“If you don’t pay the bill, I’ll call the police,” said the waitress, closing the door and turning the open sign to closed. She turned the key and put it in her apron pocket. “Either you pay the bill or you wash the dishes.”
Vince was just about the stamp his foot again and a look of anguish came over his face. Finton, the waitress, looked quizzically at him and reached out to touch his arm. “Are you alright?”
Then the floodgates opened and Vince collapsed in a chair, tears rolling down his face. Finton sat down next to him and put her arm across his shoulders, patting him gently until the sobbing had subsided.
“Now then, sir, why don’t you tell me all about it while you’re doing the dishes,” she said kindly, “I’d be happy to listen, and I can interrogate you too, if that’s what you’d like.”
Vince wiped his eyes and blew his nose with a crumpled napkin, smearing strawberry jam across his cheeks. Finton didn’t have the heart to tell him, and tried hard not to snigger.
“Call me Vince,” he smiled weakly, and followed Finton into the kitchen.
“You really know your trade, Fuyi,” said Rukshan. “You’ve built the most exquisite and comfortable place. And I think the empty dishes speak aplenty about the quality of the food and the pleasure we took in this shared meal. Now, let us help you with the dishes,” said Rukshan.
“Ach! Don’t be so polite,” said Fuyi. “I’ll have plenty of time after yar departure tomorrow. It’s not like the inn is full. Just enjoy an evening together, discuss yar plans, and have some rest. I know that life. Take the chance when it presents itself!”
The Sinese food made by the innkeeper had been delicious and quite a first for most of them. Tak had particularly enjoyed the crunchy texture of the stir fried vegetables flavoured with the famous five spices sauce. Nesy had preferred the algae and chili dishes while Fox, who ate a red hot pepper thinking it was bell pepper, had stuffed himself with juicy pork buns to put out the fire in his mouth.
Gorrash, befuddled by the novelty, had been at a loss of labels, good or bad. He simply chose to welcome the new experiences and body reactions to flavours and textures. As for Olliver, he gave up the chopsticks when he saw how fast Fox made the food disappear from the dishes.
Now that the dishes were empty, the children and Gorrash had left the table and were playing near the fireplace. Olliver was looking at the trio with envy, split between the desire to play and enjoy the simplicity of the moment, and the desire to be taken more seriously which meant participate in the conversation with the adults.
“We have plenty to discuss, Fae,” said Kumihimo.
Fuyi looked at Olliver, recognising the conundrum. “That’s settled, then,” he said to the group. Then turning toward Olliver: “Boy! I’m sure the start of the conversation will be boring for a young mind. Let’s join the others for a story of my own. You can still come back later and they’ll fill you in on the details.”
Fuyi and Olliver moved to the fireplace. The innkeeper threw cushions on the floor and sat on a wooden rocking chair. At the mention of a story, Tak, Nesy and Gorrash couldn’t contain their exuberant joy and gathered all ears around Admirable Fuyi. As he rocked, the chair creaked. He waited until they all calmed down. And when he was satisfied he started.
“I was young and still a fresh recruit in the Sinese army,” started Fuyi. “We were stationed at the western frontier just below the high plateaus and I hadn’t participated in any battle yet. With the folly of youth I thought that our weapons and the bond we shared with my fellow soldiers were enough to defeat anything.”
“Adaptability and improvisation are the names of the game now,” said Liz, beaming with satisfaction. Her impulse had been a success. A quick call to the local dog shelter and the delivery of two dogs within the hour had solved the problem nicely. As anyone who’d ever had dogs knew, cleaning up spilled food was simply never a problem. “You won’t have to wash the dishes anymore now!”
“What do you mean?” Finnley asked suspiciously. “Surely you can’t mean…”
“Why, yes! Just put them all on the kitchen floor and the dogs will do it for you. They’re ever so good, they won’t miss a single morsel. Which is more than can be said for your washing up. Now don’t pout! Be glad you have one less job to do.”
Godfrey patted the black poodle’s head, which had a funny sort of spring loaded feel. “We’re keeping the dogs, then?” he asked, failing to keep the hopeful note out of his voice. He was rather taken with the funny little dog. Without waiting for an answer from Liz he said to the expectant little face peering up at him, “What shall we call you, then?”
The shadow of a frown creased Liz’s brow momentarily as she wondered if she’d done the right thing. Would she be able to stomach seeing Godfrey fawning over a poodle? Why on earth had the dogs home sent her a poodle? Did she sound like a poodle person? But then, they’d sent her a lurcher as well. Liz contemplated taking umbrage at that, did she honestly sound like a lurcher person? A lurcher poodle person? Or a poodle lurcher person?
