Dreams of a Plebe

Written in response to: Set your story in the lowest rated restaurant in town.... view prompt


Historical Fiction Fiction Black

Dark smoke of large particulate nature. Condensed Steam splattered across the Transparent Glass Window, rendering it translucent. The Windows were paned by Aluminum -- the only material depicting costliness and class in the entire premise. Here, the cooking system remained the same for ten years: time passed, things changed, but here the exception was embodied and the rule non-existent. 

The Trash Bin outside the premise seemed to have been long overdue for emptying but the restaurant owners had contrary intentions. These intentions were unintentional, as there had been, in this locality, no defined system of waste disposal for decades. And this reality was one well capitalized on by the roadside strugglers whose continuance in the sphere of existence was predicated upon the door-to-door and joint to joint trips they made as they, to the best of their strengths, laboured in order to congregate items no longer of relevance to dump them - in a vast expanse of uninhabited land - for a certain fee. 

The Trash-mover would stand in extreme stupefaction as he worked, full of thoughts on why people would let go of things which still seemed to be of use. This to him, was the curse of wealth. He would curse himself and the inordinate ordinances of the universe which enthroned him on the seat of disdain subject to the remarks of condescendence from his impermanent bosses. These ones would always discard things which could still be used and sometimes, repaired. These items ranged from old Telephone lines to Black and White Television sets which - according to Science and the vogue associated with its consistent advancement - are subject to loss of relevance per time, per advancement. And in this fact, the Trash-mover and his fate seemed to be sworn and auspiciously intertwined for a life worthy of envy, yet hard to believe.

His life of disdain changed the very first day he stepped into the restaurant that never seemed to want to change. The only indication of change in this premise was the age of the attendants who were rumoured to be the owners of the Restaurant for the pathetic.

The now Ex Trash-mover approached this same Restaurant where he had been for the first time in a decade: and as he pushed open the Door handle which was stained by a slab of grease admixed with dust and rust by the many hands that had ventured into this same premise, he wondered if the plebians and the lowlife half of the community ate the meal with their bare hands. This meal would consist majorly of cheap Burger made with dough which was fried rather than baked rendering the Burger tasteless and crunchy. A decade ago, he had wondered if it was truly cheaper to fry continually than to bake (till he figured out in some unexplainable way how the oil used for frying would possibly never be changed even if the need was evident). Everything here was cheap from the door handle which has lost its grip on the door, to the quality of the Meal. 

Unlike his past life, The Ex Trash-mover now was conscious of cleanliness. He thought of how poverty drove Men to cheapness (which this Restaurant served to epitomize). He also thought of how wealth seemed to lead Men to expenses of exorbitance where money is spent on one item of luxury rather than numerous items of necessities. He thought of the combination -- he thought of how poverty made the rich look like reckless spenders. In all this, his mind was cast to past when he stood as Speaker for the Poor, and the Critic of The Rich. 

The Ex Trash-mover sighed to himself in a moment and thought to himself "a Man speaks from the limitations of his perspective". And this was certainly true for he seemed to see things differently now as he was no longer the famed Trash-mover. He owned a House, Television and Radio sets, portable furniture, a fancy 1929 Roadster pickup, a little farm, and a young lady he intended on getting married to. He believed the very life he characterized was utopian, but, he found it to be true, and real. Now he found it easy to believe the tales archived in The Holy Scriptures which he had always criticized as they spurt from the mouth of rugged looking and aggressively speaking preachers whom he scorned for not looking the part they preached. There and then, he realized the life he had always lived. And not until he set his palm on that failing door handle did he realize how of a truth he spent most of his thoughts engaged in a scorn, scoff and mindless criticisms which ended up void of a productive end -- all directed towards things he neither believed nor understood. He had, to the best of his honesty, perceived himself a sound critic. It was however gleaned from this current introspection that his often well meaning intentions were never constructive, nor yielded any positivity for they all occurred in the confines of his mind which did nothing other than creating an healthy environment for the culturing of wild thoughts.

For how long he stood at the entrance of the restaurant, even time would struggle to tell. But he felt mentally exacerbated at the prospect of walking into that very premise which saw the kick-off of his life changing story. Worse off is the fact that although he is easily repelled by the thoughts which puts to his consciousness his past of scavenging and trash collecting, he still finds walking pass an overheaped trash bin (without doing anything) a difficult task -- who would blame him, he spent a decade and half doing just that. 

Paying no attention to the development of the locality where the Restaurant is based, and how the restaurant depicted an offset of years, he took his strides gently into the premise. "Everything is just the same" he said to himself as he wished he did better in his dressing to conform to the standards demanded of by those who in time past saw this restaurant as fit to be patronized, those who presently patronized this place out of absence of choice, those who would eventually make their way into this slum, and many others scattered across the face of Earth whose societal status suited no place asides this. The only thing which differed was the populace of clients in this hole. This place flattered to deceive, as it created the impression depicting fewer plebians plied the Earth. This was not the case. This locality had enjoyed so great a rapid rise in development, ones such as he was years ago has had to move out to survive. Those kind of people never reduced. Within them was the strongest genes for survival - nature had chosen these ones - and they multiplied like sheep. 

