Calm Down, Mama – Chef Fiction

This last week led to a new guy in the kitchen learning the ropes. But one little irksome thing kept happening to the point where I let it slide then, but won’t now. I do not need a guy telling me to quit yelling when I am just showing him the basics and my voice is normal level. Trust me, he was not doing it to the guys in back. And it started pissing me off. If it happens again this week, well, I’m going to pull a Hela on him.   Pardon the F-word in here a couple times. It’s the only way to express it. 

“Here, like this,” Hela said, showing the new guy how she wanted the pasta coated in sauce. “Then add a dab of butter, a bit of salt and pepper, and finish with the chili flake.”

“Okay, mama, no need to yell. I got this,” Sean soothed as if trying to calm down a child.

Immediately Hela slammed the saute pan down on the burner. Dima, who was watching Hela teach, glanced down at the smaller man and arched a brow. All around, the other stations got deathly quiet, everyone staring, while Gerrit eyed the situation from the other side of the pass. A ticket printed on a machine, but no one reached to grab it.

Hela pulled herself up to her full five feet three inches and stared coldly at Sean. “I highly suggest you refrain from telling me to not yell when I am talking to you calmly. I let it slide last week cause you were the new guy, but I can bet that you have not said the same thing to any of the guys. Do not do it again.” Her voice had dropped lower with each word till even Dima was backing away, shaking his head sadly at the new guy. Hela loud was one thing, but Hela quiet was a nightmare dressed like a daydream.

Sean put up his hands and backed up on step. “Okay, mama, calm down, I was just kidding.”

Hela’s eyes went wide and Dina flinched behind Sean. Oh, the little man didn’t stand a chance.

“Get off my line,” she growled. He didn’t move. Hela stepped into his face, his height and hers identical. “Get off my fucking line!”

When the man still didn’t move, like a wind up toy, everyone moved into action. Dima stepped around Sean and slid between him and Hela. Dina gave Sean a nudge backwards and there was Marcus, clapping his hand over the man’s shoulder to drag him off the line. Gerrit jerked a finger at Marcus and like a firing squad, the three men marched back to the Chef’s office.

Dina reached down and dinged the bell in Carlos’ code before glancing a Hela. She was practically vibrating, the anger dripping off of her in waves of heat. Her face had gone brick red and he could see her eyes were going glossy with unshed tears.

Carlos banged in through the swinging doors his mouth open to ask what.

“I need a Hela bitters and soda and a separate orange juice now,” he ordered, then seeing as Hela started to crumble, pulled her into his long frame and he felt her sigh. Carlos was out the door in a flash, banging them as he slammed through. “Boys, watch the line, do not fuck it up. I’ll be back in a second.”

Dina turned Hela towards the walk-in and marched her inside. They could hear muffled yelling coming from the office that faded as the door closed behind them. Hela stood there willing the tears to fade.

“Hela, breathe,” Dina ordered softly. She took a shuddering breath in. “And again.” She did as was told and he saw the semi relief hit her, along with the cold air. Her flushed cheeks faded a bit. “Stay here, I have to go finish that ticket.” He looked at her sternly and she nodded.

Dina slipped out the door and glanced back at the office to see Sean slamming out and ripping off his apron. The apron was wadded and tossed into the dirty towels bag before he slammed out of the door into the late afternoon sunlight. Marcus and Gerrit followed at a more sedate pace.

“Another one bites the dust,” Dina noted and hurried toward the line calling over his shoulder, “she’s in the walk-in. Carlos is getting orange juice for her.”

Marcus headed towards the doors and caught the drinks just as Carlos stepped back through with the two glasses. “I got her,” he said calmly. “You get the line,” he said to Gerrit.

“You sure?” Gerrit, while having figured Hela out, was still a little unsure how to handle her like this. This was the first time he’d even seen her yell.

“I am. You can talk to her later.” Marcus opened the walk-in and saw Hela organizing. “Come on babe, outside.” He handed her the orange juice first and let her proceed him out the door into the sun. She downed the juice and he handed her the second glass. She sipped it through the straw.

“Better?”

She nodded. “Thank you, Marcus.”

“Anytime. Are you going to be able to finish the line?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Finish your soda, and head back in. I’ll take over till you come back.”

