- Vol. 10
- Chapter 09
I've never heard of Taco Bell. I'm sorry. I don't believe I can direct you though I am quite good at directions.
Really? Are you serious? You never heard of Taco Bell? Wow, lady. That sucks. (This old bag looks like the Queen of England. Pink coat. Permed head. Never forgets an umbrella. Smells like sweet soap.)
I am serious. I have never heard of Taco Bell, but do you have an address? A general location? I'd like to be of assistance if I can be.
Not really. No. Just heard there was a Taco Bell around here.
Well that makes it very difficult then. Don't you have an umbrella? You two are soaking wet. That's not a good idea, you know. There's a bad cold germ circulating. Not good to get damp and chilled.
We're fine. We forgot our umbrellas.
It's tacos you want, then? You've come from somewhere to this neighborhood for a taco?
What about a sandwich? A nice beef sandwich. There's a shop at the end of the block right here that has a good lunch at a fair price. Harold's it is. See that green sign to your left. There it is. They have very good vanilla creme sodas too.
Goodbye then and good luck.
Later at Harold's.
What's wrong with your sandwich? Not rare enough for you, Gladys? Not enough horseradish?
It's fine, Harold. Fine. But it isn't a taco, is it? (I've been eating this sandwich for thirty odd years. It's serviceable. Dependable. But is it really enjoyable?)
What's that supposed to mean?
It's just an observation, Harold. No need to be cross. This is a beef sandwich. This is not a taco. Simple as that.
(Harold takes his leave. To the short order cook in the back. "The old hag is finally losing it. It's about time. I won't miss her if she suddenly disappears. That ridiculous pink coat. That stupid orange umbrella. Her nauseating perfume, measly tips.)
Gladys leaves the sandwich behind. She leaves her orange umbrella behind too. She takes her pink coat off, intending to shed that too, but her late husband gave it to her for the 70th birthday so she tucks it under her arm.
Outside the skies have darkened. Thunder applauds as she steps outside of Harold's for the last time. The rain takes one look at her and sets to work. It feels like stab wounds through her cotton blouse. A smile blooms on Gladys's thin lips. It's more than that. It's a hearty laugh from Gladys. A belly laugh and she has the belly to laugh with. She takes a few steps along the sidewalk before she remembers how good she was at hopscotch once. She tries it again. Not to bad for an old lady. She can lift her weight off the ground. She can do anything she wants with the rest of this day but maybe just walking about without an umbrella in the pouring rain is enough.