Old Yang’s Noodle Shop

by Justin Corbitt

It didn’t look like the ashes came from an urn.

I mean, then again, it’s hard to say if that is completely accurate.  I’ve never seen ashes from an urn.  In fact, I don’t think I have ever know anyone to be cremated, or seen the cremation process, or seen the end result.  In short, I can only imagine the remains of someone, who chose to be set on fire once they expired, as a super fine white-gray ash.  More like the sand on a beach at some far off exotic locale than say the end of a burnt up cigarette.

The earthly remains of Mr. Yang’s Noodle Shop did not fit the bill at all.  The charred mass of a skeleton gave no indication of peace.  Dirt and mud mixed and coated the collapsed structure, whilst a cloud of ash and dust hung in the air and settled in little swirling pools.  Burnt, blackened wood debris, still smoldering and sticking out amongst the rebar and shattered glass, gave the ghastly appearance of a broken, misshapen spinal cord, as if the small building had broken its back when it tried to roll around on the ground and put itself out.

Mr. Yang’s Noodle Shop…funny how something so mundane becomes significant only when it’s gone.  The Noodle Shop had been a block from my house growing up my entire life.  I had walked past it everyday as long as I can remember.  It had been a constant.  In a world of variables, as sure as mom’s breakfast in the morning, old Yang’s was something to be taken for granted.  Something that always was and always would be.  Now, on my way to see my parents, I come upon this still smoldering mess, now permanently displaced, and now nothing but a memory from childhood.

I couldn’t take my eyes from this disaster of a gravesite.  My thoughts continued to swirl about much like the settling remains of Old Yang.  I mean…the noodles weren’t even that great and I don’t think I ever met Mr. Yang.  It seems it was a backdrop for what was playing out on a daily basis in my life.  Again, a constant.

If a bedrock foundation like that can be swept away, a constant become a faded variable, it seems most anything in life could disappear.  Variables and constants.  I guess that means there are no constants.  No fixed aspects of the ultimate equation.  I zipped my coat as the wind reminded me it was mid-November.  I shivered, though not from of the cold.

I turned away from the rubble and began making my way toward my parents’ home. With every step the significance of the thoughts I had just had regarding life receded.  Best not to dwell on such things.  I don’t imagine too much good can come from getting all bent out of shape over a burnt up, noodle shop that made shitty noodles.  The truth hurts some times.  I’m sure the coffee they serve at whatever establishment they re-imagine you as will be expensive.

Well Old Yang, you had a good run I guess.  And that is all we can all hope for.