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554. NuPlanetOne - 4/25/2006 1:49:21 AM

The Chicken Piccata Test

Chapter 2 Asses

“You set for specials yet?” The office manager stood in the doorway of her cave at the far end of the back line prep area with two limp arms dangling by her side. Both hands held jumbles of paperwork.
“You are the only special thing I like to think of.” She had no clue, really, how hot she was. She was a plain Jane, as she liked to describe herself, but take my word for it; she was the kind of plain that could be transformed into any type or vision of beauty. Especially in the right hands. I wish I had the right hands.
“Carlito!” I need to be out of here by 4.” She banged her thighs with the papers as she spoke. And I tried not to look at those thighs.
“Carlito!” I trilled with the proper accent.
“Well Charlie, that’s what they all call you. And you don’t mind it when Rosalie coos it like a Spanish sex line operator!”
I sensed…I don’t know what I sensed. But I thought for half an instant that she was trying to be playful. She frowned with half her face, almost like she was going to attempt a sly or coy look. People were saying things.
“Rosalie,” I said definitively having complete and very well rehearsed control of my facial expressions.
“She,” I continued, “is just green card shopping. And what..19?” I don’t know why I threw that in as if that might be a disqualification.
“Well, like you always say to that perverted fish monger, you got to try it before you buy it.” Wow! She had wonderful control of her face saying that and her usual blue-sky eye twinkle matured into a leer, or a jeer, or almost something sensual. I was flabbergasted. Did we just have a conversation that included something deep?
“Green Cards?” She added with a new look of tell me more. It was like a drop everything and let’s talk about it tone. Like she really wanted to know the details and shit. Odd.
“Give me about 30 minutes. I almost got it figured out.”
“O.K.” She said morphing suddenly and completely plain then turned 360 as the papers in her hands fanned the circle.
“O.K.” I ignored the fanned circle and could only see her ass. My God! Was I thinking about Kara’s ass? I mean I often think about Kara’a ass, but these were confusing thoughts about Kara’s ass. I needed some air.

Outside the back door a beer truck idled and the stink of diesel made my cigarette taste like dog shit. I could see in the truck side mirror that the driver was on his cell so I banged the tail of the truck and waved bye bye at his image in the mirror. He gave a head jerk like a tough guy at his view of my reflected image then rolled the truck to the far end of the back parking lot and stopped to finish his chat. I heard hurried footsteps off to my left and before I could react Rosalie was smack in my face.
“Carlito.” She wasn’t cooing.
“Rosalita.” Said I. Stern and solid.
“Deed you have time to fill up the papers for me?” She threw a flow of black, purplish shining black, excruciatingly clean hair over her left shoulder. It fell like hanging satin and peeked briefly from around her right hip. I tried not to inhale, but unless there was a blooming lilac bush hiding in the trash dumpster, then the fragrance that hit me as she flung that velvet mane would have convinced Adam to eat the whole apple.
“Ah…oh..almost. Pretty soon.” I said like somebody else talking.
“Eeez no hooree. I kane going no places anyway.” She said with her incredible mouth. Aside from the accent she had a natural lisp or affectation in her manner of speaking and it was exciting to watch her shape the words.
“Why do you look so fooney at my face?” She brushed her chin as if trying to swat something.
“Funny? Oh, nothing, I’m just thinking funny things lately.” I got off her mouth but got stuck in her eyes. Her eyes were dangerous. That’s what I saw. I saw danger in there. It was like another world just over the horizon but to get there I had to pass through a molten black nether land with no guarantee there was a way back. I wanted to touch the spot between her eyebrows. It was time to get moving.
“Well, don’t worry Ro Ro,” I said matter of factly as I flicked my cigarette butt away and shook myself back to this portion of reality.
“We will talk later about the papers. You need to get hopping and set up in there. I want to run the cheese soufflé again. You did incredible with those last night. I know they are tricky, but you figured it out nicely. Teach Marcos. Then he will help when you are getting killed with salads. And don’t be afraid to ask Philip if he is not too busy. Just don’t bug him if he’s actually building a dessert. I don’t want him just standing there or flirting with Marcos. O.K?”
“Sim. Yes. Hoppin” She rocked her head up and down and rolled her eyes. I fell out of them. She slid past me and I swung my head after her. I don’t understand how all that hair fits into a baseball cap. But I did understand how that ass fit into those jeans. I needed a fifth special. I decided on the salmon.

