Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Remains of the Day

He sits just outside the door of the restaurant, in the cool of the afternoon shade. His chef's hat has deflated from a morning spent leaning over the stoves. It sags on his head and leans to the left. In his lap is a bowl of fruit salad, left overs from lunch, the colours all mixing and matching and swilling in juice. He picks at the fruit with his freshly washed fingers, dropping it piece by piece into his mouth as he watches the world strolling by. His apron is soiled and his boots are caked with old batter, and he pulls the hat from his sweaty head and welcomes the coolness that hugs his damp hair. 

His shift finished an hour ago but he waits, glancing occasionally at his watch. An old dog crosses the lane and sniffs at his boot and he shoos him away with his foot. The crowd comes in waves down the lane, the random late diners stopping by for the spoiled lunchtime special. He closes his eyes for a moment, and drops a grape in his mouth. He bites down hard and feels the tang of the juice as the fruit-like flesh explodes in his mouth. As he savours the moment he hears the cry of a child.
He opens his eyes and running toward is a small boy, his arms outstretched and his face wearing a smile equally as wide. The boy leaps onto his lap, the bowl of fruit upturning and smashing against the pavement. He struggles against the young boys affections, laughing aloud, the sweet bowl of fruit now soured with his grandson's arrival. He scoops the boy into his arms and stands to carry him off to his villa where they will change and then take the car for a drive in the country, or perhaps a trip to the seaside to chase waves and gulls and the like. They disappear in another wave of the crowd, leaving the dog to lap the remains of the day.

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