Homer Rubik watched Michael exit the subway and then returned to wrestling with Angels & Demons.  Michael had got off at Keele.  His own station, Runnymede, was just a few stops later.  He just had time to read one more paragraph.   
     Homer had a job as a cook at a fast food restaurant and right now he was on his way to work.  Work was the preparation of a hundred breakfasts.  Bacon and eggs.  Bacon and sausage.  BLTs.  Toasted Westerns.  Pancakes.  Toast and coffee.  Toast and tea.  Coffee and Danish.  Muffins.   Then at 11:30, work shifted slightly to become the preparation of a hundred lunches.  Hamburgers and Cheeseburgers.  Fries.  Home fries.  Grilled cheese sandwiches.  BLTs.  Chicken salad sandwiches.  Ham and cheese sandwiches.   Fish and chips.  Meat Loaf.  Liver and Onions—which nobody ever ordered.  Strip loin steaks—which also nobody ordered.   
     There were two soups—a daily soup, which was always the same and seemed to have something to do with chicken and rice, and a more or less eternally available tomato soup—red as a stoplight and thin as water.  Homer didn’t of course make the soups.  They were brought in. 
     There were a few desserts listed on the blackboard: rice pudding, jello, and slices of rapidly mineralizing pies—coconut cream, cherry and blueberry.  They didn’t sell many desserts.  A rice pudding sometimes.  An occasional dish of rubbery jello.  The pies were left to fossilize.
     Homer hated food.  The greasy-spoon standards were all he was really capable of making.  He was glad the place didn’t offer French toast or crepes or anything weird and fussy like that.  He’d have been dismissed.
     The subway sighed into the Runnymede station.  Homer slipped his book into his briefcase and lumbered towards the door.  The clock on the platform read 6:45 a.m.   In five minutes he’d be firing up the grill.  It’d be hot as hell in the kitchen.  At 7am the place would open, and he’d start cooking.  By 3:30pm, the end of his shift, he’d have cooked six times his own weight of the stuff.  His stomach churned at the thought of it.  And he had the same thought every morning.
     Homer didn’t have any friends at the diner.  The Italian guy who owned the place hated him and found crude but effective ways to demonstrate his distaste for him.   There was a cop who came in sometimes.  Officer Sweetman.  Brice Sweetman.  He just had a coffee, never anything to eat.  He’d wave at Homer, standing over his turgid grill like a cloudbank rising up over a hot, stagnant lake.
     “Hi Homer, how’s it goin’?  Cooking up a storm?”
     Homer tried to grin but the grin sort of twisted and hurt his face.
     “Oh yeh.  Cookin’ all the time!”
    “But,” officer Sweetman observed acutely, “not at the moment.”
     Homer looked down at his quiet, congealing grill.
     “Not just at this exact moment, no,” Homer replied.
Just then the door opened and a hefty young woman came blustering in, dragging a small bottlebrush dog behind her.  She picked up the dog, scooped up a candy bar from the rack beside the cash register, tore off the paper and shoved it into the dog’s face.
     “Your lucky day, Fish!” she boomed.  “A Crispy Crunch bar!”
     Homer grinned at her.
     “Hi Bliss!”
     “Howdy Chef,” she replied.  “What’s special today?  Aside from the fact that I’m patronizing this crummy joint in the first place?”
     “How about breakfast?”
     “A brilliant idea,” Bliss guffawed.  “I never would have thought of that!”
     “So do you want some?”
     “Sure,” said Bliss. “Lots of it.”
     Fish, having wolfed down his Crispy Crunch bar, turned and, cocking his back leg, pissed copiously against the counter stool where Officer Sweetman was sitting with his coffee. 
     “You shouldn’t let him do that,” he said to Bliss.
     “Oh for Chrissake, Brice,” Bliss told him, “he missed your pant leg, didn’t he!” 
     Officer Sweetman looked to see.  Fish growled at him.
     “You realize you’re going to end up in jail some day, don’t you, Bliss?
     Bliss laughed.
     “Are you kidding?  I’m going to end up running for Mayor some day!”
     Homer looked up from his frying bacon.
     “Right after the current Mayor is totally finished with the job, right Bliss?” he asked her.
     She grinned at him and also at Officer Sweetman.
     “Or even before that,” she told them.