Kitchen Talk. A Long Smoke. A Story.
“It was dark. I mean, a moonless night, barren landscape. And suddenly the train slows, and stops. And somehow the message went out that we could disembark, go off the train, because there was an opportunity to buy some drinks. But there was no station. You come off the metal stairs on the train, and go across, dust, dust was blowing, dust was filling the air, and it was somehow warmly lilt from the interior lights on the train that was spilling out from this barren, dust-filled landscape. And there, through the dust, we saw this little stand, canvas and wood, with some small lamps around it. And as we got closer we saw bottles: yellow bottles, green bottles. The bottles were clear, but the fluid inside was green or yellow or red or violet. And it was sugar water. It wasn’t, you know, chilled. It was just absolutely the temperature of the outdoors. And for the smallest amount of money you could get a bottle of this sugar water. So I gave the man there in this small tent — moths were flipping and flying like frogs, frog moths were pulling themselves out of the earth and flying up in front of the stand, dust was blowing, it was like a mysterious strange-wind sound, and out came the tiniest little copper coin that I got somewhere, and I gave it to this man. I gave the man the coin. He gave me a bottle of, I don’t know if I got violet sugar water or what. I got this bottle. And, in addition, I got a paper, a piece of paper money — four inches by three inches — the most beautiful, intricately designed gold and green and blue, red, a piece of paper money, and the bottle, for just giving him this small copper coin. Back I went into the train . . .”