Hela nodded again.

“Oh and the new guy,” Marcus said poking his head back out the door, “he’s gone.” He made a finished sign with his hand and slipped back inside.

 

One can dream the idiots are swiftly removed from the mix. Miss Holly, do not go repeating this. I’ll deal with said idiot this week. As Toni says(one of our ladies), “girl, you’re evil”….. I’ll deal with the little boys, the idiot men of my life. As Twin Bear used to say, “I am a strong, independent woman, who don’t need no help from any guy.” Damn straight.

Kate

 

Smoke Scent Mornings

It’s the hint of sulfur and magnesium that tickle my nose in the mornings. The sharp pine scent, the waves rippling on the shore of the lake. But it’s the smell of a fire being started in a stove, that ‘sweet’ fire smell I associate with the mountains, that always brings me home. I feel most at home in the mountains. There is something that calls me more than I can explain to anyone. While I love the Bay and living in San Francisco, I crave the mountains more than the ocean. I can’t explain it, especially to anyone I work with, though Phaedra understands it best. Even she doesn’t understand it as well though. She likes the city. I like the quiet. I feel I live in the wrong place. Like people always say they living in the wrong century, or time period? For me it’s mostly the location. Location is everything. If it wasn’t so, why do they always talk about it with businesses?

I have always wanted to own a cabin on Pinecrest. Call it a crazy dream. Call it a fantasy. Call it a thing to add to a dream board. But clearly it can happen. If my sister, my baby sister, can marry a man who owns a cabin on this very specific lake, then why can’t I dream of it as well? I mean, yeah, she’s pretty darn lucky to have met Roger, but it’s not impossible. Roger could have a charming brother. He doesn’t. But he could.

I started this book about Pinecrest Lake a couple years ago, taking a book I love and massively tweaking the storyline to be how I would have rather it had gone. This is just a little blip of thought I started typing the other night when I smelled wood smoke, and the smell of a lit match…

Kate

Midnight Reader – Flash Fiction

The door slowly opened, a crack of light, a two inch strip of yellow, illuminating the carpet up to the bed. Carefully, so as not to wake the lump under the covers on the bed, he snuck in on tip toe. He nearly let out a shriek as his bare foot connected with a small Lego.  The sharp cornered piece of hard plastic biting into the soft flesh of his arch.  He hopped and hobbled, trying not to bang into the desk, then the chair.  He caught the back of the chair as he started to lose his balance and the swiveling piece of furniture nearly upset his balance.  Quick moves on his part had him catching himself and stopping as a soft snore and breath from the body.  He didn’t move a muscle as the lump shifted and sprawled out, an arm sliding out of the covers and dropping the book off the side of the bed with a soft thud.  He waited for a moment, or five as the blanket covered lump shifted and grumbled about homework then went back to sleep.  With a quick dash, he scooped up the book, and circumvented the Legos and bits of erector set metal pieces to make it safely to the door again.  He glanced back once to see if there was movement.  Nothing. he was safe!

He propped himself under the covers, a large maglite flashlight in his palm.  He clicked on the light and flipped the pages.  He was looking for a mark…. There! Just a tiny dot and dash where he’d left off.  Knees hunched, pillow at his back, he shone the light down at the pages, and with a fingernail caught soundly between his teeth, he began to find out if the heroine was going to make it out of the forest on her own.

He nearly let out a shriek as the bed shifted and the covers were jerked back from his buried form.

The woman groaned.

“Jack, why don’t you just ask the kid if you can borrow his book while he’s at school,” the woman asked, shaking her head.

“Because, this is way more fun,” Jack replied. “Now quiet, woman, she just had to make a pact with someone,” he shushed his wife.

She just rolled her eyes and clicked off the light before diving under the covers with a flashlight and a copy of her 8 year old’s slightly sticky copy of a very popular diary of a wimpy sort of kid. She just had to find out what happened after a week wait while the book traveled with her son during summer camp.

