I lie in bed, a tall, skinny girl of 10 years old, powerless and puny. Since I didn’t feel well, I stayed in my room. Excused from answering Daddy’s calls, “Hey, get us another beer.”
Sounds of Mama, Daddy, and his drinking buddies drifted in
from the living room.
I didn’t like to lay in bed, but at least I wasn’t Daddy’s little waitress for the men with groping hands. I was safe in bed, and hungry. Not not up to par, but hardly ever so sick I didn’t want to eat. I had dreams of a big, fat, juicy hamburger, with ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, lettuce and tomato. Better yet, on a toasted bun. Mama fed us, and always managed, with her small food budget, to keep her family from going hungry. We survived on beans, macaroni and brown bananas. With an occasional pork chop or a burger. A neighbor who worked in a grocery store kept us supplied with outdated bananas. For special treats, Mama made the most delicious banana bread, and home-made pies with those spotted bananas.
Daddy never went hungry. He made Mama cook for him every night. Around 2:30 am., after the bars closed, he’d drag in and order Mama to get out of bed and cook a T-bone, or a Porterhouse. The aroma of steak and mushrooms rolled in our room. The only thing us kids ever got was a whiff to savor. Daddy worked hard through the week, and needed his nourishment, so the steak was only for him. I’d never sampled his delicacy, but I longed for a big fat, juicy hamburger.
The sound of someone coming into my bedroom startled me out of my daydreams. A man peeked around the curtain. Oh, no, not another one of Daddy’s drunken friend’s to fear. He came closer, but not too close. He acted friendly, but in a rather genuine way.
“Hi kiddo.” he said. “Are you flaked out in here? Or are you still movable?”
“I’m OK,” I managed to whisper, grateful he wasn’t trying to touch me.
“Do you need anything?” He asked.
“No, I’m fine.”
“Don’t worry,” he said, “I’m not going to hurt you. I wanted to make sure you’re alright, and find out if you’re thirsty, or hungry?”
“Well, I squeaked, “I’d like a hamburger with the works.” Dork, now where do you think he’s going to get a hamburger?
“A hamburger?” He laughed. “I thought you were sick?”
He turned and left the room.
I must have dozed off for a few minutes when someone surprised me and pulled back the curtain. The polite man from earlier had returned. A Divine fragrance filled the room, coming from a bag he carried. He walked over next to my bed, “Here,” he smiled, “special made, just for you.” He handed the brown sack to me, turned, and hurried out of my bedroom.
I tore open the bag and pulled out a huge hamburger. Super thick beef, resting between a freshly toasted bun. Melted yellow cheese ran out the sides of the still warm burger. Mustard, ketchup, relish, lettuce, tomato and a thin slice of white onion rested on top of the meaty ground beef. Unbelievably juicy. My mouth barely fit around the burger, but I managed, and it tasted scrumptious. Eating was messy, but flavorful, and so worth all the drips. Daddy’s T-bone couldn’t compare to the grilled giant.
Honestly, the most awesome hamburger I ever had, even to this day, many years later. But, more important, the man who came into my room with no intentions of harming me, touched my soul. He wanted to do something to help a lonely, sick, child. He left his drinking friends—and he didn’t grab a quick McDonald’s kiddie meal—he drove to the nearest restaurant, waited while they cooked his order, and hand delivered it back to me.
I don’t remember his name, but I will never forget his kindness. “Thank you, whoever you are. You made an impact in the life of one sad little girl. To this day, whenever I eat a hamburger, memories flood back of you.”