James

His room had not changed since high school.  The Atlanta Falcons sheets on the single bed.  The Yardbirds family tree poster, the poster of Butch & Sundance guns drawn & charging. 
His mother said that it smelled like teenagers. 
And she would never be able to get the smell out. 
“Teenagers?”  
His mother made a laughing scoff.  “Boys,” she replied, shaking her head. “Sweat, and mud, grass.  Whatever in the world was going on behind these doors.  Boys.” 
He couldn’t smell anything. 
He’d been back in his room for a few months. 
His wife and 4 year old son had been staying with her parents. 
They had sold the house to purchase his place.  The place he’d wanted since he fell hard for cooking his Junior year of high school. 
One day, after school, he whipped up some eggs and used whatever he could find in the fridge. 
Then it was everyday and he started getting his own ingredients and experimenting, his palate was expanding.  Then his friends started coming over.  Everyday, it was shooting hoops and omelettes. 
A decade of working in restaurants.  First was a year at Waffle House in college.  His friends used to come in drunk, and heckle him.  They could not understand why he would work there, but asked him to steal shirts with logos and hats.  But he was fascinated and mesmerized by the short order cooking, he felt an artisanal beauty in it. After college he headed to Charleston. Line Cook.  Sous chef, eventually landing a head chef job.  But, it was always the short order breakfast.  That’s where his heart and passion was. 

A low rumbling voice.  Quiet but powerful, and it made its way to his brain.

Eggs? Said the voice. 
He ignored it. 
LOUDER.  HEY ASSHOLE-EGGS? WHY? 
I like eggs.  A lot of people do. 
Stupid idea if I ever heard one.  I told you not to do it.  You don’t listen to me. 
He did not respond. 
You quit your job, sold your home, and put everything you had into fuckin eggs.  And look what happened. 
He said nothing again. 
LOOK WHAT HAPPENED ASSHOLE! 
He sighed.  I didn’t know this virus was gonna happen. 
Maybe you should have. 
Nobody did.  Just bad timing. 
Bad timing? 
Yeah. 
Tell me when it’s good timing to take everything you have and put it into one thing? Huh? 
He said nothing. 
You even called it One Basket.  Dummy. 
He swung, but he was way off. 
Laughter. 
That’s a bitter pill, ain’t it.  A big brown horse looking pill with an I on it.  One Basket.  Dumbass.  You know, she’s pissed right?  You know she’s not gonna comeback from her folks place, right? 
That’s not true.  She supports me.  Hundred percent.  Always has.  Always will.  It’s just bad luck. 
You should’ve done the food truck first.  That’s what she thought was the best idea. 
We talked about it.  The food truck trend is going to burn out.  And a restaurant was always the end goal, so start at the top.  No baby steps. 
She’s not coming back, asshole. 
She loves me and she supports me. 
What the hell is she gonna come back to, smart guy?  You’re folks house? 
I’ll get a job, I’ll get back on my feet, and we’ll try it again. 
Yeah, that’s right. If at first you don’t succeed, keep screwing the pooch. 
SHUT UP! I’M SICK OF IT! SAY SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE FOR ONCE! SUPPORT ME! 
His mother was outside of the door. 
“James?” She said quietly.  “Who are you talking to,” she slowly opened the door.  He was sitting on his bed. 
“Nobody,” he said.

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