There is no way to tell his story without telling my own. And if his story really is a confession, then so is mine. I’d been trapped in a rush behind the counter for… how long? I’ve forgotten now. That’s how time goes in this place… You arrive with some idea of how long you’ll have to serve for, but soon enough you forget that. As soon as you’re on the front line you’re not thinking about how long you’ve got left to survive, you’re thinking of the fastest way out. And that was me, thinking of a way out.
I didn’t know what time it was. Charlie knew. He could always see it from his angle. He was a regular customer around this end, because he was always there… waiting for us.
Most men take their time here, careful to know what they want. They were like me. Made of blood. It runs thick and slow through their minds like the time it took them the decide. And in that time Charlie was done. He’d jump ahead. She flowed quick and fast like water, unable to get a hold of.
Have you ever considered what a man really needs? Charlie knows this. You don’t, because the blood is pumping through your head like me. I’ve only come to realise by observing Charlie that… all a man really needs is lunch.
Whatever is on special that day with any bread will do, Charlie isn’t picky. No…AND he skips toasting because he know it won’t change anything. Most men think that toasting will help change their lunch somehow, but they’re wrong. They don’t realise that in the end- it’s all just …lunch.
All the salads, he doesn’t care- he can pick them off… one by one. Until they’re all gone. He doesn’t even have sauce. You have to stop for sauce. You can’t take it all, because it will destroy the your lunch in the end. I’ve seen… horrors. Horrors that you’ve been told of. These men came into the store and ordered all of the mayo on their lunch… I remember one of them ran back inside… mayo dripping from his fingers… he took all the napkins. All of them… Later I remember seeing them, covered in mayo in a pile. A little pile of napkins. And, I remember, I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. There was a bin right next to them.
And then I realized, like I was shot, like I was shot with a diamond bullet through my forehead. And I thought, MY GOD. The genius… The genius of this one act. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realised Charlie was stronger than we. To choose a lunch based not on what he felt like, but upon what he knew he needed. A lunch that he needed.
If I had… 30 men like Charlie… Our lunch rush troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are hungry… and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to eat without feeling… without choosing… without judgment… without judgment. Because it’s judgment that defeats us.