Elizabeth Gomez: Cormac McCarthy Eats a Sandwich

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The man entered. The breeze coming through the windows was cold. The curtains were handmade. They had kittens on them. The kittens were brown. The man looked at his boots. They were orange like the rays of the sun setting. The girl at the counter turned to the man.

It’s cool in here ain’t it?

Yeah. I’d say cold. It’s cold in here.

The man walked to the counter. The counter was dusty. He looked at the chalkboard menu behind the girl. He tipped his hat to her. She looked at him. The man looked old. His skin was wrinkled and brown.

Would you like a strawberry peach twist frappuccino with an extra shot of espresso?

No ma’am. Think I’ll have a coffee. And a sandwich.

What kind of sandwich? We have peanut butter and jelly on special. We also have…

Yes.

Yes what?

I’ll have that sandwich.

The man sat at a table. It was covered with coffee cup stains. He looked at them. He noticed the sun coming through the windows. He pulled his chair away from the table. The table was green. He didn’t like it. The room was empty. He pulled out a cigarette.

You can’t smoke in here, sir.

The man looked at the girl and turned his face away. He let the cigarette hang in his mouth for a moment. He put the cigarette back in its box. The sandwich came.

The man looked at the sandwich. It was cold and it was brown. He smiled.

He turned the sandwich around in his weathered fingers. The dark brown crust reminded him of her. She was still at the ranch. He wondered for how much longer. He took off his hat and put it on the table. The sunlit dust settled on it.

He took a bite of his sandwich. He chewed. It was sweet. He continued to chew and he chewed again. He put the sandwich back down. He wiped his mouth with his napkin. It was white with a yellow gingham pattern. The hair on the man’s neck stood tall. He was frightened.

He picked up the sandwich. He finished the sandwich. He looked at his coffee. It was cold. Black, no sugar, no cream. His heart sank for a moment. He remembered his mother. He remembered her funeral. The black coffin decorated in flowers. He took a deep breath. He didn’t finish the coffee.

When he was done, he stood up. He threw his napkin onto his plate. He put on his hat, turned to the girl at the counter and nodded.

Good sandwich.

The man walked out. The sun was almost set. He turned his chin to the sky. He scanned the sidewalk for passersby. The light framed his body as if he was a dark shadow in the doorway. He was.

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