“Are we keeping both of them, then?” asked Roberto. “What shall we call you, big boy?” he asked, addressing the dog.
“On the way back call in at the dogs home and pick two more dogs up, Finnley. We may as well have one each. I’ll ring them now.”
“You know, I wasn’t initially fond of this idea, Godfrey” Elizabeth said, while looking at Roberto doing the dishes. A bit unusual of her to spend time in the kitchen, probably her least favourite room in the house, but she was keen to revise her judgment as the view was never as entertaining.
Godfrey was finishing a goblet full of cashews while leafing through the “Plot like it’s hot” new book from the publishing house that Bronkel had sent autographed and dedicated to Liz “without whom this book may have never seen the light of day”.
“Godfrey, are you listening to me? You can’t be distracted when I talk to you, I may say something important, and don’t count on me to remember it afterwards. Besides, what’s with the cashews anyway?”
“Oh, I read they’re good natural anti-depressant… Anyway, you were saying?”
“You see, like I just said, you made me lose my stream of thought! And no… the view is for nothing in that.” She winked at Roberto who was blissfully unaware of the attention. “Yes! I was saying. About that idea to write Finnley in the new novel. Completely rash, if you’ve had asked before. But now I see the benefit. At least some of it.”
“Why are you never paying attention?”
“No, no, I heard you. But I never… wait a minute.” The pushy ghostwriting ghostediting, and most probably ghostcleaning maid (though never actually seen a proof of that last one) had surely taken some new brazen initiative. Well, at least Liz wasn’t taking it too badly. There maybe even was a good possibility she was trying hard to stay on continuity track about it. Godfrey continued “Benefit, you said?”
“Yes, don’t make me repeat myself, I’ll sound like a daft old person if ever a biopic is made of me, which by the way according to Bronkel is quite a probability. He’s heard it from a screenwriter friend of his, although his speciality is on more racy things, but don’t get me carried away. The benefit you see, and I’ve been reading Bronkel’s stupid book, yes. The benefit is… it moves the plot forward, with ‘but therefore’ instead of ‘and then’. It adds a bit of spice, if you get what I mean. Adds beats into the story. Might be useful for my next whydunit.”
Godfrey was finding her indeed lingering a tad too obviously on the ‘but‘ and their beats, but abstained from saying anything, and nodded silently, his mouth full of the last of the cashews.
Liz pursed her lips “Well, all this literature theory is a great deal of nonsense, you know my stance on it; I made my success without a shred of it…”
“Maybe you’re a natural” Godfrey ventured.
“Maybe… but then, they’ve got some points, although none as profound as Lemone’s. His last one got me pondering: finckleways is not a way in, delete it or it’ll get you locked out; only flove exists now. “
“So, what do we do now?” asked Fox. Call it a sixth sense or a seventh sense, but he knew before he got the answer that he was going to regret it somehow. He had always been too quick to ask questions, and his years at the service of Master Gibbon apparently hadn’t made this habit go away.
“Well dear assistant. You can start with the dishes,” said Kumihimo with a broad smile, “and then clean the rest of the hut.”
Fox swallowed. He looked at the piles of stuff everywhere. What had seemed fun a moment before, playing with Kumihimo’s recipes and what he still thought of as her power toys, had turned into a chore. Though, his eyes stopped on a paquet he hadn’t notice before. It looked heavy and wet. The wrapping was not completely closed on the top and he thought he could see pink. That renewed his energy and motivation. Thinking that afterwards they would revive Gorrash suddenly made him feel the cleaning would be done in no time. He simply needed to be methodical and tackle each task one by one.
First the glassware, it was the most fragile and took most of the space outside.
Fox didn’t know how long he had been at it. He had been so engrossed in the cleaning, that he hadn’t paid attention to the others who had been talking all along. He felt a little exhausted and his stomach growled. How since he last ate. His body was stiff with all the movements and carrying stuff around. He was about to ask for some food when he noticed Kumihimo and Rukshan were still talking. The Fae looked exhausted too, he had his panda eyes, but he seemed captivated by their discussion.
“Things are going to get worse,” was saying Kumihimo, “We need everybody ready for what’s coming next. The fires were just the beginning.”
“Do you have anything to eat?” asked Fox not knowing what else to contribute to the conversation. But he knew he wouldn’t be of any help if he didn’t eat something first.
