Scraps. I get what’s left-over, he said. Nothing new for me. Never there for the first meal. The one that counts, the old man lit a cigarette. A piece of chicken. Some potatoes with wilted parsley. Carrots with grease on them. I’ll eat mine cold thank you very much, he turned on the television. There was static. Lines ran across the screen. He adjusted the antenna on top. He’d move the rabbit ears east and west. Trying to get in a picture. It was cloudy outside.
He gave up. Quit messing around with the TV. Turned the sound down and ate from a paper plate while watching blue lines cross faces trying to sneak through. He popped open a beer.
Salt, he whispered. This meal needs salt. There’s enough pepper on it, but, there’s no salt, he got up and looked through the kitchen cabinets. Where does she keep the salt? It was here yesterday, he started moving items. Thyme, rosemary, sage, paprika, all this stuff you don’t need. All you need is salt, his voice got louder.
She came from the bedroom down the hall. Walked in on him. The younger woman saw her dad talking to himself. Speaking out loud as if he was conversing with someone. The old man moved from cabinet to cabinet rummaging through plates, potato chips, Tupperware, glasses, bottles of half empty liquor, Pyrex pans. Dad, she said. What are you doing? It’s three in the morning, she moved towards him.
I’m trying to eat my supper, he turned and told her. I come home from working all day and there’s no salt for my meal, he said.
Come on dad. Let’s go to bed. The doctor doesn’t want you to have salt, she wiped her eyes. Come on now. Turn off the TV and get some sleep.
He looked at her. What day is it?
It’s Saturday morning.
I don’t work on Saturdays do I?
No dad. No.
Do I work?
He took one more drink of beer. Started to place items back on the shelves. The daughter grabbed his hands. Come on now. I’ll clean this up in the morning, he nodded his head. The two of them walked down the hall.