Therefore, if anything was impressive about this place, it was its ability to beat the Years it contained. Whether this was based on the sheer ageless and immortal quality inherent in the fabric of the existence of this very premise, or the attendant's desires to maintain the statutory standards for years spurred them give in to thorough maintenance schemes, no one will ever know. The only known thing of a fact is what remains, is what had always been. The plywood walls free from fungus but dampened by the effervescent steam from the local coal pots, low wooden benches of equal lengths but varying widths to suit the sizes of its occupants furnished the place. A shut off corner where orders are received and granted was carved out. Numerous windows which according to the Ex Trash-mover, was the wisest thing about this place, were a sign of cheapness, as they attempted saving up on materials for building by leaving numerous gaping spaces to be covered by detachable window boards when the restaurant is closed -- if it ever does. 

He took his strides carefully as he made to seat at the very spot he had, the very first time he set foot into this world. The attendant came over to ask him that same banal question "what would you like?" He responded with a "Not yet" as he let the years roll by before his face like a flash as he recalls the occurrences of that auspicious day. 

The conversations of that very day, he remembered. He recalled how the Man in a Gardener's overall jacket complained of his boss who would order the disposal of Apples and Cherries with the slightest spot as he plead on deaf ears the possibility of these fruits being sold at cheaper prices. The Chef who stood to speak, had his hat on the opposite table and his apron still on, cried a similar complaint as he spoke of how his master's dogs were privileged to eating better meals than his children as these meals are remnants which could still be adequately preserved for future consumption, but isn't because the family only eat a meal immediately after its preparation for consumption. The Carpenter seated at a shut off corner gulping down ales of Beer said nothing new as he detailed how he was oft commissioned to change the furnitures several times a year only because this family must depict a status of well-to-do whenever they hosted community meetings of high ranking economic importance. He spoke of how he recycled seventy percent of old materials to create new furnitures as he bills them as though he made new ones from the scratch.

There were worse things to share and complain of than the wealth and spending patterns of those with a stronger financial muscle than you posses. The Trash-mover felt spurred to criticize the poorly prepared meals, but he realized he and others around him deserved no more than that which was laid before them. Restaurants as this, serves to be the reason for the existence of the lowlifes and plebes. The plebes were still a market for someone, and they still had a place to source that which would satisfy the need of their bellies. Despite how glaring it was on the superficials of their eyeballs, deep down, they had a distaste for that which they were being served. But they all knew it took value to obtain value. And proper initial value was that which they lacked. So it made more sense to them, to criticize that which they do not have, because it was the same thing they do not understand. 

The Trash-mover ate his cheap, crunchy Burger as he listened to the wails of those who shared the same pathetic condition of existence and disdain with him. Tales of Men and their ungrateful wives. Tales of Men and their wives who left them. Tales of Men and their children with exorbitant bills under the context of school fees. He would hear of how each Man seemed to struggle with his life and how another tried to convince this temporal association that his own condition is sadder than any shared so far. 

The Trash-mover realized every Man had a story to tell and while most were eager to tell and rid their hearts of the toxic reality that befell them, and while it was comforting to have companion in distress, there were others who chose to ply the path of reticence: and this was the club he pitched to be a fan of. As he listened, he thought of how it seemed paradoxical to find Wisdom in the trenches, and reality in the ghettoes. His mind was filled with thoughts that pondered on the possibility of schemes taught in Business schools and Financial seminars. He realized that one thing was common with the Gardener, Baker, Carpenter and many others who shared their tales -- the fact that they lived off the remnants of the wealthy. He thought of the fact that every person might be limited to the waste of his own Department, but he being the Trash-mover, was privy to almost all facets. He knew he had a huge job ahead of him but he was sure of one thing -- he had a found a jackpot to life. And while the process might be painfully slow, he would dedicate all he could to build something substantial. It all made sense why company representatives still plied the waste site -- the waste still had value after all. It finally made sense how people sold old, used vehicles. 

He felt proud of how despite the others criticized the Wealthy to an ale of Beer, he learned how he could garner enough for himself if he wisely ensured the waste wisely passed through his hands. He got lost in thoughts, permutations, simulated conditions on how he would be the Man he dreams of becoming, if not precisely, but becoming someone worthwhile. He would build his empire slowly from the scratch. "While my partners in suffering complain and criticize, I will build slowly.."

Buzzing. Biting. More buzzing. And definitely, more bites. He woke suddenly to insect attacks in the shapeless shack he called Home. A reminder that it was not yet a reality. He was not yet The Ex Trash-mover, he was still The Trash-mover. He cursed himself in tears as hoped one day it would become more than what it is currently -- a dream. He got up as he aimed to continue moving from door-to-door.

April 13, 2022 01:02

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Precious Nwokpe
12:16 Apr 14, 2022

That ending ended me 😑 I guess I should've known from the title 😂, but you covered it up so well in the plot 🙂


Precious Nwokpe
12:17 Apr 14, 2022

What about the lady he intended to marry? She was a dream too? 🌝


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Emmanuel Bakare
22:26 Apr 18, 2022

That was the intention. I'm glad it ended you.


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