Friday, August 3, 2012

Matryoshka

The waitress in my mind is looking out a window at her part of Utah. Blue sky, red rock. She wears a frilly apron. Soon she'll go home to a motel by the highway, or soon she'll go home to a Winnebago in a park. The point is impermanence, and to be close to motion.

After two and a half months the adventure still excites her. The pancakes and the regulars, the way they huddle by the off-ramp -- the gas station, the motel pools, this diner open around the clock. Time does not disturb the trance here. The solitude and the starlight, the sky and the rock. It's like living in a postcard. There are brochures by the doorway.

This isn't where she started. It could be another phase -- the dreamy time in San Diego, where the streets were lined with homeless, nice and harmless to her as Disney characters.

This is "hippie," this is "bohemian." She should have lived during the Sixties, her parents said before she left.

Maybe no one knew how liberating it had been to delete her LinkedIn profile.

Hot plate from the kitchen, side of bacon for the sheriff, sleeper couch in the apartment and a notebook from the gift shop. Six-pack of beers from 7-Eleven, and tequila from a neighbor. Mostly static on the airwaves but the song that somehow finds her, you can run but you can't hide

* * *

A certain grace eludes her. On days off she brings a book into the rocks and hunts for shade. But there is always something. Her bladder is too full, or her stomach is too empty. The heat is too high, or she's troubled by three pounds gained, bloated bulge against her waistband. There is enough money for rent but not for gas, and he was bored when last they spoke, a not-quite-stifled yawn into the receiver.

Could she grow old here, in a place where time doesn't count?

She could not, which was why she had come.

* * *

A Mexican man at the apartments invites her out and into nothing to shoot beer bottles with a gun. He lines them up along a fence and they pass it back and forth. They break the glass bang bang bang. It's the only sound around them. Mostly static on the airwaves but the song comes through in snatches.

* * *

Soon the hot plates start to burn her, and the bacon makes her fat. The cramped couch will make her back hurt, and the notebook will stay empty. The brochures become scratch paper, and the sun will age her fast.

It will seem better for it to lodge in memory, a mental escape hatch for dull moments at a desk job in the city. Her car wheels must never stop.

She will come home just like I did. She will dream up other waitresses. Maybe one of them will stay.

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