“Take a look at the nude old fart? Godfrey’s not cavorting about naked again, is he? Go and cover him up quickly, before anyone sees him. That kitchen towel won’t be big enough, you better get a sheet.”
“He’s not going to let me cover him up though is he, Liz?” Finnley replied. “You know what he’s like when he gets these urges!” Finnley was about to clarify that she hadn’t said Godfrey was prancing about the place naked anyway, but was rendered speechless when Liz replied.
“You’re right,” admitted Liz, reluctantly. Then she had an idea. “Tell him it’s a toga for the Romans party.”
“What Romans party?” asked Roberto, popping his head in the French windows. “I’ve always wanted to dress up as a Roman slave.”
“You mean mostly naked? Give him that kitchen towel Finnley to use as a loin cloth.” Turning back to the strapping gardener, she said, “Show me your costume, young man!”
“But Liz” Finnley started to say that there was no Romans party really, that it was just a ruse to cover up Godfrey, (who the reader if not the writer will remember wasn’t naked in the first place) and what was she doing getting the gardener to strip… and then she decided to just say “Oh never mind” and make a hasty retreat, mumbling something about dishes to wash.FloveParticipant
“Finnley, how on earth did you manage to insert yourself in the kitchen and do the dishes while I was standing here twittering about doctors and whatnot. And here you are and the dishes are done but when I started my comment, I swear they were still on the bench.”
Liz peered at Finnley suspiciously.
“Do you have magical properties you aren’t sharing with us?” she asked.
“Delusions, Liz? Are you sure?”
“Well look at her, slumped over there on the floor twittering about long sentences! She won’t get the dishes washed if she carries on like this!”
Shawn-Paul lived in a studio apartment, crammed with bookshelves full of books and trinkets that he gathered during his many walks around the city while looking for inspiration. He hadn’t read all of the books, but he always had the intention to do it one day. One day easily became two and three, and so many.
Someone with OCD could dust date the different purchases by measuring the thickness of the layer of dust on the books.
That day, Shawn-Paul was drinking a hot chocolate at his computer on the small desk where some books lied open or closed on top of each others. The top one’s cover claimed in bold red letters “NARRATIVE COACHING, The Definitive Guide to Bring New Stories to Life”. Shawn-Paul had bought it thinking it was a coaching book for writers but it apparently aimed at teaching coaches to tell good stories. The book had proved interesting and especially another occasion to enrich his knowledge about the world or in one word procrastinate.
Shawn-Paul took a sip of the hot chocolate, which was now more lukewarm than hot and felt the impulsion to open his browser and watch a video about narrative coaching on U-stub. That’s when it all went wrong and myriads of ads popped up and covered the screen and his newly bought writer software were the first word of his novel still waited to appear.
At first, he panicked and his sudden movements back and fro almost broke the fragile equilibrium of the desk clutter. But then he shrugged, took his phone to call his friend Jeremiad for help and remembered how that went last time when he had to listen to his friend’s imaginary problems, just like imaginary friends but worse. He put the phone back in the clutter and looked at the last ad. A girl with sensuous cherry red lips winking at him with a packet of granola cookies spinning around her head.
Unaware of what was happening, Shawn-Paul felt hungry and considered his lukewarm chocolate. He smiled as he thought he could make another one and enjoy dipping some cookies in it.
He went to the kitchen and foraged through the clutter of dirty dishes and empty cookie packets. There were none left. The effect of hunger on Shawn-Paul was square grumpiness. Not round, not rectangular. Square. And it didn’t fit the curves of his stomach.
Shawn-Paul put his writer’s jacket and cap on, added a wool scarf because he had a sensitive throat, and it looked cool on him and he winked at his reflection on the mirror hanging on the main door.
He left, unaware of the smile of the granola girl.
Liz left her bed at 8:30am, wearing only her pink and blue doubled cotton night gown, a perfect hair and her fluffy pink blue mules. She had been thinking about her characters while the sun was trying to rise with great difficulty. Liz couldn’t blame the Sun as temperatures had dropped dramatically since the beginning of winter and the air outside was really cold.
When Liz was thinking about her writings and her characters, she usually felt hungry. Someone had told her once that the brain was a hungry organ and that you needed fuel to make it work properly. She didn’t have a sweet tooth, but she wouldn’t say no to some cheesy toast, any time of the day.
