The eggs were dry and hours old. The heat lamp had raped them of their flavor, leaving hardened cheese and grease running down their legs. The sight of it was rather sickening. One sign read, “With Cheese,” the other, “Without Chese.” The second e had clearly been forgotten and written above the space it was meant to be. An arrow pointed down to let you know, This is where this stray e belongs. “Was it so much trouble to make another sign, spelled correctly?” the man wondered, unsure if he was making the worst decision of his life. He saw no difference between the eggs “With Cheese” or “Without Cheese.” He did see a difference in the biscuits. Some were burnt. Some were not. But mostly, they were burnt. “Who buys premade breakfast from a grocery store anyway? Sort of goes against the point of shopping for groceries, doesn’t it?” he asked himself. He opted for some fresh fruit instead.
“Can I help you?” The singsongy words came from behind him like the song of the Siren. He turned back to the bright lights and big yuck of the eggs. The voice belonged to the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen that morning. Her eyes were brighter than all the heat lamps combined, and her skin was darker than a thousand midnights. She had tried to put curlers in her hair for work; they didn’t take very well. She was stunning in her hairnet and gold tooth. She smiled larger as she asked again, “Can I help you?” Correction, gold teeth.
She was neither very young nor very old. She had not yet given up on life, and yet she knew her physical limitations. The man wished that he could order her, naked, spreadeagled on a biscuit. One of the not-burnt ones.
“Can you make breakfast sandwiches?” he asked, thinking, “That was a very stupid question indeed.” But he was not entirely sure what customary breakfast offerings were in the South, so he didn’t beat himself up over the question as he normally would.
“I don’t know… I never made one before.”
“See. Valid question,” he told himself. The voice in the back of his head said, “No, it’s a stupid question. They have biscuits, egg, and a knife. They can clearly make breakfast sandwiches, asshole.”
“Can we make breakfast sandwiches?” she asked her manager.
“Of course,” the elderly woman said without bothering to look up from the bread she was slicing.
“How we do that?” she asked.
“You slice the biscuit with the knife and put eggs on it,” the manager said in a dismissive tone.
“See, dipshit,” the voice said. “Stupid question.”
The girl grabbed the serrated knife in one hand and a burned biscuit in the other.He wanted to ask her to use an unburnt one, but she asked him, “Where you from?” before he could speak up. Odds are, he wouldn’t have said anything even if she didn’t ask him that.
“I’m going to New York next month.”
“It’s a nice time to go. Not too hot.”
“I’ve never left Virginia.”
“I guess it’s due time.”
“What’s it like?”
“Yeah. Is it nice?”
“You live there?”
“Where? New York?”
“No, I live in New Jersey.”
“That’s not in New York?”
“What are you doing in Richmond?”
“I’m not really sure. Me and the family just started driving.”
“Well, I hope you enjoy your stay,” she said as she handed him the saddest egg sandwich ever made since man realized you could make sandwiches from eggs.
“Thank you. Enjoy New York.” He walked off slowly and waited for her to look away, then threw the sandwich in the trash and walked ten feet to the produce.
He saw nice, ripe cantaloupes and thought, “God. I hope I get laid tonight.”