I’m in a subway station.
The speakers overhead – somewhere that you can’t identify exactly where it is – crackle to life and some indecipherable language comes out. The third rail hums to life and not a moment later a train pulls into the station.
What else to do but get on?
Someone on the car is eating a burger. I can smell the cooked cheese. I hate when people eat on the train. Especially when it is so fragrant and messy.
The cheese is melting off onto the paper. I’m so hungry.
“NEXT STOP 34TH STREET.”
I open my eyes and I’m back in my uncle’s kitchen. Laying in front of me is a perfectly browned and flattened grilled cheese. Wisps of steam are still curling from the edges. This is the best food I’ve laid my eyes on in months. It tastes like heaven.
“Good?” my uncle asks though he is faced toward the sink already cleaning the pan. It seems as though, despite his apparent laziness, he doesn’t let dishes pile up in the sink.
“I’m glad.” He dries his hands and winks at me.
He walks out of the room as I continue eating. I clean the plate when I’m finished, not wanting to be responsible for the only dirty dish in the sink.
When I walk out of the kitchen I can’t help but notice that my uncle had already sank back into the couch, eyes glued to the screen, as though he had never got up. The channels POP POP POP as he can’t decide what to watch.
As not to disturb my uncle is walk behind the couch and duck under the stairs to come back around at the bottom of them. Instead of making my way up the stairs I am drawn to the pool table by all of the colorful balls laying helplessly in the horizontal alcove – their home after being pocketed into the holes up above. The rack has a little home just above where the balls live.
My uncle hears me messing around because from the corner of my eye I see him leap up.
“Know how t’play?”
“Uh, no. I’ve only seen it played at school and on TV.”
“Want me to show you?” He can hardly contain his excitement. Surprisingly enough – at least for myself – I didn’t run. I didn’t move. Normally this would be too much adult/kid interaction for me. I shrug and pick up a cue. He places each ball into the triangle and moves them around until he is satisfied with their mystical order. I guess I never paid that much attention – I’m always reading while watching pool on TV – but the order seems to be stripe, solid, stripe solid and so on with the black 8-ball smack dab in the center.
“I’ll show you how to break,” he says.