She had heard some noise coming from the kitchen, certainly Finnley doing who knows what, although certainly not cleaning. It might be the association between thinking about her characters and the noise in the kitchen that triggered her sudden craving for a melted slice of cheese on top of a perfectly burnished toast. The idea sufficed to make her stomach growl.
She chuckled as she thought of inventing a new genre, the toast opera. Or was it a cackle?
As she was lost in her morning musings, her mules gave that muffled slippery sound on the floor that Finnley found so unladylike. Liz didn’t care, she even deliberately slowed her pace. The slippery sound took on another dimension, extended and stretched to the limit of what was bearable even for herself. Liz grinned, thinking about Finnley’s slight twitching right eye as she certainly was trying to keep her composure in the kitchen.
Liz, all cheerful, was testing the differences between a chuckle and a cackle when she entered the kitchen. She was about to ask Finnley what she thought about it when she saw a small person in a yellow tunic and green pants, washing the dishes.
Liz stopped right there, forgetting all about chuckles and cackles and even toasts.
“Where is Finnley?” she asked, not wanting to appear the least surprised. The small person turned her head toward Liz, still managing to keep on washing the dishes. It was a girl, obviously from India.
“Good morning, Ma’am. I’m Anna, the new maid only.”
“The new… maid?”
Liz suddenly felt panic crawling behind her perfectly still face. She didn’t want to think about the implications.
“Why don’t you use the dishwasher?” she asked, proud that she could keep the control of her voice despite her hunger, her questions about chuckles and cackles, and…
“The dirty dishes are very less, there is no need to use the dishwasher only.”
Liz looked at her bobbing her head sideways as if the spring had been mounted the wrong way.
“Are you alright?” asked Anna with a worried look.
“Of course, dear. Make me a toast with a slice of cheese will you?”
“How do I do that?”
“Well you take the toaster and you put the slice of bread inside and pushed the lever down… Have you never prepared toasts before?”
“No, but yes, but I need to know how you like it only. I want to make it perfect for your liking, otherwise you won’t be satisfied.” The maid suddenly looked lost and anxious.
“Just do as you usually do,” said Liz. “Goddfrey?” she called, leaving the kitchen before the maid could ask anymore questions.
Where was Goddfrey when she needed him to explain everything?
“You need me?” asked a voice behind her. He had appeared from nowhere, as if he could walk through the walls or teleport. Anyway, she never thought she would be so relieved to see him.
“What’s that in the kitchen?”
“What’s what? Oh! You mean her. The new maid.”
He knew! Liz felt a strange blend of frustration, despair and anger. She took mental note to remember it for her next chapter, and came back to her emotional turmoil. Was she the only one unaware of such a bit change in her home?
“Well, she followed us when we were in India. We don’t know how, but she managed to find a place in one of your trunks. Finnley found her as she had the porter unpacked the load. It seems she wants to help.”
The blast ricocheted throughout the town. It set the dogs barking, chickens squalking and babies crying. Folks dropped what they were doing, in many cases literally: dishes and beer bottles crashed to the floor, as the towns people ran outside to find out what was going on, or ran for cover.
Bert, sitting on top of Plater’s Rock watching it all, slapped his thigh, whooped and then laughed until the tears ran like rain season creeks through the desert dry creases of his face. The unaccustomed unbridled mirth provoked a coughing fit: Bert balled up the phlegm that rose in his throat and catapulted gobs of it towards the creek below.
Well, that’s finally got that off my chest, he said to himself with another choking cackle.
The creek itself after the explosion was obscured from his sight by a thick pall of smoke, but the sputum projectiles were aimed with deadly accuracy at the bridge ~ or where the bridge had been.
There was no bridge there now though, not that anyone would have noticed its disappearance if he hadn’t made sure they did. Years he’d spent making that bridge, a bit at a time, with what he could find or chance upon, working on it as often as he had time for. He’d found what he could only describe as a “special place” over on the other side of the creek, it spoke to him and seemed to call on him to bring others. The only way to it from the town was to swim the creek, or drive almost 200 miles by road, via the closest bridge at Ninetown. So Bert decided to build a bridge across, so people could go back and forth with ease and enjoy the place on the other side.
Bert had finished the bridge three years ago during the dry season, and invited everyone over upon it’s completion. Four people turned up, even though he’d set up a picnic and brought coolboxes of champagne and beer, and a big bag of weed. Less than a dozen people used Bert’s bridge in the first two years, and he was the only one to cross over since the last dry season.
Finding the dynamite in the old mine shaft a few months back had given him the idea. An impulse had seized him after the unexpected encounter with Elizabeth. He blew the bridge up. It was over. He could breathe again.