555. NuPlanetOne - 4/25/2006 1:50:04 AM

First thing inside the door I caught Fabiano whizzing by heading to the walk in refrigerator. He was carrying a sheet tray of Risotto that I knew he had just spread and was going to lay it out to quick cool.
“Hold it,” I said. He rolled his eyes and tipped the tray toward me.
“Are these the new Porcinis?” I had ordered a new dried Porcini mushroom that promised to have no grit once they were reconstituted. I hated when the dust that crumbled from the dried mushrooms found its way into the rice. Even though the residue was a wonderful essence in other recipes and sauces, I did not want it discoloring my risotto. And if you’ve ever had this creamy Italian rice paired correctly with the Porcini, the only improvements you can render is getting the color and look right. Too much residue and a gray creeps in that stunts the contrast. Doesn’t hurt the taste really, but the base risotto is Milanese. This means that aside from genuine Parmigiano Reggianno cheese, there is a modicum of saffron. If you understand the power and intensity of this stamen, then you quickly learn that to master its use, you need relentless practice. The guy that taught me to make Risotto Milanese wrote the book. The pale, but unmistakable gold of the perfect Milanese the correct amount of saffron creates, blends almost perfectly with the yellow gold, quartered, grilled zucchini slices that are added at service. They are like seductive eyes silhouetted by the brown of the mushroom and field of creamy, luxurious aborio rice. The rice itself is an event on the palate that pummels and satiates the taste buds, let alone porcini, zucchini and saffron.
“Al dente?” I asked as he leveled the tray and continued on his journey.
“Don’t forget the polenta.” Was his answer that came out of the walk-in door as he went in.
“Shit!” I scurried to the freezer. I had a tray of polenta quick cooling that had to be cut and branded. Because well made polenta was so hard to grill I had devised a mini branding iron that seared in some grill marks without dissolving the polenta. That way it would just sear the top and cool quickly. Perfect grill marks and ready to cut to order. One could make a dry, oil free polenta and throw it smack on the fire. But real Italian polenta, well, it melts.
“Bastard,” I muttered as I came out of the freezer.
“Boss, you know that is offensive,” Fabiano grinned standing by the door in wait.
“My mother thought it was legal papers she had filled up. My brother Enrico is the real bastard you see, we did not know about him.”
“Very sweet story, my heart breaks,” I deadpanned. “I didn’t know you had a Mother.”
“Oh, sim. She loves me very much Boss” Playing along.
“Did she sign the papers?” I made my muffled chuckle that everyone tried to copy and time.
“Ha hup,” He got it right. Though not quite as guttural.
“Polenta,” I grinned.
“Done, all marked.” He lifted his right eyebrow. “Salmon?” He asked.
“Ya, do the poach over asparagus. Lemon dill. No temp.” As if he hadn’t figured that out too.
“Boss, I think Rosalie always keep one eye on you.” He had that concerned Fabiano face that I couldn’t always decipher.
“I like both eyes,” I said solid and filled it with my personal business tone while for a second thinking back into the shiny crow-black of the molten nether land I was afraid to visualize.
“Oh, of course, sim, ha hup.” His timing sucked on that nervous mime.
“Oh, grab the radicchio, and check the soufflé base for Rosalita, par about 15, I got a feeling they will move tonight.”
“Rosalita, ha hup.” Fabiano chirped. He was on the move.

