Friday, August 8, 2014

The Fish Hamburger

A friend asked if I would like to go to a fast food place, and would I mind if some others went along. Of course, I did not mind , so off we went. The others were a young lady of perhaps eighteen, and a little boy of eight or nine. The girl's quiet, modest, manner reminded one of an older sister, or a governess. She was pleasant, but reserved.

I had known my friend since he was about nine. How can I describe him? He was 6 feet 4 inches tall, with a thick head of stiff red hair that stood up from it's part to give the impression of a speeding boat making waves. His voice was rather subdued and rumbling. It sounded as if it was coming from a distance.

He had a weakness for any idea that was humorous, especially in an absurd way. When I would say anything that appealed to this, he would laugh, then cry. He was a victim of humor.

We drove to an eatery I had not seen before or since. It was illuminated with soft yellow light, sodium lamps. They gave the impression that we were actors in a dream sequence of a high school play.

As we discussed what we would order, a car pulled in with a length of bicycle tire inner tube attached to its exhaust. It flopped around while making sputtering, vulgar sounds.

The soft yellow ambiance, as from millions of fireflies, combined with a gentle moist atmosphere to put me into a feeling of unreality. This was Eden, a temperature and moisture that was the most perfect I have ever felt.

The little boy, through his gentle, quiet manner, radiated innocence. Innocence was in the car and in the parking lot. We were all touched by it, as if immersed in a pool of warm water.

We often think of innocence as the absence of evil. And so it can be. But the innocence I felt that night had a positive element of its own, like pure white sand on a beautiful beach, or freshly fallen snow.

The little lad had made his decision. "I'd like a fish hamburger," he said. We laughed and ordered him a fish sandwich.

Years later I met the young lady. "You went with us to the restaurant!" she told me.

"Yes, and every time I think of that night, I want a fish hamburger."

She was amazed that I remembered the little boy's request. How could I ever forget? I would not have been surprised if his order had been delivered by an angel.

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