Just A Little Coffee Thing – Fiction Part 2

Photo by Eric BARBEAU on Unsplash

She did notice him, though, when she came out of the door, yelping in surprise as he leaned next to the opening. She didn’t have any more time to get out more than the shriek before Gerrit grabbed her clipboard and pen and tossed it to the counter. She watched the pen roll off just as Gerrit’s palm enclosed around hers and he swung her around in a spin. He pulled her close and slow danced with her to a Crystal Gayle song.

“Gerrit,” Hela protested, pushing on hand against his chest and tugging against the hand he gripped. Her heart was pounding and to say butterflies were taking flight in her stomach was an understatement. She shivered as she felt his other palm, quite warm, settle against her waist.

“What?” was his innocent reply.

Hela did not believe a minute of his wide blue eyes.

“Oh stop struggling. You love this song. You sing it whenever it comes on, you always spin around and glide through like you’re on stage.”

“Twirl.”

“What?”

“I don’t spin, I twirl,” she corrected.

“I beg pardon. You twirl,” he teased, then released her waist to twirl her around again, before catching her and dipping her back. She was laughing but when his face was inches from hers she thought in an instate he might kiss her. His eyes flashed to her open mouth then back to her eyes, but he quickly righted her and they went back to dancing, the song now a one.

“You are stressing too much, Helena, he said, using the name no one ever called her, except for close friends or family. She looked up at him ready to argue and deny it.

“Oh, no, you are not going to get out of this one. I’ve been here three weeks, and you are like a time bomb waiting to go off. Or on pins and needles. I’m not sure which, but you know you are doing amazing, don’t you?”

She stared at him. “Um.” She bit her lip. She always felt like she was falling apart. Snapping at line chefs, getting impatient with the pantry girl, ready to throw her hands up at servers who asked bizarre questions. Constantly thinking about the new menu and the changes in flow. She was mentally exhausted and she felt like she was cracking at the seams.

“You are. You’re keeping things running smooth. You’re good, Hel. You’re a whiz at plating, you can take over the line when one of the guys is in the weeds or goes down. Organized, on your toes, you leave me amazed at how you keep things flowing in this madhouse. You’re already better than you think.”

Hela couldn’t respond. She had hoped someone had noticed. Micah had been her person to work with, but even he had sometimes left her wondering if she was as good as she hoped. She and Gerrit worked well together, like she and Micha could. Quiet, handing each other things as they needed it without even a word. Notes on boards were underlined from agreements; they could bounce ideas off each other like two kids playing catch.

“Obviously you doubt yourself too much.” He gave her a chastising look, as he spun them around. “Stop.”

She wrinkled her nose at him. “Obviously you don’t know how my brain works,” was her caustic reply.

“I do. More than you know.” He grinned, his eyes twinkling. “Now, what was that thing about something sweet?”

 

So part two, mostly because it was a 1200 word document. Thought it might overwhelm you all.  Like I said, I’d like someone I could relate to at night when I close. Currently I can’t relate to anyone. At least on the level I’m at. But one can dream of a dream chef and dream team and someone I might have as a close colleague. One day.

Kate

Just A little Coffee Thing – Fiction Part 1

Photo by Shotlist on Unsplash

The restaurant was empty but for Carlos polishing glasses at the bar and Johnboy mopping the front dining while Hela and Gerrit went over new ideas for the upcoming menu. Prep lists, schedules, ordering, and a menu marked up, crossed out and notes scribbled in the margins. A giant whiteboard leaned against shelves on a prep station and occasionally one or both of them would walk over and scribble something else on the entire menu written out in black dry erase marker. The notes were in red and blue; for Gerrit and Hela, respectively.

Hela had teased Carlos into playing something new tonight. The “Bread” station was on and now the two of them were humming and singing their way through 1970s classic light rock. Ambrosia, Dan Fogelberg, Randy Vanwarmer, and other smooth classics. Hela had finally parted from her whites, slipping into a loose white gauze button down, the front tails tucked into her sensible slacks. She’d pulled out the plethora of bobby pins, groaning at the release of tension from all the metal bits biting into her scalp. A sharp pencil replaced the pins, turning her mass of kinked hair into a messy bun, tendrils brushing her cheeks and neck. She’d also snuck into her locker in the office and grabbed her moka pot. She needed something better than the sludge sitting in the pot for the last two hours since the last guests had left.

She hummed to the music as she heated water on the closest gas range and rooted through the lowboy in the pastry section for her hidden stash of Guatemalan dark roast coffee. Fingers tamped down the grounds, a towel to remove the nearly boiling water. The moka pot was back on a low blue flame as she went out to the bar and snagged four coffee cups. She grabbed some spoons, a carton of cream, a ramekin of sugar, then back over to grab the now spitting pot.