556. NuPlanetOne - 4/25/2006 1:50:43 AM

I headed off to the office to finalize the night’s specials. As I approached the door I saw Rosalie squatting and reaching into the grill station line refrigerator. She looked like any other cook scrambling to get set up.
“You ready K?’ I asked Kara as I flopped into the seat behind her at the computer.
“K?” She echoed. “Wow, I got a pet name too.” She slid her chair next to mine.
“Oh ya, special K,” I said as I brought up the specials file.
“Clever. I get it. Specials, Kara, very sweet.” She was never right next to me like this. Stood behind me really. She was haired to take over the office duties out of the blue when Donna left suddenly to finish school. Standoffish and measured. Two months now and very little genuine or earth moving give and take. And now she was staring at me.
“You have a tiny speck of green inside the blue in your left eye,” I said after a few seconds passed during which I decided that unlike Rosalie’s eyes there was nothing mysterious or seemingly forbidden in these eyes. Certainly no danger or darkness to pass through. Actually, it was as if I could see clear through to the other side. I could drive right in, she just needed to mark the destination with an on ramp.
“What?” She said and blinked. “Oh, yes. It’s just an imperfection in the iris.”
“No, it’s a beauty spot,” I winked.
“No, hardly, I think,” she said as she pushed off from the desk a bit and opened both eyes wider. Now there was something in there. But it was forced or undecided and flashed away quickly. She pushed away a little bit further and played with her fingers and was all plain Jane again.
“Kidding aside,” she said now with kind of a puppy dog face. “Do these girls really go after guys just in hopes of getting a Green Card?”
“Definitely,” I said like a dad telling his daughter there was no Santa Clause. “Some of them will do almost anything to avoid putting up a little cash to buy a deal,” I monotoned letting it hang at the end in case we were actually having a serious conversation.
“And Rosalie,” she hesitatingly suggested, “Is she that kind of girl?”
I darted my eyes to her face and before she could adjust the blankness in her look I thought I caught something calculated. Or was it jealousy. Her eyes darted right, then down at her fingers. No ring. I hadn’t bothered to notice that before.
“Don’t know,” I said as if she had asked about the Easter Bunny.
“Rosalie is complicated,” I added. This time as I shot a look it was met with a pouting complacency and a willingness to stare back at me. I held the gaze to see if I could look through it, but now there was something different in there. It looked pleasant and friendly, seductive in a positive sense. Like I was considered for something, or needed for something. It even looked like affection or attraction. Whatever it was, she had the ability to flash on and off at will. But no enter sign. Signs pointing this way, perhaps, but no on ramp. She frowned and her eyes shaded a little green and watery and the speck became more noticeable.
“Complicated?” She sounded surprised as if she had the girl all figured out. And I know by that it meant figured out in the female sense. Clothes-wise, how she worked her assets, ok, her ass. Basically, how she performed as a girl as compared to how she, herself, went about it. The tone said, ‘Hey, what are you stupid?”
“Ya, there’s something going on there,” I said really trying to sound stupid.
“I mean, you know. Ah, more than the obvious.”
I watched her and she winced as if I was going to tell her a secret or something. Then she did the plain Jane thing and looked down at her fingers. But when her head came up her eyelids rose slowly like a curtain at a stage play. What looked out from her eyes now was unmistakable. It was dangerous, but not lethal. It only threatened to examine things in me like commitment, values, and sincerity. It suggested questions no twice-burned man likes to deal with. Moral integrity, ability to love, family and flag. And I could only look to the side of it. Why could I look into the mysterious and unknown depth of Rosalie’s eyes head on, but I shied from this pure and wholesome gaze that wasn’t sexual in the dark sense, but so sexual and sensual because it did not hide from the light of day? And why was I even looking at these kinds of eyes, I am officially sworn off these kinds of eyes. I have absolutely no luck or business in there.
“Sorry,” she said pushing away. “You are trying to type.”
“It’s O.K.” I said out of the corner of my mouth, eyes fixed on the monitor. “Since we are throwing around a few new subjects here,” I said to the monitor then turned right to look at her. “You not married?” And I looked quickly at her fingers.
“No,” she said looking down immediately stretching her fingers out straight for a second then back to plain Jane playing with them.
“I was engaged till about three months ago,” she said with a half frown.
“Wow,” I said jumping right back to my typing. “Honestly, I didn’t want to stir up any unpleasantness. Now I’m sorry.”
“Oh, no, it’s alright, really,” she said. I knew she was going to talk about it. But she didn’t. Because just then Fabiano knocked on the open door of the office with his middle knuckle and leaned in with a side-glance and raised his right eyebrow looking at us.
“This is a bad time, my best friends?” He gave us the charmed look that made the dimple in his left cheek visible as both our heads swung toward the voice like alerted animals in the forest.
“Never a good time for you, ha hup,” I chimed turning quickly back to the monitor. Kara continued looking at him.
“How are you Fabiano?” She asked sliding away from me and toward him a little.
“I am very well, thank you. But I wish I got more beautiful every day like you,” he crooned. I didn’t look.
“Oh, I only wish,” she said apologetically. I snuck a peek and saw a little flush in her cheeks.
“But you are sweet to say that,” fully composed. “Come in.”
“Is o.k.” He said leaning on the doorknob then got down to business.
“Boss. What is this Scallops Istanbul?” I swiveled to face the door.
“Oh shit, the scallops. Is it on the Board out front? I jumped up, then plunked back down. “I’m gonna have to work sauté to start things off. Don’t worry, I got all the stuff. Come on, I’ll show you the set up. It’s a pan sear.”
Fabiano had that horrified look. Me, on the Line. In the rectangle. He didn’t mean for me to see it and talked about anything else as he followed me to the walk-in. He hated any changes to his routine. It was time I spent some time in the rectangle. Besides, I had no clue as to how I was going to do my Scallops Istanbul.

