The plate was empty. Like this page.
I knew that – soon – based on previous experience here, it would be full of meat & two veg. I’ve never known a cafe that simply plants a plate like that on the table and then has food dished up by the waitress piecemeal from saucepans on her trolley. Posh restaurants, maybe, do that, where a flaming piece of animal is often brought to the businessman’s trough, with a huge sizzling noise and billows of smoke. But never two-bit cafes like this one.
The waitress was done up as if she still lived in the past and travelled in Third Class carriages. Her saucepans steamed biliously like trains themselves. Her voice was in broken English, meaning she wasn’t even one of us. She told us about her troubles as she ladled the bits and bobs of tasselled bone in gravy. A thick accent that we could cut even with the blunt carving-knife that she then brought out to slice the still whole swede sweating nearby.
I nodded my head with my own version of small talk. My companion – a nondescript lass I’d met inside the cinema – merely tried to look pleased that I had taken her here for a meal. Going to see a continuous programme of 'Brief Encounter' and a B Film had left us with an appetite that would even salivate at soggy leavings in a plug-hole.
Soon, the plate was empty again. Every word eaten - & left a blank plot and nobody even to read it, let alone write it, if that was the right order.
Alone, I headed back towards the cinema – and now found it to be a car-park.
An empty car-park.
(written today and first published above)