tagNon-Erotic PoetrySour Milk Omelet w/ Pea’s n’ Cheese

Sour Milk Omelet w/ Pea’s n’ Cheese


Sour Milk Omelet with Pea's n' Cheese

If you are on your way
 From New York to L.A.
The old Route 66 was the road of choice
And at some point where Nevada
And California intersect
At a deserted crossway
There's a worn sign that says
"Eats," if you go up the road a bit,
Where the blacktop turns to gravel
You will find The Atomic Café

If you blink at the crossroads
You're sure will pass it by
The broken tarmac is the sign
That others have also sought to find
The Atomic Café

My mother was a waitress
Who doubled as a cook
She had her own invention
She didn't learn it from a book
She called it a sour milk omelet
Sour milk with cheese and peas
It might not sound real good
But most folks it did please

My mother left us
She deserted
When Annie and I were kids
She disappeared one morning
Without any warning
My dad was working at Lockheed
A metal mechanic on the Jet Star
Came home that night to find
Annie in dirty diapers
Me, in the corner playing Jaxs

We never knew who took her
Or if she simply left
People out west disappear
Taken by rapists or crazy men
Locked in a cell and never seen again
Pop had found a note
With the single word "goodbye"
And a little mushroom drawn below
I never ever saw him
With a smile after that day

Annie and I grew up
As time will have its way
We never understood our loss
Or why mom went away
Pop raised us with his sister Kate
Who came to live with us
She stayed till we were in high school
Then she took the bus
Back to care for her mom
Who had a massive stroke
She wrote us lots of letters
I still send her a hundred
Every time I feel flush

Annie married Tommy Joe
Who drove a bus for the city
They moved out to the valley
I worked odd jobs
Got in a little community college
Eventually became an accountant
Was hired by a hotel firm
To come out to a big resort in Nevada
For a well paying job
Dad had another ten years before retirement
But he said,
"Just go, it's time to see the world"

Before I left I sat down and asked him
As I had on other occasions
"What do you think happened to Mom?"  
He said,
"I'm sure she's was out there somewhere
She was a sensitive soul
She was an activist back in the 40's
Involved in peace demonstrations before they became popular
Went up to Sacramento with a bunch of commies
Well I don't know if they were commies or leftists or what
She got grabbed at the governor's mansion
By the FBI, CIA, local cops, who the hell knows?
When she came back here she would not talk about it
But still protested like crazy
Until they dropped the A-bomb
On Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Never quite the same after that
It was as if she felt guilty
For something she had nothing to do with
Except her picketing
For a big motor-mouth
All of a sudden she was quiet
Just sat in the kitchen making omelets
For breakfast, dinner all the time
You remember those sour milk omelets
With cheese and peas
Then she was gone
Never wrote
Left you kids without a word
Where she went, I don't know
Perhaps it was for the best
But I just don't know"

So I set out for my new job driving a Ford Galaxy Convertible 1960
Cherry red colored and bench seat roomy
Enough for a few people and clothes too
I was kind of hungry having left early that morning
Saw a sign worn and bleak "Atomic Café"
I pulled off the road
The desert sand was shining
Must have been near
Where they tested the A-bomb
Back before they dropped'em on Japan
Or else why would you call it Atomic Cafe?

I parked on the gravel
Strewn in from of this antique diner
The desert had sand blasted the chrome trim to a dull grey
I wandered in
Took a seat across from the grill
The waitress slapped a coffee on the counter
As I perused the menu
There, under "Breakfast"
Was something I never seen in print
"Sour milk omelet with peas and cheese"

"What's this?" I said to the young gal behind the counter
"Oh that's Hazel's special
Folks seem to like it even though it don't sound good"
"Yeah you're right about that
But I'll give it a try"
"Hazel," the gal shouted and an older
Women with a cigarette dangling from her lip
Came out from the back
"Peas and cheeser"
"Ok, hon"
Hazel started by breaking three eggs in a bowl
Threw in a teaspoon of white flour
Some salt and pepper and added some sour milk
Gave it a whisk
Poured it gently on the sizzling buttered griddle
As the eggs took form  
She spooned some canned green peas
Layered them over with yellow cheese
As it firmed she flipped the sides over the top as the griddle hissed
The cheese and steam fought to escape
Scooped it up and laid it on a plate
Then she turned to me
I looked hard at that wrinkled face
With familiar but now vacant eyes
The hair once gold had turned grey
The pouty lips
I knew at last
Where Mom had gone to stay
At the Atomic Café

I didn't say a word
My mind was all confused
I ate the meal without a question
Hazel disappeared and the young waitress appeared
"Where are you from?" I asked
"Oh I was born forty miles from here near the army base"
"And the cook?"
"Don't know, she don't talk much
They say she wandered in some twenty years ago
Carry'en the "cook wanted" sign
That's what they told me
She's never left
Lives out back in a trailer
That's all I know
Why 'd you ask"?
"Oh, just curious I guess
Really none of my business
It's just that she looked
Like an old neighbor of my dad"

I paid the bill and left a tip
Took a post card worn and faded
From the clipboard on the wall with a picture of the Atomic Cafe
"How much for the card?"
"Oh you can have it, mister""

I wandered out on the gravel
The rocks and stones crunching under my feet
Got back in the car
Turned the radio on
No stations this far out in the desert
Just some Bible clap from some nut
Broadcasting from atop a service station
I passed on the way north to my destination
But I didn't turn the radio off
I just didn't want to be alone any more

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