SAN ANTONIO 7am – Holiday Inn Express
The lifeless men in the little lobby restaurant are eating breakfast. No, that’s untrue. Unfair. Not lifeless; their lives are elsewhere. They sit in the restaurant eating their grown up children’s cereal for breakfast while simultaneously staring up at the wall-mounted TV – all four of the men, each at separate tables, their heads in the same position – looking upward – the angle of their necks proportional to the distance of their cafe table from the screen.
This is travel for work.
Imagine the clumsy logistics of getting into your room while carrying two yogurts, a coffee, utensils, napkins and a bowl of manufactured cheese-stuffed eggs and an indescribable, curiously consistent meat patty product. This with no tray. Only a bumbling jumble of maneuvering.
This is work.
Inside, the morning news on the TV in Spanish. Weather in the neighboring state of Mexico. Next door neighbor, really; kin. Might as well be part of the Union. Check the day’s calendar and finish the task with a widening of the eyes. Finish yogurt and proceed to…it.
What is lifeless is the sausage patty. One assumes it is teeming with energy and life to nourish the body and give the brain a chemical lift to confront the day, but it is not. It is dead pig parts bleached to a shade of deceptive neutrality, its mimetic chant of yumminess triggering happy places in the brain – a faint rekindling of those moments way back when, when such a lifeless, slightly peppery thin slab of porky pig was a treat, instead of mere necessity.
As for the eggs, one can easily enough undo the simple robotic folding of the whipped egg product and scrape the toxic cheese out. It plops out more or less easily and neatly, never minding the oily residue it leaves behind on the egg-like construction. A bit of cheese remains, however – morning eyes don’t see it. There are no alarms to warn you. Its human fatlike consistency and irreal shade of orange evade detection. One bite of the contaminated egg and your gag reflex kicks in. Coffee. Hurriedly. Now. Drink. To wash away your sins – past, present, and unexpected.
Tomorrow: perhaps cereal downstairs with the old men.