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Breakfast and a Cigarette, Part III

A Novella in Four Directions


Breakfast and a Cigarette: A Novella in Four Directions
by Bill McLaughlin,
208 pages

(page 3 of 25)

August laughed again at Ray's insight. “Yeah, well that may be. That may be.”

“What happened to your father?”

“Oh, he didn't have it bad. I mean, of course he was heartbroken. All he ever wanted to be was a lector; it was all he knew. But still, he was in Miami; he was educated. He found work as a salesman. He was good too. Encyclopedias, pots and pans, he was always coming home with some new gadget to sell. But after being a lector, he only just worked for money, not for the joy of it. He sent as much money as he could back to the relatives.

“Have you ever wanted to go back there?”

“I did, twice.”

“Isn't that illegal?”

“Ha! Fuck 'em! I have a right to see my family, don't I? Of course you can't get a flight from here to there—just sixty miles away. No, I had to go all the way to goddamn Canada, then fly all the goddamn way back! Crazy right? What I don't understand is how can a system that's supposedly good—made up of people who are mostly good—prevent food and medicine from getting to those who need it?—kids especially. And we have these warehouses here just filled to the brim with extra food—we're paying farmers not to grow stuff. Governments are all the same. I don't give a shit what you call it, capitalism, communism, socialism. It's all bullshit. It's just the strong living off the weak. No system is good if it allows bad things to happen to kids just to preserve itself. I know that's kind of a simple way of looking at it but it's true all the same.”

“So what's the answer?”

“I don't know. I was hoping you could tell me.”

In the silence, August reached his hand across the front seat and smiled. “August, August Cotton, musician—and no philosopher. Ha!”

“Ray Waldron. Nice to meet you, August. I guess I should tell you I'm going to Miami.”

“I'm only going as far as Key Largo. I'm gonna spend the day with my daughter and her little boy. If you can get yourself a ride to Homestead, about forty miles from where I'm going, from there you can hop on the Metro bus, that'll take you right downtown Miami for about two bucks. It's about a three hour trip, though. You gotta be anywhere soon?”

“I was trying to get to the bank today, but I'm not going to make it before they close. Maybe I can stay somewhere cheap till tomorrow.”

“Cheap? Near Miami? Ha! Your best bet is to head for the Glades Hostel in Florida City. They'll put you to work, but you'll get a bed and a decent meal. They're good people there; they never turn away a traveler. If you can't make it that far tonight, your best bet is to camp out near the tomato fields and head to Miami in the morning. You have a tent?”

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About Bill McLaughlin

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Bill McLaughlin was born in the later half of the last century. He has worked as a freelance journalist and independent radio producer. After spending more than a decade as an itinerant writer and gardener, living and traveling in a 1973 VW camper bus, he now homesteads in upstate New York where he hauls water, chops wood, and ponders the Rights of...read more Nature, late frosts, and black flies.


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