Monday, August 19, 2013

Oatmeal

At the Salvation Army breakfast at 4:30 am I would roll over on the floor of the dining hall, flick bed bugs and roaches left dying from the night heat, and fold my thin Yoga mattress up for storage. The night manager would flick the lights on and off and yell, "Git up!"
My spine threw knives through my arteries. Men farted and coughed. There were no phony "Good Morning" greetings at the leaking toilets. Most men groaned as their embattled prostates cried with relief, signifying the only pleasure they would feel for the next 14 hours. Then we drank water that looked like a coffee bean had been crumbled inside it. No cream. No sugar. Breakfast was cold toast and oatmeal and the conversation always came back to the food and my tears were lubricant like the lacking butter...

"I likes oatmeal," said a man to no one in particular. "Stick to your ribs. Makes you full up. Always eat two bowls if they have it." The toothless man would nod to me and my eyes betrayed my broken heart. Some were disabled like me, in chronic pain, waiting for checks that would never arrive.

The merciless day was coming and these men had less hope for improvement than a Hutu in Tutsiville.

I can't eat oatmeal without thinking of those morning pep talks I had.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.