I watch as the man chews. He chews big, big, big and then tiny (chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp). He bites into the gooey cheese sandwich, jaws locking and popping as he tries to force the whole-grain bread into his mouth. A smash of the fingers is now imprinted in the risen wheat. It goes in with ease. The creamy white cheese spread is slowly slipping along the spittle and making its way to the corners of his muted rosy lips.
There is a crunch of the lettuce, a tear of the veins. I watch as his scattered salt and pepper hairs do their best to cover the shiny skin stretched across his head. But there’s just too much surface area and not enough seasoning to fill it. Another smash, bite, lock, pop, crunch, tear. He chews big, big, big. The salt and pepper wires sticking out snake their way along his forehead, trying to cover more and more. But they can’t, so they retreat from the nose, away from the softly wrinkled brow in a river-like pattern. The freckle just above his left temple—the one that is the color of the deep red sun when it sets above an indigo ocean and a flock of gulls passes by, their black silhouettes elegant phantoms in the sky— is pulsing ever so slightly above a blue vein beneath the surface as he chews.
The sandwich is gone. He took his last bite without realizing it was the last. He pulls out a newspaper, the ink sticking to his thumbs. He highlights the dips and swirls and crevices that belong only to him. He smacks, smacks, smacks—trying to get that last, lingering taste. The sandwich is gone, its wrapper tucked into the seat-back pocket for some other weary traveler to find. He reads, and the freckle rests.
Amy Gutierrez lives in Austin,Texas, with her dog Stella.