mashed potatoes

mornings are hard when you know you’ll have to be with people with lots of soul pain. the typical refrigerated store air nipped at my nose as i trudged to the coffee line. Larry  read the hospital paperwork poking out of his coat pocket with the torn leather elbows.

Larry had probably seen Halley’s Comet twice. he wore a blue plaid shirt with faux mother of pearl snaps, black dickies and steel toes. he had a decently robust head of hair, silvery with a darker shade of gray streaking towards the back. per chance when his brain cells had a more cordial relationship amongst themselves, he might have been only assigned to crafts requiring brawn and handy work. his face was anglo. blue eyed, long and thin, perhaps an Irish boy.

     he had steady hands. a little calloused, but one could tell that he’d done his fair share of manual labor and partook in bare knuckle bar brawling, often. his dull downward stare declared days fleeted away full of insults, dukers’ blows and abysmal marks where many tears had corroded away at the spirit. all, of course, to the voice of Patsy Cline in the background. broken spirits usually have the ability to sit graciously across from a chair full of spilled coffee or possibly the Devil as well. no one paid attention so the old man introduced himself to the arabica soaked nothingness sitting at his table.

     ‘i know how to make mashed potatoes. you can’t leave the skin on, otherwise they don’t taste good.’ Larry abruptly spat out his directions to the emptiness in front of him. he had a good tone, not raspy or squeaky, kinda’ like if John Wayne and Bogey had a baby. ‘you put the butter in after you mashed them sons-of-bitches up real good! but the butter has to be soft, otherwise the potatoes taste fake.’ i relished in his pronunciation and perfect punctuation.

     distracted by the buzzy voice overhead blazing the $5 specials the old man then looked at me. turning slighty pink Larry smiled and quickly began to wipe the table down as he stuttered and apologized. i smiled and offered my extra napkins. together two bruised souls sopped up a mutual figurative mess.

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