Charles “Chunk” Kagalis, Jr. – Famine
The food court was crowded and Charles Kagalis, Jr., Chunk to his friends, sat at a table by himself and watching the people who passed by as he ate. He finished a chicken biscuit and pinched the crumbs from the wrapper as a woman pushing a double stroller and carrying a giant diaper bag tried to navigate her way between the close tables. She swung the front of the stroller back and forth, trying to move chairs out of her way as her twin boys jostled back and forth. When she had waded far enough out the busy lane of traffic that she seemed to be satisfied, she kicked the parking break on the stroller, sat down, dragged a nearby table closer to her and hoisted the diaper bag up onto it. It listed to one side and a half empty baby bottles tumbled out, rolled across the table and hit the tiled floor with ‘sklosh’ as it split open and chugged its contents into the dirty grout. The woman swore and her two sons started cry.
Chunk squeezed the last of a condiment packet duck sauce onto the mutilated end of an egg roll as he watched a couple argue as they came down the escalator holding his and hers Gap bags. She seemed exhausted and embarrassed while he appeared to be going off about her mother. She was wearing a khaki skirt and tight blouse that Chunk could just make out her nipples through. He was wearing khaki pants and a polo shirt stretched so thin over her gym membership chest that Chunk could make out his nipples as well. As they stepped off the escalator, she shoved her Gap bag at him and stormed off. He carried both Gap bags and chased after her apologizing.
Chunk soaked up the last of the marinara in a little plastic container with a stub of pizza crust and saw a massive black woman waiting in line at the coffee cart. Her bright red dress looked like a hot air balloon with a v-neck. Every few seconds she would shift her weight from one tree trunk sized leg to the other and Chunk though the saw the heels of her tight shoes bow out with the additional strain. She kept looking at her watch and seemed to be whispering to herself as she slowly made her way to the front of the line. She ordered and stepped away holding a shot of espresso that looked so small in her fat hands that it looked like someone had shoved a thimble into a loaf of bread.
Chunk nibbled it the burnt crust left on his corn dog stick as he spotted a kid that reminded him of his friend Travis. The kid wore baggy black cargos like the ones Chunk was wearing and his hair stood out in perfectly straight pillars of purple. His eyeliner was so thick that Chunk didn’t realize he wasn’t wearing glasses until he was right up close and gauged lobe holes held open by shiny pink rings were big enough to throw a tennis ball through. The distinct shape of the CDs he just stolen were easy to spot under his t-shirt and Chunk wondered if the kid had demagnetizer like the one Gwen had made at school. The kid saw Chunk looking at him and nodded. The kid had nodded up so Chunk was obliged to nod down and this made him angry. It was bad enough he had to put up with Travis’s shit; now he was taking shit from some deusch bag at the mall.
He picked at the hardened cheese stuck to the bottom of the empty paper tray of fries and saw a guy that was so old he looked as if he might be dead and didn’t know it. He seemed to have no idea where he was going or how he got to the mall and he was carrying a small bag from radio shack. Chunk assumed the guy had needed batteries for his universal remote or replacements for his hearing aid and thought he would pop into the mall real quick and pick them up. He probably had thought that the mall would be empty in the middle of the day and the old Jew probably had no idea it was two weeks before Christmas. He tried to make his way past the front of Hovan and ended up accidentally standing in line for more than a minute before he realized his mistake and hobbled off toward the doors.
Chunk turned the empty wrapper of a soft taco inside out and licked out the glob of bean and cheese hiding there in the crease as he heard the machine gun chatter of six people speaking Spanish all at once. He turned and saw a gaggle of Mexicans milling around a cell phone kiosk. They were all very dark, very short and wearing variations of the same dirty jeans and plaid work shirts. Two of them stood staring at the display of new phones like German kids at a candy shop window while two others pretended they didn’t speak English and tried very hard to screw the clerk out of his commission. Another Mexican stood a few feet away talking on a phone that appeared to belong to the last guy who was motioning to him to hang up and give it back. Chunk didn’t speak Spanish, but he didn’t need to know that the one Mexican was very unhappy about the other Mexican using up his precious minutes.
Chunk sucked the last dregs of chocolate mint ice cream from the severed end of his waffle cone as he saw that the woman with the twins had resorted to nursing her boys in public. She had draped a blanket over herself, but from where Chunk sat he had a clear shot of the drowsy infant working the woman’s tit for every drop it was worth. She looked around as if she was just passing the time while Chunk beheld the majesty of her swollen boob. He was close enough to see the road map of blue veins beneath a topography of thin, jagged stretch marks. He had just started to consider whether the woman had ever tried to feed both of the tiny brothers at the same time by offering each their own boob when he noticed the woman noticing him noticing her exposed breast and looked away.
He licked his thumb and dabbed up the remnants of salt on the table left behind by a giant soft pretzel as he spotted the big clock in the middle of the food court and realized that the little hand pointed to the four. He was still hungry, but he had promised to meet his friend Brooke downtown and still had a bus to catch. He stood up, started to gather up the trash and said; “Fuck it,” out loud. The nursing prude sitting across from him shot him a nasty look and he said, “You cuss worse than me, lady, I heard you,” and walked away from the table leaving a pile of empty paper wrappers and cardboard trays.