Jack finally made it to the white banquet table under the entrance covering, snagged a cardboard food boat loaded with fettuccine alfredo flecked with bits of bacon, baked broccoli, and a cheese bun, a plastic fork stabbed into the pasta. Bob talked him into a triple-chocolate brownie baked the day before by a volunteer who was inside, dishing up the meals. He grabbed an orange and a water and squatted by the oak in the parking lot where he had planted Neil the day before.
The fettuccine was excellent, the bun a perfect compliment. He scanned the crowd as he ate and thought of the executives in high rises a few miles north. Some of them might have had this same meal last night from the restaurant that had donated it, sitting at a cloth-draped table with fancy silverware and a high-dollar wine.
The highest and the lowest dining on the same meal in very different circumstances. Two races living in the same town but existing in different worlds, yet as interconnected as two strands of DNA twisted together, separated by chance, circumstances, and choices. It was as if there were two different countries existing on the same continent, both human and seeing the other as monsters.
And then there was the middle, the working-class majority unlikely to ascend to the top of the ladder, but who could miss a rung and end up at the bottom. The rising star derailed by an unexpected diagnosis. The trusting homemaker blindsided by a sudden divorce. The promising kid who bombs a test and decides to run away instead of facing the music, unaware that he has taken the first step from one world into another that he had no idea existed.