I just thought, how fun when a clandestine moment happens when a parent reads a book their kids are reading. My dad would read to us growing up… Robert Peck’s Soup books. And my Mom read us the Happy Hollister books. Oh we had so many books they read us. But what if they read some of ours late at night…….. I just remember how much fun I had reading Laura Ingalls Wilder under the covers with a flashlight. Reading till 9pm.  Scandalous at age 8 or 9.  I still love to read under the covers. I now use a Kindle……

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

Someone New – Fiction

Another foray into my fictional kitchen. I had a break in an idea for my fiction, with ‘Her’ meeting  someone new after Micha’s off on sabbatical. I watched this new Alaska PD show and one of the police officers was like the perfect model. Good name too. So boom! Fiction! I always get excited when something new comes to my head and I can actually write. I have missed fiction. Oh, and I finally settled on a name for said “Her”. I’m going with Hela, like short for Helene, but she goes by ‘H’…. Just like I go by ‘K’ in the kitchen.  Hope you all enjoy. It’s a lot of dialogue, so forgive me.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

“H, there’s someone out at the bar asking for you,” Carlo opened one of the swinging doors to where Hela stood at the pass checking over the day’s menu choice.

“Hmm? Who is it, Carlo?” She asked distracted as she frowned at the mushroom selection. They were decidedly low on matsutakes.

“He didn’t say. You want me to tell him you’re busy?

Hela looked up. “What? Oh, no. Hang on a sec.” She crossed off the mushrooms and added shiitakes. “Bobby, we’re switching to shiitakes tonight. Could you make sure they are prepped? I’ll have Justine change the menu.”

“Sure thing, H,” her lead line chef called.

She was texting Justin about the menu switch as she stepped out the doors towards the bar and it wasn’t till she was near the shadow she’d seen in her peripheral that she looked up as a throat cleared. Blue eyes, filled with an incredible amount of amusement, had her catching her breath. The sharp intake of air and the breathy sigh she barely let out, had the corners of his eyes crinkling just a tad more.

“I’m Hela,” she murmured, extending her hand while she slipped her phone into the front pocket of her jacket.

“Gerrit,” the man replied, his voice tinged with just enough masculine gravel. His warm palm engulfed hers and she felt an electrical tingle all the way to her shoulder.

“How may I help you?” She was tempted to tug her hand from his grasp when he didn’t release her hand, but the electricity was humming across her back and up into her hairline. The feeling was delicious and made her want to stretch and arch like a cat in the sun.

“I was told I needed to meet the famous sous chef from Tableside,” his enigmatic response had her cocking her head to the side. She arched a brow.

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say famous,” she argued and nearly groaned in disappointment when he released her hand.

“I suppose that is opinion based.”

She hummed a non-committal answer. “Are you from the area?” she asked.

“No, just relocated here for a job. A colleague suggested I stop in and see some of the amazing selections on the menu.”

“Oh, well thank you. Most of the menu is from my chef, but I have a few of my own.”

“And is your chef here as well?”

Hela stared at him, Something he’d said tickled the corners of her mind at the question’s strangeness, but she couldn’t form it into anything concrete. 

“No, he isn’t. I’m actually interim chef as he is on sabbatical and I’m waiting to meet my new chef for the next year.”

“Ah. When does that person arrive?”

“Any day now. No specifics have hit my ears yet. Chef, Micha Grant, said he’d let me know when the new chef was set to come in.” Hela said this as if it was just an everyday occurrence, but inwardly she cringed at the thought. Micha had told her she’d like his replacement, yet he’d been so vague about it all, Hela was apt to be rather apprehensive. She remembered too vividly Lucas and all the hell he’d put her through before Micha had fixed everything.

“Well, I’ll have to come in when the change happens,” Gerrit mused. “Though I would love to try one of your dishes if possible.” 

“Quite,” Hela said warmly. She grabbed on of the menus by Carlo’s computer and handed it to Gerrit. “The coconut curry is a specialty of mine,” she said pointing to one of the items, “but then there is breakfast salad with oven roasted tomatoes and mushrooms, or the zucchini involtini,  or a simple pasta aglio e olio.” She rattled off the three other items Micha had let her put on the menu. She was secretly hoping Gerrit would order the pasta aglio as it was her signature dish. Simple in it’s execution, it had been one of the first dishes Micha had taught her to saute properly. It was still her favorite dish to make.

“Oh, you had me at curry,” Gerrit interrupted her thought. 