557. Macnas - 4/25/2006 8:30:48 AM

More damn you, more!

558. alistairconnor - 4/25/2006 11:02:24 AM

Lovely! Palpable sexual tension, and a hint of menace with the promise of the perverted fishmonger.

For those that missed it, Chapter One is here.

559. Jenerator - 4/25/2006 5:59:23 PM

She threw a flow of black, purplish shining black, excruciatingly clean hair over her left shoulder. It fell like hanging satin and peeked briefly from around her right hip. I tried not to inhale, but unless there was a blooming lilac bush hiding in the trash dumpster, then the fragrance that hit me as she flung that velvet mane would have convinced Adam to eat the whole apple.

Brilliant.

560. webfeet - 4/25/2006 9:57:32 PM

Nu planet, this is very exciting to read-- a quick, engaging tempo, spicey dialogue, and, some joltingly funny scenes that hint at wild copulation to come. I savoured the passages on food, particularly the Risotto Milanese; yet I think you can just go up a notch on that point, let all those fabulous tactile descriptions coalesce into something less Food network, and more Marquez.

And, you can have santa clause and the easter bunny, but not both. This is very entertaining, a real treat.



561. alistairConnor - 4/25/2006 11:39:01 PM

Oh I disagree, I thought the easter bunny as the punchline to santa claus worked very well...

562. webfeet - 4/26/2006 3:41:15 AM

Is that because you still believe in them?

563. NuPlanetOne - 4/27/2006 1:03:10 AM



Thanks guys. I love the comments and encouragement. I must admit though, I never dreamed writing fiction could be so difficult. Dialogue is so important, but all the punctuation! It’s tough for a one finger typist. Anyway, given the amount of time between the first two chapters, I will try to move it along. I have a few ideas of where I’m going with it, and I must decide whom to copulate with, of course, and to introduce a dilemma. And the food, web, pardon my ignorance, but whom or what is Marquez?

564. webfeet - 4/27/2006 4:50:07 AM

Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote "Love in the Time of Cholera," which has set a kind of superhuman standard for modern literature. I think what I meant was adding something more complex emotionally, a pinch of pathos along with that saffron.

There was something so sensual and intense about all those flavors--the earthiness of the mushrooms "the creamy field" of arborio rice, that it was something of a letdown to get to the 'silhouette' of zucchini eyes and then rice 'pummeling' the taste buds. It just didn't work.

I get the feeling that anything less than adulation on this thread is discouraged. It's either shove my tongue down your throat--or be ignored. I think it's kind of healthy to give real feedback especially when you have put so much care into it.

And Scallops Istanbul? I mean, I'm dying. I have to know.



565. Macnas - 4/27/2006 8:44:12 AM

Webfeet

I know what you mean, about feedback and such, and I agree to an extent.

