last sitting

threadbare carpet hotel breakfast
‘té? café? sir? madam?’
‘is there marmalade?’
‘I fetch you mermelada’
‘and a spoon for my muesli’
‘I fetch you, cuchara, madam’
‘no, ‘spoon’, I said’
porridge is ladled
and admired
‘the Scots make it with water’
‘I didn’t know that’
‘I have five prunes in mine every morning’
‘I think I will too’
‘prunes are good for the stool’
‘I didn’t know that’
my designated table-mate is absent
I did not catch his name
he told me he had a dry sense of humour
‘but not many people get my jokes’
it occurs that he might have died overnight
I won’t miss him
nor his conversation
his porridge-brain philosophies
his rattling teeth
he’s never heard of fixative?
he told me he was political
proud he always voted Labour
was it Conservative?
I will miss his buttered toast crumbs arching to the table
(some landed on my side  – I flicked them back – he did not notice)
and his contented ‘aahs’ after soup or tea
‘té? senor?’
I show my cup and nod
the waiter pours coffee
I sigh ‘thanks’ to the back of his shirt
‘té? café? sir? madam?’
‘do you have lime marmalade?
‘lima mermelada? lo siento, senora’
mine is the window table
behind me
a shuffle of plate-loaders
at the toaster bottleneck
an eruption of angry muttering
a dislodged plate hits the parquet
someone swears
someone cheers
someone tuts
‘no use moaning over spilled beans’
I peer into breakfast darkness
Scotland is out there in the glooming
a plump matelot shirt bustles up
prowling after a partner in misery, asks,
‘how did you sleep?’
(‘like a baby but she doesn’t want to hear that’)
‘terrible, I hardly slept at all’
‘could you hear that generator humming?’
a lying tut, ‘oh yes it kept me awake all night’
‘you as well?’
a comradely shoulder pat
‘I’m seeing the manager, change my room, you should too’
the matelot shirt glides through the tables
melting into inner darkness
‘té? café? sir? madam?’
‘is there marmalade?’
‘I fetch you mermelada’
‘and a spoon for my muesli’
‘I fetch you, cuchara, madam’
at every table couples
grown fat, comfortable,
and grey together
sit together
discussing omelettes
except table 58
the one with the view of nothing
which I share with some guy from somewhere
with a dry sense of humour
who didn’t make it to breakfast
and I wouldn’t mind if he died overnight
‘maybe he choked on his dentures’
in the half-gloom
a ‘private ambulance’ noses the gravel
I tap on the window
‘room for one more?’

© coolhermit 2023
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critique and comments welcome.
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Sounds like a typical Shearings Coach holiday. You describe the mediocrity very well. Made me smile

(After drinking in a hotel bar with one of their drivers one night, I don’t think I’d ever want to go on one) 🙂

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