She didn’t see Gerrit watching her quietly from the whiteboard. He held a clipboard and pen where he had been marking the garnishes they had in stock and what he wanted to use next. He grinned, nearly laughing when she groaned after running the base of the pot under cold water at a prep sink. She set the pot down on a towel and marched out to the bar then came back with a shot glass. She measured out two shots of rich coffee to three cups, then glanced up in his direction.

“You want?” she waggled the shot glass in her hand and held the spout over it.

“Sure.”

She poured two more shots and added them to the fourth cup.

“Carlos! Johnboy! Espresso’s up!” She had more water simmering on the stove and she topped off her cup with that, adding a pinch of sugar and a very light dollop of cream. “Fix yours how you like,” she directed at Gerrit.

She stirred her cup while she watched Gerrit add a generous spoonful of sugar and only a splash of water. She made a face when Gerrit downed half the cup. Carlos came through the swinging doors baring a tall highball glass of peach effervescent liquid, a lime wedge suspended between the ice cubes. He handed it to Hela who tilted her head in thanks.

Gerrit frowned.

“Bitters and soda,” She clarified. “I mix my drinks.”

Johnboy and Carlos fixed their coffees and headed back out to the front of house. “I’ll have something sweet in a while,” Hela called after them, Johnboy grinning at her statement.

They went back to their notes. Carlos changed the station and a Juice Newton song played Hela didn’t see Gerrit watching her as she hummed and swayed as she wrote things down, stopping for random sips of coffee and her soda water. Nor did she see him grin as she sang a few lyrics and swayed her way into the produce walk-in…..

 

I was missing work the other day and I had this thought about how I’d love to have a good moka pot at work. A nice Bialetti, for when the sludge in the pot has been sitting for hours. Normally I use the French press, which is fine, but it’s still not quite like how I like my coffee. I’d love to have a nice Chef at night that I could work over prep, orders, and ideas, and drink a good cup of coffee. But no one I work with appreciates coffee at night quite like I do.  Oh, and part two is in the next post.

Oh, and if anyone notices my conflicting verb usage, would you please point it out. I have issues with passive voice. Bleh, and mixing my verbage.

Move Forward In Grace – Poem

When I write something good, I hate to post it here because I think, Ooh, maybe I can submit it. But I think right now while we are all a little anxious, we could all use a little poetry in our lives. I hope this all means something for each one of you.

Photo by Matthias Müllner on Unsplash

I read an Instagram post about how we all need a little extra grace these days. If that isn’t the truth!  And if you know anything about ravens, they are solitary creatures. I think writers gravitate towards ravens. Poe, well, he was best known for them. But I love them. All of their aspects and they chatter out this wooden marimba sound when they are in trees. It sounds like they are playing instruments. I love hearing it. I channeled a bit of Cinderella, and Lucy from It’s Christmas, Charlie Brown, and all kinds of thoughts. Short, but sweet.

Moving Forward in Grace

Now in the key of raven,
Sing sweet nightingale, sing sweet–
No no! That isn’t it at all.
While spring is in the lawnside violets
Granite snow and ice hunker down up on highest peaks
Topsy-turvy is how we all feel right now.
Let’s all give each other some extra grace
Pulled out of a pocket, see, shiny as a raven’s treasure
All in the key of raven now,
We tinker, we give, we’ve become solitary birds
We fly solo back to our roots
Don’t forget to shed those black feathers when the sun comes out!
And the old pine sits there in a setting sun
Maybe we can all move forward with a bit of grace
Some for you, some for me, go crazy and grab a handful of starbright wishes
You can’t have a monopoly on too much kindness.

Kate

2 AM Is For – Poem

This is something from puttering around with all kinds of thoughts in the last week and a half. From meeting this guy that I just now can’t get to know for a bit…. Thank you Covid-19, I hate you right now.  To big 1980s hair and makeup and smelling my grandparents cabin in an instant déjà vu moment. The lava soap on the counter, Irish Spring soap in a metal shower. And well, wishing for a little more than I have right now. Ah, spring is in the air. Here I go again.

