Leroy slobbers. The sandwich set before him transcends food – this is a masterpiece. His starving eyes devour the thick slices of crispy bread. A meaty red tomato slice contrasts with the crisp green lettuce leaf but blends into the folds of pale pink turkey breast. Admiration restrains him from nibbling yet – and the man at the other end of the sandwich shop watching – and the dirt he notices beneath his fingernails when he goes to grab the delicacy. He darts to the restroom and sanitizes – he’d hate to debase such a miraculous meal.
Leroy returns to his table. Hey, kid. That’s a pretty spectacular sandwich you’ve got there. How about you let a poor old man take a bite? That man now hunches across from him – he must’ve snuck there while Leroy washed up. He reeks of steaming Porta-John and wears a wardrobe reminiscent of landfill. A halo of fruit flies orbits his matted crown. Leroy recoils. The man smiles.
Oozing sores dot his slimy worm lips, which unzip into a mutilated semi-circle. They frame his remaining teeth set in decaying white and brown gums. These teeth. They’re fuzzy. And yellow. And green. Through the hole where his two front teeth and left eyetooth aren’t, Leroy spies a geographic green-pink tongue enveloped by a milky white film. The man licks his lips with it and slurps. How about it? I’m so hungry, kid. I haven’t eaten in a couple days!
Guilt battles disgust in Leroy’s conscious like the warm smell of his sandwich scuffles with the man’s stench in his nostrils. Anything to get him out of here! He compromises. Well, okay. The man’s eyes pop and his jaw cracks as he reaches two arthritic hands toward Leroy’s dream. Long thick fingernails scrape at the toasted perfection as he draws it toward his cesspool mouth. A pearly strand of saliva stretches as he opens wide. Leroy looks away, and the man chomps down. Nearly a quarter of the sandwich vanishes. Thanks! That was amazing. Best sandwich I ever had! The man’s mouth overflows with semi-masticated delight. Leroy squints, repressing vomit. No problem. The man sets the sandwich back onto the plate and gestures toward it. It’s all yours, kid. He scuttles out of the shop.
Leroy gapes at the desecrated work of art: all smooshed and drenched in drool, and can only force a soft moan through his esophagus. Leroy’s eyes water as he stares. Bolts up and runs to the restroom, bends over a toilet and pukes. Again, he returns to his seat, but this time the man isn’t there – just the sloppy carcass of his lunch. Grabs the plate, he races to the garbage and chucks it. Explodes expletives and escapes the prison where he lost a chance at true gastronomical satiation.
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