“Oh, that’s just because I was making you side-dishes for your breakfast, sweetie”, a Vincentius arms full with fresh fruits of improbable sizes and colours said as he came out of the nearby grove. “Though, I beg to differ with Mandrake, a bottle of Nhum would go great with those, especially the grogonuts.”
“Then, we can go find Yicks’.”
Despite all his best efforts, Yickesy had not yet managed to escape the crutches of chatty Minky who was herding the disparaged group of tourists to weirder and weirder spots.
While Malvina had been enjoying the fishy delicacies of Olliburthon, she had gathered again a sense of purpose.
“Not quite yet, but working on it…” she snapped at Leörmn, who was always quick to point out what wasn’t quite actualized. “You see, it is merely a matter of concentrating and soon it’ll be. Anyway, the fish is good here; look at those divinely prepared dishes! Leo would have loved them.”
Leörmn wasn’t very concerned by the seeming (he almost thought “seaming” in another probability) lack of direction of late errands, as he was well aware they all served a purpose. Oh, he knew that very well indeed, so very well… — but bugger if he could explain what said purpose was. Of course he, like any dragon of his age, could have easily said, if the proper motivation, question or else had prompted him to investigate further. But in its own nature, a dragon wasn’t inquisitive. He was accepting, for all that is before him, is all that is.
So when the idea germinated inside Malvina’s head, he already knew it would lead to a manifestation of some form, sooner or later.
So how could he have been surprised when she told him.
“You could at least play a little surprised!” she said “Doesn’t it sound fun and exciting to have our own Temple of Flove?”
“I hope it won’t smell too much of fish, or you may repel your patients…”
“Don’t be silly, we can’t be doing that here, you know that much better than I do!”
Leörmn cracked a smile, knowing indeed very well where this would all lead.
“And I will have a lovely white embroidered gown to officiate” Malvina was unstoppable “with pearls and shiny moonstones…”
“Oh, of course, and rubies for the boobies” Leörmn couldn’t really remain serious.
“That’s an idea!” Malvina was so enthralled she wasn’t really paying attention. Tomorrow she would bid farewell to Kalliona’s lovely company and Olliburthon charming gastronomy, and set her new journey’s destination to the Land of her ancestors, near the Great Lake of Umphillax, where her journey started, long before she even met her sisters.
“Tally-oh!” Leörmn cheered, loving the way magic could make packing and unpacking so easy.
Yann was feeling a bit uncertain of what to do next. These past few days had been evolving in an unfamiliar direction and doing familiar things like going to work, eating at more or less fix hours (the same kind of food), and even checking the mail sitting on their sofa was feeling uncomfortable.
Most of the time, if he continued focusing on what was happening in the outside world, he was feeling overwhelmed really quickly and things he was doing at that moment would kind of escape his control… the plates would fly over if he was washing the dishes, the tooth brush would hit his gums savagely if he was brushing his teeth… Not so gentle reminder in his opinion.
Well, all of that was making him ponder about becoming completely insane in order to have an excuse of doing whatever he wanted at the moment he wanted…
Too tired to proof read…
December, 21 st, 2057
Manon was diligently busy cooking, having already planned many mouth-watering dishes on her menu, like poêléed (pan-seared) foie gras on roquette fig salad, lobster in ginger and scallion soy sauce, ostrich fillets with dauphine potatoes, and loads of exotic desserts and tarts.
Lord Wrick had told Manon that Becky was a vegetarian, but even Lord Wrick had trouble telling the cook what she should cook or not. Manon considered it a matter of rude interference upon her artistic culinary tastes, and no one was to tell her how to stir her sheep, so to speak. And secretly, she was sure that Becky would love her delicious Christmas menu.
In the meantime, Nanny Gibbon was having India Louise and Cuthbert prepare the twinkling Christmas tree. The garlands were a bright electric blue crisscrossing the branches of the huge silver fir, dangling under the weight of shiny red balls. The children were delighted to see Granddad Sean and they could hardly keep in place, and were giggling with joy.
This past month, with the settling down of winter, the light had been scarce, and even with knowing that all was purposeful, they’d rather create purposeful adventures in the Equatorial part of the world, where days were longer and temperatures balmier. They could almost tell that Manfred the cat was agreeing.
Search Results for 'dishes'
Viewing 16 results - 1 through 16 (of 16 total)
Viewing 16 results - 1 through 16 (of 16 total)