter, a middle-aged black man in a maroon waistcoat, clears away the dishes. When he has gone, Denis says:
– These people seem intimidated to you?
They don’t, not particularly. I shrug noncommittally and say nothing.
– I have to use the bathroom.
I sit for five minutes in the hire-car while he uses the bathroom. One by one I shake out the drinks bottles that are in the foot-well. The empty ones I throw out of the window. It is hot out here on the bleached forecourt and it’s not even ten am. I try the radio but all the stations are tuned to country. Looking out, the grass, where it exists along the fringes of the city, beside the parched boulevards, and between the denuded lines of the freeway, is blanched and dead. The only thing missing is vultures.
I see Denis walking over in the rear-view, cigarette still hanging from his bottom lip. Wordlessly he falls into the back seat. Under his arm he has with him a stack of newspapers, which he starts reading immediately.
Reversing across the empty lot, it takes nearly a minute to rejoin the freeway.