Mr. Hong

It was now half past one, and the burger in front of Kim only had a single bite.

“Right,” Hong said, barely listening to his friend’s verbal diarrhea.  He was still harping on the fishing trip he took with his son, about how the boy almost drowned, even though nothing bad actually happened, even though it was now over three weeks ago.

“I had this dream last night,” Kim said.  “Everything was under water, you know, like Atlantis or something, and I see my son…”

Hong didn’t want to be rude, but he saw no other choice.  “You gonna eat your hamburger, Kim, or what?”

“Huh?”

Hong pointed at the round sesame bun.

“Oh,” Kim said, looking down at his plate, almost surprised at the food in front of him.  “You in a hurry, Hong?”

For a moment, Hong wished he were a more impetuous man, the kind of person who’d stand up so fast that his chair would kick out behind him.  Then without a word he would stomp out of Hometown Grill, leaving Kim with his jaw wide open, not caring that every eye was on him.

“No,” Hong said, “no hurry.”

“You want some?”  Kim grabbed his burger with both hands and began the messy process of tearing it in half.

Hong held up his hand.  “No no, Kim, I’m fine.  You eat.”

While his friend chomped at his burger, Hong picked at the few French fries left on his plate.  All the whole ones were gone, so only the rejects remained, slivers burned black, stumps oozing grease.  He knew things would change once Kim’s family arrived, but he hadn’t expected their weekly Saturday lunches to be ruined like this.  They used to talk about politics, religion, important things about the world, but now the only thing on Kim’s mind was his family, especially his son.

Excerpted from Everything Asian
Graphic by Dawn S. White

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