“Very good. Carlo, send it through. Gerrit, it was a pleasure to meet you. Any special requests on the curry?”

“No. Surprise me.” He held out his hand for her to shak and the grip was just as warm and inviting as before. “And Hela?”

“Hmm?”

“It’s been a pleasure as well. I look forward to bumping into you again.” His eyes twinkled like he knew a secret.

“Mm. Yes.”

Hela couldn’t resist looking back at Gerrit as she headed back to cook the dish. He was watching her, a slight smile on his lips as he rested a palm over his neatly trimmed short box beard. A finger rested on his mouth and her breath hitched again  as he caught her  gaze with his and grinned again. She nearly burst into giggles as she fled to the kitchen flustered all to heck.

 

Hope you all enjoyed.

Kate

A Hallmark Christmas Story Beginning – Part 2

Photo by John Christian Fjellestad on Unsplash

Yes, she had put her heart and soul into this Christmas. The only thing marring the season was that the Carson’s eldest grandson was scheduled to arrive on the 15th. Nicolas McKenzie Carson the third, was a lawyer from the city and ever since she had come to Westbriar, he had been a thorn in her side. Always questioning everything she did for the Carson’s. he was more critical than his parents or any of his aunts and uncles. Every action, how much they paid her, that she had her own room in the mansion, why did she encourage his grandmother to try a new hairstyle, how dare she get the judge to lose some weight, she wasn’t his doctor. Oh and on it went. She’d never met Nicolas in person. Oh no! His highness didn’t deem to come down from the city to find out how things were. No, he called. All the time. He would talk to his grandfather, or grandmother, then after finding out the happenings, he would demand to talk to Miss Oliver. And the Carson’s thought it was so sweet he cared about them so, and oh wasn’t he a nice boy. Noelle would would just nod her head and take the call, all while attempting a smile while she gritted her teeth till she felt like she had a toothache in her entire jaw.
Noelle sighted as she checked the time on her phone for the umpteenth time. He was due in a few hours. Only three more hours of freedom before the executioner arrived. She sighed again and fiddled with her phone setting a new ringtone.
“Dear, if you sigh one more time, I’m going to have Estelle poke you with her scissors,” Phoebe Carson said as her hairdresser fluffed the new bobbed style with the pale pink streak running through it.
“Oh, Estelle, do you think it’s too much?” the eighty year old woman asked, her voice filled with apprehension.
“Mrs. Carson, you look quite hip,” Noelle interjected, finally looking up from her phone.
“Are you sure?” Phoebe reached up and touched her snow white bob, then ran a finger down the pink streak.
Mrs. C, you look stunning and if that grandson gives you any grief, well I’ll just marche myself down and have a talk with that boy,” Estelle patted her hand over Mrs. Carson’s and beamed a glowing bright-white smile at her in the mirror. Not only were Estelles pristine teeth always glowingly bright in general, but her chocolate skin set them off to spotlight proportions.
“Estelle, you’re gonna blind me, “Noelle joked.
“Now you just knock it off, Miss Oliver,” Estelle admonished. “You wanna try something festive this year?
“Oh, Noelle, you should,” Phoebe urged. “This pink is so pretty, but with your eyes, I would think teal or green.
“Wow, Mrs. Carson. Green?” Noelle was current on the new styles, but even green was a bit edgier than she would have gone for.
“How about a nice dark pink along the base?” Estelle suggested.
“Oooh,” both Phoebe and Noelle gushed together.
And hours later, Phoebe and Noelle exited Estelle’s Hair & Nails, their en vogue hair catching the interest of several of the town’s people. Dainty Phoebe in her ivory sweater set and pearls, pink streak swinging, and elegant and svelte Noelle with her 1940’s inspired mid cut, the sleek brown curls bouncing with a cheery magenta red around the entire base.

And so there it ends, for now, until I can come up with something else for Nicolas, Noelle (whose real name is Sarah Noelle Oliver…. SNO….) and the rest of Westbriar’s Christmas Memories, or, Coming Home to Christmas, or, Make Mine Mistletoe…. Oh heck, I’m sure there are a ton of great holiday romance titles for Hallmark. Check out my blog post A Little Christmas Bling where I mock and joke about the perfect Hallmark Plot Generator.