But there again, it's a thread for a bit of fun, not much else. If I was to seriously review all that was written here, and if other did the same, I'd doubt it'd make any of us better writers, as we're only story telling for the amusement of ourselves and other Mote-o-naughts.

In Nuplanet's case, I might make an exception, as it's very very good. So good, that he might be better off with some critique. He might be an even better writer if he's given some sound advice.

But you're the only one here (sorry now lads, tis the truth no less) who would be able to do that. I read his story and thought it just good, didn’t see anywhere that needed changing or tightening up or whatever.
I've had feedback from alistair, from time to time, but for the most part have ignored it and have never done a re-write.

Because I couldn't be bothered. Nuplanets story is so good, maybe he should be.

566. alistairconnor - 4/27/2006 10:45:06 AM

The dialogues are good. In the rest, I like the density of the sentences, the imagery, and sometimes the rythm. The bits that would need redrafting, for me, is where the rhythm doesn't work, an occasional clumsiness or laziness with word order.

567. webfeet - 4/27/2006 3:19:06 PM

You're certainly right, Macnas. Much of it is for fun and it's not a fiction writing workshop. Part of the fun is the spontaneity of it; I love it when Jenerator starts to run around with a lampshade on her head and you all follow, outdoing each other as you created that crazy story about a hooker, a cat, and a mexican bandit with a ph.d.

Yet I can't help thinking, as you, that Nuplanet genuinely wants to aspire farther, and that just stroking his ego and shouting bravo! would be a disservice to him.

When I read his story, I really lit up and stood around it like a dressmaker, tucking pins and making mental adjustments. Because I have put myself in this zone, it is a reflex. But I promise not to stick too many needles into anyone's flesh.


568. webfeet - 4/27/2006 6:16:42 PM

So as I was saying, I find Maurice Sendak very sexy. I didn't realize it. Not really, not at first. Oh and it's not because --I know what you're thinking--that dirty title "Where the Wild Things Are" would make such a great porno movie put to music, but because he is really such a curious genius, a trifle dark--all that holocaust sadness informing his work. I read in an interview that he is obsessed with "milk" and "cake". Funny, so am I!

I spend a lot of my time deconstructing Maurice Sendak, since his world has intermeshed so completely with ours--all his storybook characters--"Little Bear" and 'Chicken Soup with Rice'. I remember being slightly terrified of the latter when I was younger, disturbed when they actually showed "Chicken Soup with Rice" on television. I don't know why.

So "Brundibar" one of his more recent books, is a story about the holocaust in which the children are forced to get milk somehow or else they will be put to death-- by someone who looks a lot like Hitler. It was first a book, then an opera, and i think it's either the opera orthe musical that I'm taking my son to see in a few weeks.

I don't think we're ready for a holocaust talk yet. I'm slightly nervous.

569. Jenerator - 4/27/2006 8:59:02 PM

webfeet,

I think critiquing is helpful and I appreciate it when it's done. I wish we could all be a bit more open to learning rather than being defensive and attacking.

Your suggestions to Nu are right on.


570. Jenerator - 4/27/2006 9:02:04 PM

By the way, I am intrigued by your (and Sendak's) admitted fascination with milk and cake.

571. Snowowl - 4/28/2006 1:53:04 AM

So as I was saying, I find Maurice Sendak very sexy. I didn't realize it. Not really, not at first. Oh and it's not because --I know what you're thinking--that dirty title "Where the Wild Things Are" would make such a great porno movie put to music, but because he is really such a curious genius, a trifle dark--all that holocaust sadness informing his work. I read in an interview that he is obsessed with "milk" and "cake". Funny, so am I!

My youngest daughter is doing a course at University in Sweden and she just wrong an essay on Where the Wild Things Are.

I wish I hadn't asked her to send a copy of her essay to me. I can never pick up and read the book with the same enjoyment again! I'm far too busy noticing all the things she discusses in her essay.

572. Snowowl - 4/28/2006 1:53:35 AM

wrong = wrote

573. wonkers2 - 4/28/2006 2:46:52 AM

All of my children loved Sendak. Especially "Where the Wild Things Are." They also loved Dr. Seuss's books.

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