Monday, June 19, 2006

Fort Stockton, Texas


s I walk across East Dickenson to the Mi Casita restaurant—which I have chosen because its parking lot has pickup trucks blocking in other pickup trucks, next to still more pickup trucks—a junk dealer looks up at me from his plastic lawn chair. He doesn't look happy to see me. He's missing a tooth, and his "shop" is a rolling door with an unsorted blob of used consumer items oozing out.

"What happened to your car?" he sneers.

Inside the restaurant, I wait in the "foyer" between the inner and outer doors, until there are no more regulars left to sit. The head waitress is back from Odessa, where she goes to college, and lots of "Where ya been?"s echo across the dining room. She knows most everyone by name. Periodically, the other waitress brings a small paper cup of rainbow sherbet, for free, to patrons who look like they've finished.

The Mi Casita menu lists both dishes and their ingredients, and the chile relleno is one of the two dishes without meat. It comes reasonably quickly; and when it does, next to the spot of rice and the spot of beans is a pyramid of ground beef. The chile is underneath.

I scrape the meat away, eat, and tell the waitress that everything is really excellent.

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