Kate

A Hallmark Christmas Story Beginning – Part 1

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

‘See the sunlight through the pines, taste the warmth of winter wine, dream of softly falling snow, winter’s cold, aspenglow...’ Noelle hummed along to one of her favorite John Denver songs as she wound the garland around the stairwell railing. All around her the staff was filling the house with holiday spirit for the Judge and Mrs. Carson.

She loved her job of personal assistant slash manager of this grand old mansion. Retired Judge Carson doted on his charming wife and she doted on him and Noelle. They had practically given Noelle carte blanche in decorating the house this year with only a few suggestions and she had taken off running with all of it.

Nearly every large room held one Christmas tree, be it big or small, and each room had a theme that flowed right into the next room. The front entry with it’s large grand staircase was classic red and green with poinsettias at the base of the stairs and green garlands wrapping up the railings. Then tiny fairy lights wrapping the greenery for a delicate glow. A tall fir graced the corner, decorated in red bows and ribbons, simple white lights , and a simple gold star.

The front living room was a white and ivory wonderland. The only green was from the blue spruce, but everything else was in shades of white and cream. Ivory beaded garlands were strung on the tree, which was decorated in cream birds and feathers, glittery snowflakes and delicate angels. A white winter village was set on the mantle with a fake snow batting softening the edges.

The dining room, with it’s large french doors overlooking the back gardens and gazing pool, had been trimmed in the simplest of greenery and clove studded oranges. Pomegranates and large bowls of potpourri decorated the table and scented the air in spice and warmth. Large magnolia and orange leaves were tucked into the long needled boughs and it was right out a very Scandinavian or French country.

The Carson’s entire family was coming home for the holidays, so each bedroom had to be perfect. Advent calendars and stockings decorated the great-grand kids and cousins rooms, while more simple and elegant things decorated the adult’s. Noelle had been planning the rooms since August. It was exciting to see all of it come into focus and reality. Mrs. Carson was delighted with every detail and even she had to concur with the judge, that his wife was as giddy as a schoolgirl with all the festivities in the house.

Noelle had even gone so far as to plan holiday meals each day and every evening since the first of December, light a candle each night for advent. She had found an elegant advent calendar  full of pretty sayings about the season. She had spruced it up with Mrs. Carson’s favorite chocolates, and now every evening after dinner, with their coffees, they would sit in her favorite decorated room. The grand, two story library, with a roaring fire. Mrs. Carson would open the numbered box. Noelle would light a green candle, and the judge would read part of the Christmas story. She had started the tradition the year before, when she had first started working for the Carsons, and now it was a cozy family thing they did. For the judge and his wife

viewed her as family since all of their sons, daughters, and grandchildren lived far away. Her family wasn’t nearby either, her parents still lived in her hometown three states away and 18 hours  of driving away. Her sister was friends with the Carson’s daughter and had recommended her for the job, but her sister also lived several hours away and hardly ever had the time to visit, what with being a housewife and mother of three very active little boys.

Various aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents were dispersed throughout the west, and on it went, so for her it had been absolutely lovely that the Carsons viewed her like and added granddaughter.

So with Mrs. Carson’s ever delightful support, she transformed the magnificent mansion to a Christmas wonderland. She also instrucked the gardeners on how to decorate dhte exterior. lights around the eaves and spiraled around the tall conical cypress that lined the driveway. They looked like glittering pillars every night when the first star would come out and the timers would click on . Flick! and there was a stellar driveway. The shrubs were covered with lighted nets that draped over, and various trees were decorated in the dripping icicle lights so they look drenched. If there was one thing she loved, it was lights.

She and the girls from the kitchen and maids had made snowmen families tucked into pockets of conifers throughout the gardens one afternoon when the snow had fallen thickly the night before. The judge had even found an old horse-drawn sleigh that was in need of massive repairs, but with some greenery and red bows and even more lights, it became the welcoming piece de resistance welcoming those at the front gate.

 

Part Two is in the next post. I just didn’t want to bog you all down with this little Hallmark-y story I started writing two years ago.  I only have parts one and two so far, but well I’m dabbling since I’m in the Christmas Season.

