Odyssey of a Tardy Waitress

The Plaza

 

She had grown to love the smell of noon. It smelled of baking bougainvilleas in the oven, then there there was the salted something from one’s own neck. Dry dust heaved around her ankles as she made her way up the sidewalk, winding through the shady parts. She got to the bus stop and hid from the sun in the open rest shelter.

One hundred thirty-four cards passed in a hurry before she thought to look at the bus schedule. Sunday. Not in operation until eleven a.m. Problematic, as she was supposed to be cleaning off the tables in her section by 10:30, and it was now already a quarter past. Time to start walking. Today just just had to wear the tall shoes.

“Carleton, I’m going to be a little late,” she said into her phone a moment later, already heading down the road and wishing she had sunscreen. “Well I didn’t know the buses don’t run until eleven on Sundays and my bike was stolen yesterday – no, I’m going to walk. What? Cerillos and Osage. Yeah, St. Mike’s drive. Nah, no one’s home. I don’t know, how long do you think? Forty minutes or so? So yeah, I guess I’ll be there around opening. I’ll be alright. Yeah, thanks. See you in a bit.”

After six minutes she had accepted her burnt neck and ankles. After twelve she even wondered if she would tan. After thirteen she thought the sun must be affecting her brain.

The brothers and uncles on the corners only made half-hearted attempts at getting her attention before they sank back into the shade, fanning themselves greedily with yesterday’s funnies. More cars passed. Big hurries, somewhere to be. The gravel was sometimes slippery where the sidewalk disappeared, and she had to pay attention to her feet. The flowers baking had been replaced by the simple acid of asphalt on sun.

It was eleven and she still wasn’t at the restaurant. The blue egg sky, itself hot and slow and patient, smoothed out over the browning streets. She was late and native and calm.

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