American Breakfast-Mexican Dinner
Copyright 2010 by Janice Daugharty
First published in The Georgia Review FALL 2004 ISSUE
This morning Pippy gets the chair. Just a K-Mart lawn chair with frayed and dangling blue vinyl webbing, but it’s the only place to sit on the side of the building where we wait nine hours every day. The reason Pippy gets to sit in it now is because Big Rod, man who owns the café, beat him up last night. He gets the ashtray too, a smutty ceramic crab. It shakes in his filthy right hand. The fact that he’s thumping ashes and smashing butts square into the crab says he’s scared to death of Big Rod, who has laid down the law to all four of us kids about dropping butts on the narrow strip of concrete. Not that it would matter, not that any of Big Rod’s customers would care; there’s about a jillion burnt cigarettes from the front door around the corner, to the side facing the highway where we have to stay till our mamas knock off from work.
Nothing ever happens, so Pippy’s getting beat up is like a Sunday in the middle of the week.
According to Pippy, he’s fifteen, but he looks like he’s twelve, my age, and just wishes he was older. He’s skinny, sickly, and dark-skinned, but at the same time pale as butter. It’s like he’s been inside too much, which of course is not the case. His dull black hair hangs down in his eyes. His black jeans and T-shirt are smeared with food and filth, and his high-top Reeboks are no longer white. His right leg twitches and every once in awhile he places a hand on his knee and squeezes it. Right now he is cussing in Spanish and English, but when a car pulls up in the front lot he gets quiet. Smokes, thumps ashes, smashes butts in the ashtray.