Kate

What Shall We Downsize – Kitchen Fiction

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

It was the middle of the morning and the prep chefs  were  all chopping, mixing and making the general things ready for the night. She had her clipboard in hand as she went over her order for the day. The produce was due in and she needed to get her fish order settled. Sue and Riley were working on short crust dough. She shook her head as  she watched the young man go too heavy on mixing things with his hands causing a cascade of flour to poof out over the counter. She nearly laughed when Sue sighed loudly.

“Breathe, Sue,” she interjected as she walked by coffee cup in hand.  She heard Sue make a rude remark at her back and Riley apologizing profusely as he was prone to do.

“You’re doing fine, Riley,” she called behind her as she headed to the other side of the prep area to hunt down someone to enlist to help her. The order could wait an hour. She needed to do something that felt like she was accomplishing something.

She spied someone who was wiping down his station. Perfect. She nearly purred in satisfaction.

“Carlos!” she barked. The man looked up with a jerk. “What are you doing?”

He looked like a deer in the headlights. Even better.

“Uh, I was gonna start —”

“Nope. You’re gonna help me. You’ve just been promoted to help me organize the walk in!” she singsonged as she caught the sleeve of his chef’s jacket as he tried to slip past her.

Around her the snickers were audible enough for her to arch a brow at the various owners of the sounds. “Be careful, boys. One of you will end up next in line to help me.”

The complete silence was deafening. She turned back towards the first walkin pulling Carlos behind her. “Come along. It won’t take too long.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he sighed and followed her.

She pulled out her phone and tuned to her current favorite Pandora station. Dolly Parton singing about someone walking back into her life. It was her new anthem to listen to when she felt lost in the shuffle. Into a 9-pan went the phone to echo out in tinny fashion, the upbeat 70s tune.

She started pulling Cambros off the shelf, things half empty or out dated, handing them to Carlos to put on the prep table outside the refridgerated box. She made faces at things that went bad, gingerly handed off non labeled deli quarts and pints, sloshing containers.

“Out out out!” she was rolling her eyes at a 15 qt. Cambro that had about two quarts in the bottom of it. “Who keeps leaving Cambros mostly empty in here?” she yelled out the door knowing full well none of the people out there would answer. She was guilty of it a few times when in a hurry, but this was getting out of hand.

By the time she had just the containers out, half the walk-in was already done. She shook her head as she grabbed a painters tape roll and started rewriting labels to the newly downsized smaller cambros that Carlos was putting things into. Army, their new dishwasher was busy spraying down the empties and stacking them to go into the industrial dishwasher that was humming away.

New tape went onto the smaller containers with the updated date, she had Carlos load them back in the walk-in while she figured out what prep needed to be done now that amounts were diminished.

“Now what?” Carlos questioned as the door closed with a sucking airtight sound. 

“You. Bucket. Sani water. Scrub.” She grinned as he made a face. “Hey, I’m now on to downsizing the produce. You’ll live.”

She began by grabbing her clipboard, then began a systematic approach to the disorder of the fruits and vegetables. Sue and her were belting out a Crystal Gayle song as the guys in the kitchen rolled their eyes at the two women.  Root vegetables into like bins, she trimmed up carrots that were getting mouldy, apples with spots were put into a bin to be made into sauce.  The herbs were tidied, the citrus sorted and downsized. By the time she was done with the produce, she knew what she needed to order and Carlos had the walk-in walls and floor sparkling bright and smelling clean. 

“Much better. Now, onward to the meats and dairy,” she directed to the next walk-in. Carlos’s shoulders had a slightly defeated look, but she just ignored him. “Give me a quick count on the fish and what seafood we have while I make the produce order. Then we’ll tackle the rest of it together.”

She walked off, pulling out her phone  as Carlos headed towards meats. She grinned at the text from Micha asking how the day was going. She shot back a thumbs up and a couple pictures of the organized walk-in. She was dialing the produce number when she overheard one of the line cooks mocking Carlos being girl whipped. 

She paused and looked up to see George leaning in to another line cook, Kyle. “You two have just volunteered yourselves to go organize and clean all the dry storage. I want it all labeled and the shelves clean within the next hour.”

When they didn’t move she arched a brow. “Did I stutter?”

“No,” came the group answer.  

“Good, then hustle.”

