Ho Ho Holidailies
TV Watching Through the Ages

Excerpt: Oatmeal or Grits


Okay, so here's a brief excerpt from this year's NaNoWriMo effort. (Remember, this is an unedited first draft.) The scene is the circus cookhouse.

"We got mugs this year, ZZ?" I asked.

ZZ nodded and handed over four chipped, ceramic coffee mugs. I took one and distributed the other three to Sam, Bebop, and Joany.
Bebop looked surprised. "I get a mug this year?"

Al grumbled. "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Bebop. Consider it a wedding present."

Mugs were a sure sign of Al's favor. Most of the cookhouse denizens had to make do with Styrofoam, but if Al liked you, he'd hand you a mug and you'd better be grateful for the privilege.

We filled up our precious mugs with coffee from the huge coffee urn on the end of the counter. Joany took a sip and immediately grabbed the sugar container. She poured a stream into her coffee; Bebop did the same thing with the Cremora.

Sam and I drank our coffee black. It was easier that way and we were mostly used to it.

"So, what time is it, anyway?" I asked no one.

ZZ answered. "Seven-thirty, Mo," he said.

"Yeah, you made it in time today," said Al. He turned to the stove and stirred the big pot of oatmeal. "I got oatmeal or grits or both."

"Any butter for the grits?" I asked.

"You think this is the Ritz or something? I got margarine," Al snarled.

"I'll have oatmeal," I said. Sam cracked up at this exchange.

"Oatmeal for me, too," he said. "At least we got sugar and milk for it."

“And fuckin’ raisins,” added Al, blowing a smoke ring, “if you want ‘em.”

Right on cue, ZZ came out of the kitchen with a gallon jug of milk and a box of raisins.

“Here you go,” he said, putting them down on the counter by the coffee urn.

“Two oatmeals; come and get ‘em,” said Al, placing the plastic bowls on the dutch door. “What do you other lovebirds want?”

“Grits,” said Bebop and Joany at the same time.

“I know you ain’t got butter, but is there salt? You gotta have some salt, Al,” said Joany.

Al grumbled, but handed over a salt shaker and a tub of margarine.

“There, make do.” He turned back to the big pots on the stove. The long ash on his cigarette wobbled and fell off, narrowly missing the oatmeal pot.

I leaned over to Sam. “I wonder how much cigarette ash we’ll eat this season,” I said, sotto voce.

Sam choked a little on his oatmeal, turned to me, and said, “Don’t do that, honeypie!”

“Can’t help it. I’m a clown, you know.” I leaned over and kissed Sam’s earlobe.

PS - If you'd like to read about the inspiration for Al, here you go.