Monday, October 22, 2012

Plucking the goose

It had been a bugger of a day in the kitchen. Full house that evening.  A commis chef's finger almost amputated.  Somebody had to be spared to  take him to A & E.  Two staff short at a critical time and inevitable delays.  A row with front of house about a customer intent on trouble-making.  Hardly surprising that scrubbing down, the  traditional  after-service chore for the brigade which he never shirked himself, took longer than usual.

Home at last he fumbles with the key to his flat. Then he remembers it's not his flat. It's their flat. His and Sylvie's since Sylvie had moved in six days ago. Normally he would have extracted a can from the fridge, turned on the TV,  flopped on the sofa,  and almost certainly fallen asleep immediately, beer not drunk, TV still going. But now he must be quiet so as not to wake her. She too has to be up early in the morning.

 He has himself been up since 5 am today, or rather yesterday. The visit to the fish market was important. Getting ingredients right is 80 per cent of good cooking. The best advice he had been given on the way to his first Michelin star.  You  have to keep suppliers on their toes. But, God, is he tired! He takes his shoes off and creeps across the sitting room. He'd showered in the restaurant. But he needs a pee.  In the bathroom he pees. Then still on tip-toe  he eases open the door of the bedroom to be greeted by feminine smells, perfume and cosmetics to which he is not yet accustomed.  There she is curled up on her side of the bed apparently asleep. His clothes seem to fall off, and in a moment he is blissfully under the sheets, his eyes closed.

"Do you know what the time is?"  Sylvie's voice. Or is he dreaming? He swims on into sleep.

Sylvie props herself up on her elbow and in the darkness between them says:

 " Did you do it? Did you shag her? No answer from you. So of course you did. Was it a good shag? And where precisely did it occur? On the pastry bench, kneading flesh instead of dough. Or on the shag pile carpet on the restaurant floor? She may be the best pastry chef in London. It doesn't count with me. It's 2.30:   at least two hours later than usual, and you didn't call me.  Too busy with your fun and games.  Too busy being a celebrity? Plucking the goose. I knew it would  ruin you,  that TV series.  Of course you are silent.  Don't bother to say anything. No excuses makes a change.

"I saw the way she looked at you the other day. And I saw the way you looked at her tarte au citron. Oh?  Nice of you to ask, except you don't.  My God I've had a hell of a day. Not that you would care. Too many women want to tear that white jacket off your back. But you're not the only one to get the attention, though. My boss made a pass at me today. Then he hinted that he'd get me the sack. I'll get him. Don't you worry, I'll get him and I'll get you too. Imagine coming back to an empty flat after a day like I've had. Sitting in front of a screen chasing numbers, only a sandwich for lunch, and then alone all evening. Nothing to think about but you and that tart of a pastry chef..."

And so she went on, letting it all  out, talking into the dark.

 When  four hours later the alarm went, "For Christ's sake let me sleep, " she said. "I 've been awake all night"

" Me", he said as he switched off the alarm."I must have gone out like a light. " 

1 comment:

  1. The knowledge given to the reader about these two characters which they lack about each other makes this story extremely sad, and funny at the same time. Great narrative.