Chardonnay

| Wednesday, February 20, 2013 | 0 comments |
A little background on this one is necessary, I think, just to confirm that I haven't completely lost my shit. Penny and I were at a local bar on the weekend to watch a bunch of aging rockers strut their stuff. Amid the madness, a man sat at the bar who looked totally out of place. He was drinking Chardonnay in a Budweiser bar and was dressed to the nines....creepy does not describe his look and demeanor, and as I found myself staring at him, this came to mind..............

The sound of the guitars in the small room was deafening, but the crowd was soaking it up. Middle-aged men in Affliction t-shirts pounded their fists in the air. The women danced in front of the stage, their baby fat bodies squeezed into outfits plucked from the closets of their teenage daughters. The smell of spilled bear and stale sweat mixed with the powdery scent of dry ice to create a biker bar potpourri that the crowd breathed in willingly. The rock gods on stage were old, but they still put on a show; the lead singer swung his dyed golden locks in time to the guitar riffs, his eyeliner now streaking down his face and nestling in the deep lines barely hidden by his foundation. The crowd didn't care how he looked, especially since most of them were reaching that age themselves. They sung, they danced, and they threw back their cheap beers at a rate that equaled the speed of the music.

That kept the people behind the massive wooden horseshoe-shaped bar busy. They tossed beer can to servers and pulled pints as fast as they could, "talking" to the patrons seated at the bar in a series of nods and finger points that indicated their order was next. Nestled among the sweaty crowd was an immaculately dressed man in his mid-fifties. He sat at the bar, posture perfect, hair perfectly combed, and tailored suit ironed to wrinkle free perfection. The dark clothes were in stark contrast to his ghostly pale skin, which seemed to be almost translucent, so tightly was it stretched over his hollow cheekbones. The bartender pointed at him, waiting for his order, but the man just stared, cold blue eyes seeming to burn a hole through the server.

"DUDE!! What you drinking.?"

The eyes shifted ever so slightly in a quick up and down motion. "Chardonnay," he said.

"Any particular fucking year, man?" the bartender asked with a laugh.

"Whatever you have is fine, just bring me a Chardonnay."

The bartender muttered something under his breath as he pulled a fingerprint stained wine glass from overhead. Reaching into the fridge, he poured the wine from a box that featured a picture of some glorious French valley, but which was actually concocted in a little hick town 50 miles north of Atlanta. He slid the glass across the bar and said, "Eight bucks, dude."

Unblinking, the man dropped a ten on the bar, the note as pristine and clean as his suit. "Keep the rest."

The bartender flicked the man a small, one finger gun salute before moving on to the next person at the bar.

The band was in high gear now, blasting out an old AC/DC song that had the crowd hollering at high volume. He may have looked out of place, but the man's lips moved in time to the music, never missing a word.

"You like this song?"

He turned his head to face the woman asking the question. She looked like an advertisement for a cut-rate plastic surgeons office: botox lips, pulled back skin, and over-sized breasts all clearly on display. He just stared at her, still no sign of a blink, but the blue of his eyes seemed to be getting a little darker.

She leaned in closer, thinking he hadn't heard. "I see you singing. Do you like this song?" Her swollen lips brushed against his ear as she spoke. She knew what she was doing. She saw his clothes, the perfectly groomed nails hair, and she smelled money. She thought he looked creepy, but she'd been with worse.

"You feel like dancing?" she asked, lips a little closer still, tongue flicking against his lobe.

He turned to face her now, rictus smile plastered across his too tight face. "Perhaps a kiss?"

She shuddered involuntarily, but was spurred on by the designer label she spied on the inside of his jacket. Without answering, she leaned in and pressed her lips to his. They felt dry and cold, and she felt a little flutter of something not quite right begin to niggle inside. He put his hand on the back of her neck and puller her closer still, her cosmetically engineered breasts pushing against him. She started to struggle, but his grip became tighter, nails starting to dig into the flesh on the nape of her neck. She couldn't move and felt the panic swell further still when he clamped his teeth down on her tongue.

A Guns n' Roses song echoed around the bar, the sound obliterating her muffled pleas for help. He gripped her tongue tighter still with his teeth, jaws moving ever so slightly as he started to saw through the meat. Once he had it tight in his grip, he started to suck, the way one does when lassoing a long piece of pasta. His Adam's apple bobbed up and down as though it has a fish on the line. The slurping continued until her tongue was gone completely and she had gone limp in his arms. He turned back to the bar, propping her against it as he did so. He held his glass of wine up to the light cast by the NASCAR race showing on TV and then guzzled it down.

The bartender rolled around again and said, "Wanna see a menu, dude?"

"I ate already." He slid the empty glass across the bar. "Chardonnay."

Chef's Special

| Wednesday, February 6, 2013 | 2 comments |
She looked across the expanse of the massive wooden desk, a slack-jawed expression written across her face, trying to make sure she had heard him properly.

The man smiled and repeated the words once more, "Congratulations Miss Stephenson, you are the new Executive Chef of Krave."

Reaching across the desk, he shook her hand perfunctorily as she muttered a totally inadequate, "Thank you."

