It was beneath a shale sky the morning we left. The hard frost would only relent to hard hands of leather. We came across Pa at sundown. The shot sounded like a grain bag dropped from loft height, muted. It was never warm there anyway.
It rains more in the city. Ma found work in a textile mill. I did what I could. I didn't remember the farm much but the way Ma carried on about it led me to wonder. I wanted to see what she saw.
From afar it presents: a glittering golden castle peering through the warm. I went closer and it became full, waxing though the mist. "Old Country Buffet" it said. A taste of the farm, home. My father.
The opened door belched plumes of humid sick. The narrow ways lined two abreast with stooped bedlam, pleated in shoddy.
The besodden termagant attending the register accepted my coupon for a discounted meal (with beverage). As we shambled across the slotted-drained floors, the plangent cadence of the bright steel kitchen was a placid soothe to our weathered struct.
Clutching the hot hardmolded plastic plate in my wan grip, I approached the steaming buffet. A warm trough of slippery gruel, varying in texture, sat fetid and bright. Jostling amongst the jarring elbows and swaying protuberances of the herd, I ladled a portion of suet onto the gritty pastel disc.
Dazed and bleary, I wander about the dining pen, as if in a fever. I find my place in the herd; I eat.
Dizzying blind with icy sweat, I cleave up the slops and heft them into my quivering maw. Columns of spittle spread between the gnashing, the mush sloughing down my oily gullet.
A swirling mass: gazing into an existential horror; whirlpool of dizzying lights & color. A cackling lamia offers forth a chalice of cheese-crab jalapeño poppers. They are accepted in fervent madness. Plastic red coffee mugs receive spent battered debris. Soiled ruin splays across the particlepress expanse. Pure madness, loathe and balming, a sickening hum creeping from the spine up.
I awoke wretched and despairing. The fare rejected like a mismatched organ. Dreary and hallucinating, I lurched to bed with no concept of time or memory. Before sleep enveloped me, I knew then that I was to follow my father's fate.