Her quick text with a thumbs down and a frowny face went off to Micha. So close. She was so close to not getting so much pushback from the boys. Well, there would be other days. At least she could delight in a cleaner kitchen. Good days, take the good days.

She pushed the dial button and got ready to send off her order. Hopefully Carlos would count the fish right…..

 

Another scene into fictional kitchen. I’ve been the one cleaning the walkin lately. Downsizing and organizing on Sundays. The other day Jersey Boy told everyone to keep busy. Suddenly all the guys but Golden Oldie (dishwasher… name could change) were nowhere to be found. Shock. I can’t remember the last time I saw Will Turner clean something other than the line at the end of closing. Scrub the walkin? Right….

So anyways, the walk-in was organized on Sunday. Downsized. Emptied. Gads, it was empty. There will need to be a fair amount of prep done this week. I actually like it, and my proverbial ‘She/Her’ in this story likes it too. Still working on a name for her. I have a couple options but I haven’t decided yet. Oh and for those wondering, the Juice Newton Radio on Pandora is the bomb. So classic 70s and 80s country and light rock. So Dolly Parton and more. Try it out.

Kate

Went And Got Lost in a Tall Hedge Maze – Fiction

Photo by keith thomas on Unsplash

It wouldn’t have been so bad, being lost in a corn maze, not exactly his idea of fun, but no big deal. But then his cell phone died. No GPS to get out of this mess. And he remembered that he hadn’t applied the SPF 110 to his body before leaving the house, and at midday, he felt fried to a crisp at the center of the maze. He knew he was at the center; the sign saying “You have reached the center of the maze,” made it pretty obvious.

He hadn’t seen anyone for hours. His friends has gone off ahead of him when he’d had a moment of panic and pulled out his inhaler and waved them on with his starched handkerchief as he’d wheezed. They’d rolled their eyes at him, Sadie muttering “drama queen” under her breath as they’d pass by him and heading down a tunnel.  At least he was at the center. But his water bottle was empty, and he was going to have to conserve his backup, and his backup a backup water bottle as well, if he wanted to make it out alive.

The sun shifted a degree while he fashioned a spear from a corn stalk, several strips of leaves, and a pointed cob he’d sharpened with his swiss army knife. It took a while, but he was certain he could make it out if he had to fight his way after it got dark and the vampires came out. Too bad he’d left his rosary at home. Would have come in handy. Being that it was sterling silver and all. He could have used some holy water, just in case.

Sweat was fogging up his glasses as he tied his shirt around his head in an attempt to block the sun that beat down on this scorching September day. Nearly October and it was 87 degrees. Or at least that was what it felt like. The pale skin on his back would be blistered by nightfall, he was sure of it. 

Several wrong turns and a couple dead ends left him crying out for God to rescue him from this madness. He was slumped down against his spear, sucking down the last of his backup water bottle, knees in the dusty dirt, when he felt a tap on his shoulder.  He nearly jumped out of his skin and turned, startling the young girl standing behind him. She was about 8 and had a lollipop in her mouth. 

“You okay, Mister?” she asked with a slight lisp from the sucker in her mouth.

His mouth was too dry to answer. The girl frowned up a him and in an all girl fashion, flipped her braided blond pigtail over her shoulder.

“Did you get lost?” she asked.

He nodded.

“Well, I got lost too, the first time. But it’s easy. To more turns and we’re at the end. Want some help?”

He nodded again.  Before he could take a step, she had looped her sticky fingers through his and started tugging him along.

“I’m Janie. What’s your name?”

“George,” he rasped.

“Oh, hi, George. My mom and daddy are just behind, we’ll be out in no time. I love the maze. It’s different every year. Last year it was a giant witch, this year it’s Frankenstein!”  She tugged him along and in just a flash they were exiting out into the even brighter sunshine. Out into the waiting laughter of his friends who stood around at the end of the maze drinking beers and and giving him a round of insecure applause and mocking bows. “There are your friends, Mister,” the girl said, releasing his hands. 

He nodded his thanks then watched in shock as she ran over to Molly who handed her a ten dollar bill.

“What was that?” he croaked.

“Eh, we paid the girl to hunt you down. She said she knew this maze inside and out,” Brian said, handing him a beer.

