Across Continents

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Heart attack on a plate

October 16th, 2011

It was un-mistakenly what Esther, with whom I’d stayed back in the Central Asian city of Bishkek, would have described as a heart attack on a plate. Bacon and fried egg sandwich. With fries. I’d loved her description of North American road house fare as much, I thought, as she’d enjoyed some of my pet phrases and little quips.

Everything in moderation of course, and after Hungry Hill, lentils and lettuce wouldn’t have worked. There’d been a swift, flowing descent into Houston, a small cafe next to a busy gas station. A sign on the door said "Happy Birthday Elaine!". It begged me to enter. Staff or regular customer. Which would it be?

My server was Aubray. She’d worked there since the local sawmill had closed. Elaine was in the kitchen, soon to finish her shift and head off to celebrate her twenty-first.

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Hungry Hill

October 16th, 2011

He continued his rummaging in the bins, pausing occasionally to pull out the odd plastic bottle. Tossing it into the back of a smart pick-up. His wife looked on. I sat a short distance away, sipping tepid coffee from my small flask. She looked embarrassed.

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I’d pulled into a small rest area close to the summit of Hungry Hill. Close on three thousand feet. Not especially steep, but drawn out over quite a few miles. Signs at the bottom explaining how to fit snow chains, not that they were needed today. Another sunny autumnal day.

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The rummagers moved off to other bins on the other side of the highway. I wandered over to the nearby "Hungry Hill Grizzlies" sign. Tales of a dangerous Grizzly christened The Phantom. Which seemed apt, since, as ever, there was a single bear to be seen. Not that I was in a hurry to stow my deterrent spray.

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