By Joshua Ryan
The Haute Cuisine de Paris Select Tour … Mike had finally agreed to book it … I was lingering on a foggy street on the Ile Saint-Louis … Then from somewhere — some seventeenth century house? Some charming local church? — a bell was clanging. “Cmon,” Mack said. “Ain’t got all day.” He was already on his way to the shit holes, where a line had formed — a line of identical packages of rocklike muscles dressed in identical boxers and tees. A dream, and a nightmare.
I was one of the last to get to the holes, so I was glad I’d shat my guts out the night before, and all I needed to do was piss. I didn’t bother to line up for the sink. I went back to my bunk and started turning myself into the image of Mack, who had already dressed.
I can’t say they didn’t give us enough time. It was all hurry up and wait for our turn at the Chow Hall. While waiting, the workies shot the shit with each other, paying no attention to me. They weren’t interested anymore. I wasn’t new. I just stood by my bunk until Boss Web yelled, “Awright, make your line!” and we all marched off to the chow palace. Bill of fare: egg and cheese on bun, grits on the side. Hearty food! What you’d get in a fast food place, if the place was about to be closed by the health inspectors. Also a cup of coffee. No cream, no sugar, but the first coffee I’d had since I signed those papers. By the time I got through with it, I was so high that Ace came up beside me and said, “Coffee. It happened to me too. My first day. Watch your step. I don’t want you havin any accidents.”