Dan Nielsen: “Oatmeal”


_____“Coffee, Sugar?” the waitress asked in passing.
_____Warren looked up from his book and nodded. A cup and saucer appeared. Coffee was poured.
_____“Anything else, Sugar?”  
_____“Eggs over easy and rye toast, please.”
_____She wrote something on a notepad, tore off the top sheet, and placed it beside the saucer.
_____“Do I pay now?”
_____“Whenever you like, Sugar.”
_____“I was going to order oatmeal, but it’s not on the menu.”
_____“We only have the packets.”
_____The waitress tore off another sheet and handed it to the cook through a little window. The cook said something that made the waitress laugh. Warren tried to think of something funny to say. He added creamer to his coffee. He turned over the bill. There was the dollar amount and a name he didn’t read.
_____The eggs arrived. Warren ripped off a corner of rye toast, dipped it in the tiny tub of grape jelly, and used it to break open a yolk.  
_____“Want me to warm that up, Sugar?”
_____“Please.” Warren thought of something. “Is there a pay phone?”
_____“You passed it on your way in, Sugar.”
_____There was a phone book attached to a wire. Warren thought about the alphabet. He hummed the song. He found the page with the name and went down the list with a finger until he came to the full name. He dropped a quarter in the slot and listened to it fall, hitting a little bell somewhere along the way. The dial tone was a dead person in a hospital. He stared at the book and dialed a number. He stared some more and dialed another number. He lost his place. He started over. He made it to the end. Someone answered on the second ring.
_____“You said I could call.”
_____“And you did.”
_____“Is this a bad time?”
_____“No, I’m interested in what you have to say.”
_____“I found the place. It looks good.”  
_____“I was a little worried.”
_____“There’s no bed, but I saw a lunar eclipse.”
_____“That’s nice.”
_____“I slept in a chair that smells like cat.”
_____“Is there a cat?”
_____“Not now.”
_____“You have a phone?”
_____“I’m in a restaurant.”
_____“Are you having breakfast?”
_____“They only have the packets.”
_____“It sounds like you’re okay.”
_____“That’s why I called. To let you know.”
_____“Are you okay?”


Dan Nielsen is a part-time standup comic. His least favorite flavor of jelly is petroleum. Recent FLASH in: Connotation Press, Jellyfish Review, (mic)ro(mac), Necessary Fiction, The Cabinet of Heed, and Cheap Pop. Dan has a website: Preponderous, you can follow him @DanNielsenFIVES. He and Georgia Bellas are the post-minimalist art/folk band Sugar Whiskey.

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