He smiled again,whilst licking his fingers and flicking through a stack of papers arranged on the desk. "There are just a few formalities to take car of before I show you to your kitchen," he said, before finally finding the paper he was looking for. "Here we are. I just need you to look over this contract and sign at the bottom, please."

His smile examined fixed as she perused the document, barely taking in the words types neatly on the official looking document. The Krave logo stood out like a beacon on the top of the page, virtually blinding her in its luminescence. This was a dream come true, so she hastily scribbled her name before the owner had a chance to change his mind.

She started to regain some of her composure as they made their way to the kitchen, her professional instincts starting to kick in. The fact that she was now the head of one of the hottest restaurants in the city was beginning to sink home, but it also raised a few questions.

"Thank you again for choosing me, Mr. Craven, but I have to ask you why you chose me for the position. I am sure you must have had some more experienced chef's apply for the position."

He placed a hand on her arm, stopping as he did so. She turned towards him and saw that smile on his face once more. He sighed a little and said, "Chef, the answer is very simple, really. We wanted a fresh take on what we offer here at Krave. Our customers expect a higher standard, which is what we feel you can deliver."

"But..."

"But, nothing. Our previous chef was brilliant and our customers love what he served to them, but he looked just about done in the past few weeks. It was time for something new, something fresh, and you have all the qualifications."

She smiled at that, pleased that the sample dished she made must have caught the attention of the owner. She new that she was taking a chance, drawing from the flavors of the south, but it seemed that the L.A scene must be ready for just such a change.

They continued up the gloomy kitchen before breaking through the swinging doors and into the most beautiful kitchen she had ever seen. She had been impressed on the first visit when she had concocted her samples, but it seemed all the more beautiful now that she knew it was hers.She loved the hustle and bustle of a busy kitchen, but with the restaurant closed, as it was now, she could also appreciate the solitude and stainless beauty of the space as well.

She jumped a little when Craven placed his hand on here back. He chuckled, a guttural little sound that spooked her just a little. "I didn't mean to startle you, chef."

She laughed, too, but it was forced. "That's fine. I was somewhere else for a moment."

"You will meet your staff shortly, as I have asked them all to come in for this happy occasion, but for now let me show you our walk in freezer and the supplies we have in there."

He took her arm again, a little habit that was beginning to raise some red flags. She knew all too well how difficult it could be to operate in a man's world, which was exactly what the kitchen was. She made a mental note to herself that she would change that way of thinking by letting her new staff know that she was the boss. She would broach that subject with Craven if the touching continued.

Moving as though adjusting her jacket, she was able to wrest her arm away from his touch, but was a little startled to see him lick his fingers once more. He noticed her look and smiled. "Sorry. I have been a nail biter for years and am in the process of trying to quit. I have this vile substance on my nails that delivers a nasty little taste when I get the urge to gnaw." At that, he made a gnashing motion with his teeth, revealing gums that were unnaturally white, save for a dribble of red that leaked down his incisor.

"Mr. Craven, you are bleeding," she said.

He ran his tongue across his teeth, smacking his lips when he was done. Then, with thumb and forefinger, he reached in and extracted something from his mouth. He held it up to the light, revealing a ragged piece of fingernail which, with its red-tipped end, looked like a match waiting to be struck.

"I have been a naughty boy," he said. "I must be making the worst impression ever."

She had no idea how to react, save for trying to quell the rising gorge. Her instincts told her to run, yet she let herself be led, by the arm once again, into the freezer.

Craven continued on as if the previous little scene had never happened.

"We use fresh wherever possible, but as you know, chef, too much waste can destroy food costs. You will find all that you need in here, starting with this."

He bent down and removed a large plastic container from the one of the lower shelves. A brown substance was clearly visible through the plastic, the "Chef's Special" label giving no clue as to what might be contained within.

"This is all that is left of out previous chef, I'm afraid. He gave as much as he could, but the clientele loved him so much, there simply wasn't enough to go round."

She took a little step backwards. "I....I'm not sure what you are saying Mr. Craven."

"I lied just a little when I explained why I hired you, " he said, thumb and forefinger working once more to show the size of his fib."You are the perfect choice for Krave, but your samples are of no significance. Others will prepare the sides and garnishes, while you will be the star of the show."

She took another step backwards, almost tripping over a large tray that protruded from under the bottom shelf.

"You are perfect in that you are new to town, chef. You have no friends or connections here. You have no family to speak of. I was so touched by how you broke ties with them all those years ago, looking to get out and find a way to forge your own life. You are forgettable in every sense, but our patrons will never forget you, of that I can assure you."

She turned to run, only to find the door barred by three large individuals. Their faces were obscured by the headpieces of the hazmat suits they wore, although she could hear their fevered breaths slipping through the breathers.

A solitary tear slid down her cheek as she sensed the end. Craven reach out and wiped it away, taking the salty tear and rubbing it ever so gently across his lips. He shuddered involuntarily, the smile once again appearing on his face.

"Yes. Perfect."

She didn't move as he placed a kiss on her cheek, his tongue exploring her soft skin. He shuddered again before beckoning his staff into the freezer.

"Gentlemen, please prepare the new chef's special."