2AM Is For

Smell Lava soap , a linger of a déjà vu of a memory
Stepping into the side door of the cabin’s
washroom
mudroom
bathroom
laundryroom
to the upstairs and all else room
Concrete sinks, and propane and the old wood and canned food pantry
Lingering odors
When 2 AM rolls around and the Irish Spring bubbles spiral
down the metal shower drain
spreadsheets have been left behind, sitting open on a screen
Orderly columns and rows, lists for this, itemized for that—
For standing naked in a mirror, curls bouncing on your shoulders
a nineteen eighties fashion girl, big makeup, big hair
Maybe he’s watching a film
Maybe you’re hoping for more than might be there
But you wear your hair down a little more, a little longer
Maybe he’s drinking that drink you wish you were sharing
And you dress a little more carefully
2 AM isn’t for the mundane, it’s for the magic
Past the witching hour,
When all the poets are awake
When night air slips in through screens
Taste the ice on the tongue, mountain’s metal coldness a cold cloak
To your Gypsy’s hide, it’s been tanned smoothed down soft and skin fresh
Aquamarine earrings swing back and forth
Put on a little Pharrell and dance around naked
Your unbridled you, that part of yourself you hide all day
Moonlight could be your sunlight
You are the alive in these waking hours
a longing for something to happen
when colors and magic spells flow
out of your fingers and the air shakes and shimmers around you
Spin out, spin around, dress in silks and feathers,
2 AM is the time to roost and let the whispers in
let the shimmering bubbles slide down the drain
2 AM is for…

“I Adore Order…” – Poem

‘I adore order,’ she says, but as things start to slide-
‘as you can see, I’m anything but orderly!’
Distracted, absentminded, I may love Mise en Place,
but damn if I can stay en place…

Drawers open, contents spilling outward

socks
handkerchiefs
lacy underthings

counters linger in disarray,

notes
loose cash
rhinestone jewels

flashing amongst miscellany
I tweak her OCD, cluttered and disorganized
the dough is kneading in a mixer as I race
out to stoke a fire leaving a wake of flour
She follows behind organizing, straightening
Opposites attract, north and south magnets

You know, the hardest part of my life is putting myself away.
Close a drawer, put the feather earrings away.
There is a lone bobby pin on a shelf
And a lone coffee cup, mostly empty, lipstick imprint
sitting on a table, or the front desk as I make my way
out the door and breezing off to another place
where my en place is not in place…

Kate

We Are Not Friends, But He Is Home – Prose

Photo by PHUOC LE on Unsplash

We are not friends. We are not lovers. We are something unknown. Standing side by side as confidants, secure in our random trust for each other. He is the strength and knowledge. The quiet before the storm. I am the storm. The whirlwind force. I am the fighting words, he is the calming down. He is the soft and waiting, I am the ready and diving in. Opposites attract, they say. We couldn’t be more different. Or more alike. He’s the future, I’m the past, or the present, or maybe I am the future. He’s tall, I am short. Side by side we stand arms intertwined. He leads, I follow. I direct, he bows down. It’s more than two people. It’s one entity standing against what? Who is to know. We aren’t friends just yet. Barely do I know more than his name, or the way he takes his coffee. But I know he has the world at his fingertips. He’s the answers. I’m the questions. We aren’t lovers. Though we could be. He’s the flowing winds. I’m the earth beneath your feet. Standing on a pedestal, he is king. Seated on a throne, I am a queen. Give and take, push and pull, I’d trust him with my life. We are not friends, but we will be one. We are not the lovers, yet we shall love. He bows to me, and I to him. He is home, and safety and rest. I am sleep, and strength and beginnings. We’ll step forth into the storm, a rock, marble, nothing tumbling us. We are the beginning.

 

I had this super vivid dream yesterday morning that left me kind of reeling. Where I met this man who was like this gentle giant. Tall, like really tall, like my head came only to the middle of his chest. And we barely knew each other, but we were going to work with each other and I was going to help him become this classically handsome guy, classy, and wearing button downs and sweaters and ties and looking all nerdy cute because he wrote for a newspaper. And we just had this connection and it was lovely, and I woke up wishing I could meet him because he was perfect, and it was the two of us against the world. So, I wrote something tonight. Whatever it is. Prose, poetry, fiction. Take it as you will. It was all lovely.

Sigh.

Kate

Don’t Make Me Come Up There – Flash Fiction

Photo by Ryan Hutton on Unsplash

“Don’t make me come up there,” he bellows at the sky. His face is murderous, the scowl etching deep lines into his forehead. The frown isn’t visible on his mouth as his thick beard covers from nose down.

“Darling, who in the world are you yelling at?” comes the soft, and slightly worried question from the woman leaning out of the sliding glass door. The light behind her casts her in an elegant silhouette and the burly man glances back at her, his scowl softening slightly.

“The damn twins are arguing again,” he mutters, jerking a thumb upwards towards the scintillating star-studded black sky framed by tall conifers.

The dainty woman arches a fine brow and glances upward. She doesn’t hear a thing; the forest is so dense and thick she can’t even hear the lake that is just a couple minute’s walk from the glamorous mountain home.

“I don’t hear anything,” she finally says, holding out her palm for him to take. He reaches out and his hand engulfs her, but he allows her to tug him back to the warmly lit interior. He gives one more ferocious glare back at the “silent” sky, then follows her back inside, sliding shut the door and pulling the blinds closed.