“So, vampires are gonna get you, huh?” Colton teased, jabbing him in his bare shoulder. He quickly yanked the shirt off his head and pulled it back on.

“You heard me?” 

“Day one, I’m nearly out of water,” Molly impersonated. “It’s the fifth day and I’ve taken to fashioning a spear from cornstalks.”

“If only I had my silver rosary when the vampires come out,” Brian mocked.

“I wasn’t that bad,” he muttered into his beer.

“George, you are the biggest drama king ever. This wasn’t Castaway. You were forty minutes behind. And your cellphone you forgot to charge, you idiot,” Molly lightly punched him in the arm. “Come on, let’s go get some lunch.”

They pulled him along in the direction of the sandwich stand on the edge of the property where the maze was. George knew it was going to be a long time before they ever let this one down.

I was having a conversation with a friend about being in a corn maze and cell service dying. Then add in our very pale white skin that burns at mild 100 watt bulbs and being vampires…. bada boom bada bing, this hit my head. An overly dramatic guy pulling a Tom Hanks  ‘Castaway’ vibe. Yes, it’s meant to be completely silly.

I’ve also been waiting to use the lyrics from the Paper Kites song Featherstone
“She went out to the hay in the morning grace
She went out and got lost in a tall hedge maze”

Hope you all enjoy.

Kate

If It Was Only A Sabbatical – Flash Fiction Snippet

Photo by Alyson McPhee on Unsplash

Over the last year I have written down snippets and little plotlines, even dialogue of a cooking story that has no real basis other than just inserting some of it into my writing life. Since cooking and the restaurant world is so much a part o f my life these days, I can’t help but write about it. I have ideas of some sort of novel, maybe a bit biographical, but I’m not sure. Mostly it’s just playing around with scenes. So after Coffeeman left, I found myself channeling the situation in a different way. What if Coffeeman was leaving only for a sabbatical or something. It would be hard, but doable. Right now, doable is just survival. Surviving till the next change. Nothing so wonderful as sabbatical. (you would not believe how many times I’ve spelled that word wrong.)

So here is something I wrote in my journal on September 5th. With a few edits. Of course.

She let her knife sink into the freshest tomato, still nearly warm from the sun. Slice, slice, slice. Perfect rounds of flesh. It was all she could focus on right now. The prep list was too long, Micha was leaving in a few days, the boys in the kitchen, from line cook to dishwasher, were all acting up, and she was about ready to fall apart. Tired, apprehensive. Could she do what Micha had faith in her for? Did she know enough?

She was ready to swear at anyone who stepped out of line. A recent run in with a shelf, which had left a nasty bruise on her underarm, had left her swearing a blue streak that left all in earshot giving her a wide berth and wary look. She was nearly in tears when she bent back a fingernail after prying at a cambro.

“You know you’re going to be fine,” came Micha’s voice from her left, scaring her out of mind and musings. She let her knife hit the board with a whack and glared at him.

“Don’t do that!” she growled. He just chuckled at her and slid a coup of coffee over too her.She accepted it with a nod and leaned her hip against the counter with a sigh. He was sipping at one of his many cups that she found floating around the kitchen throughout the day.

“Have you taken a break and gotten something to eat?”

She shook her head the tiredness hitting her. The sadness. She was already missing him and the little things she knew were going to be gone. Things like him asking if she ate before her sugar dove and she started threatening everyone with bodily harm and a knife.

“Go eat something. Take ten and come back when you’ve done that. This will wait.

“Bu—”

“No buts, just go.” He shooed her with a direct look.

She made a face at him, but didn’t argue, setting her knife on a towel and heading off to the line to see if there was still some soup from an earlier family meal.

The French Laundry

Nothing much. A touch off of the characters from Just A Day, Just An Ordinary Day… Not – Flash Fiction because I like them and well, yeah. So enjoy. I’m picturing a very different kitchen than what I work in. Something along the kitchen from The French Laundry. It’s so open and pretty. I want a kitchen like that. When I first started working at my place, I was bummed by no windows and no clocks. We never knew what time it was. It was my own insane asylum. Now, I’ve gotten used to it, and I am out in front where the windows are a lot of the time so I can see out and it helps. But I still dream of open kitchens. Lots of windows and natural light. I think all our moods would be better.

Kate