Breakfasts in mountain towns

Fresh off the blistered plains families perch on the edge of restaurant chairs, sip at alpine air. The boy's face is red from scrubbing, hair smoothed and wet, holds comb tracks still. He looks from face to face, exaggerates lip motions when told to ``talk soft.'' Pasty plains faces, eager for peaks, toss dawn comments up and down the table, over his head. Each waits open mouthed for judgment. They will look up soon. This is the preparatory feast. The tip is carefully calculated. He has learned it is to be left under the saucer of someone's forgotten coffee.

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