“Now where were we before you decided you needed to go out and yell at the sky?” she teases as she hands him back his half-drunk glass of wine and picking hers up as well.  She sinks into the sofa and tugs him towards her.

“When Cass and Pol start arguing, no one can hear a thing,” he mutters, settling down next to her.

She just shakes her head, not having a clue who he is talking about.

But how is she to know she is sitting next to a god?

Sex is Food is Life – Poem

Chefs say food is sexy;
maybe they mean sex on a plate.
Each drizzle of sauce; a finger wipes up a loose drop.
The Mayans
or was it the Aztecs?
believed blood was their life force,
the Romans, water, wine, and God.
I am nothing more than art deco in the wrong time
except for the cigarette in my mouth
the one I don’t smoke but have sampled
from the one you took a drag on, the taste still warm.
I crave oysters, but I can’t eat them.
Filling my body with a poison, I vomit the sea,
the life force, emptied from my body
never more shall I taste it.
Water cures all your ails.
Cry, sweat, or go to the sea.
I say, it’s not just water, but salt water.
I dream of food, never tasting.
I don’t mean I wish to eat,
I dream, fantastical things where food is the bite,
the taste of bon amis.
I sink my teeth into a problem and bite down.
I don’t taste my creations but for the finger
swirled on a plate to catch a last drop.
My sex life is the same.

Writing For Yourself

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I’m actually writing a non cooking thing right now. Sound the horns. No, but seriously, I was thinking about this earlier last week when I found myself writing something I’ll probably never show anyone. When do you write for yourself?

As a writer, everything is for myself, to some degree, however, I do consider who the reader might be. I am a poet, so I think poetically. I’m an essayist, so I consider the form. I write fiction for who might read it within the genre that it fits. At some point, everything is written for the reader. But what about writing just for yourself? Something that will only be for you to look back on. Be it essay, poetry, fiction, flash fiction, even non fiction.

I had a very vivid dream the other night that was one of those ones where you sit going, damn I wish I didn’t wake up. It was that good. So I am turning it into something just for me to enjoy and read again. There is no prerogative other than just writing down an event. But I feel kind of guilty that it’s only for me. I’m sure I could turn it into something for fiction, but I don’t plan to. But can you just write just for yourself?

I’m sure all my writer friends would say yes, but tell me honestly, do you ever just sit down and write for just your eyes only? Or do you have a prerogative of some point?

I kind of wonder if this is why I have that writer’s block problem, which currently I do. I’m worried so much about who the finished product is for, that I’ve stopped writing for myself. The irony on this post comes after picking up Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.  I need to stop coming to the page with this plan to write something specific. I need to just write. I wanted to write a poem about the snow falling today, but I didn’t want to write a poem about snow falling, because it wasn’t working. Then I thought, why not just write down the words that fit what I was thinking

snow     needles     sun globe     marshmallow      shadow      lemon fuzz      reflection       gray     blue     ice      water       glitter      mist     metal    cold      Shakespeare      Dante     Nathan     Chicago      friends      lonely     walking     family     Colorado     western

I am sure I could file all of those words and thoughts crashing through my head as I walked with my mom into a poem. Something that might not mean much, but turns out into something for just me, or maybe eventually someone else. But who cares if it is for someone?  That was why I wrote the character sketch that was the previous post. It was just something that I could get out for fun.

Is anyone else getting stuck writing lately? I spend more time writing in my head. As I sift flour for cakes, toss a round of pizza dough up, stoke a fire, look out a restaurant window, lying in bed at night, listening to a Billie Eilish song…. (Bad Guy is playing right now). My writing is stuck in my head. How do you get it out?  I wish our writing ideas were like the stuff in Harry Potter where the memories are pulled out to view. Only onto the page. Ha! Wouldn’t that be fun?

Kate

Leaning High School Boy – A Character Sketch

Clem Onojeghuo via Unsplash

He stands there, leaning so far to the left, against a post holding up one small section of the covered patio, as all high school boys are apt to do. Nonchalant; arrogant as they are innately bred, but for the few humble ones; cocky and confident. It’s that air about them that makes them so uniquely high school boys. How he leans, left shoulder to the pole, right slung over with a black backpack; his feet, encased in chucks, or some other hip shoe, are crossed and out so far from the post it’s as if he were forming a mathematical triangle. Bright red baseball cap on his head, he’s old enough to sport scruffy facial hair; sideburns and a bit of a three day stubble. His left palm holds a cellphone and his thumb swipe up as he scrolls, the boredom oozing off of his casual posture…that is far from casual. How do they manage to do it?

This was a sketch that came after driving by the High School yesterday, just after school let out. There was this young guy standing against a pole, his feet easily three feet from the post so the lean was acute, and so obvious…and, well, edgy. It piqued my interest.

Kate