World of Ham

This is the theme of our latest writing challenge with no indoor voice. What fun! this is my contribution:

‘HAROLD! GET IN HERE!’ Adam held the bowl to his nose and took another whiff of the garnished risotto. Immediately, his nose dramatically screwed up and he held the offensive bowl at arm’s length. At his yell, the hum of the kitchen went on without a blink.

Adam sauntered to the back door, flicking a glowing cigarette stub into the alley. He casually leaned on the door frame. ‘What do you want now, ADAM?’ His voice dripped acid and arrogance.

Adam barrelled his generous, bouncing-ball belly around benches towards the perfect, chisel-cut and tall blonde and stopped in his shadow.

‘How can you think this is acceptable? It’s different from the menu.’ Adam shoved the bowl under Harold’s nose. ‘To serve it to paying customers?’

There was something in the sharp inflection of his voice that demanded attention. The general clatter in the room hushed: the kitchen hands stopped dicing, frying and washing up as they looked up. The sous chef lifted his head, withdrawing his tea towel from the plates lined up – waiting to be touched-up before heading out to customers. All eyes and silent bodies oscillated to the new Head Chef and the owner of the restaurant.

Harold ran disdainful eyes over the bowl, peering down his nose. ‘The risotto is fine. You quibble over nothing. I am the best. You pay for the best. My food is good. No … it is excellent.’

Adam’s ear tips turned red thru his black sweating mop. He flicked the mop from his eyes. ‘This is not how we do things here. We do not make the risotto with red wine. We use white wine. The customers want white wine.’

The sous chef sniggered.

‘It is how I do things. Besides, how do you know?’ questioned Harold imperiously.

Adam spluttered, spit dribbling down his chin. ‘How… how do I know?’

‘Yes. How?’

‘I’LL TELL YOU WHAT I KNOW … HOW DARE YOU QUESTION ME?’

A few of the kitchen hands spontaneously muttered to each other.

‘Let us ask the customers,’ stated Harold, unperturbed.

In a fluid movement – swift and deliberate – Harold strode, dodging benches, thru the kitchen, passing by many a dropped jaw, and burst through the doors into the restaurant-proper, his chest prouder than a peacock. He looked resplendent in his whites and chef hat. Dimmed lighting allowed the many harbour lights to shine through the floor-to-ceiling windows like night stars. The room turned as one towards the commotion as door flapped to silence behind the presence of Harold. ‘IT IS I – HAROLD FORVEUAX – YOUR CHEF. Answer me this – do you come here for my cooking or the name over the door?’

One customer leaned on her table, head in hands, eyes wide and unfocused, and stared at Harold. She whispered to her husband across the table, thru the silence, not seeing the man she had married, ‘He is as gorgeous as they say. What an Adonis.’

Customers gradually recovered from their surprise and flashes from mobile cameras started to burst throughout the room.

Another woman rose from her table with a group of friends, rummaged thru her bag and triumphantly pulled out a pen. She grabbed a napkin from the nearest table and said in a husky “come-to-bed” voice, ‘What a silly question! Of course … for you,’ she offered Harold the pen and napkin, saying breathlessly, ‘Can I have your autograph?’

‘Of course, dearest lady,’ he said, obliging. Quickly, he took and signed the napkin before graciously returning it.

‘YOU!’ yelled another woman.

‘YOU!’ cried another enthusiastic woman.

Cries of ‘you!’ echoed around the room, taking up the cry.

‘YOU,’ said a man in a firm voice.

Harold’s head turned sharply toward the male voice. A well-cut man grinned back at him. ‘Stay till after we close. I’ll have a drink with you.’

Thwarted and disappointed, but not surprised, sighs were audible throughout the room.

Adam had followed Harold thru the doors to watch, without the so-called offensive bowl, and now Harold spun on his heels to pounce. ‘See? I am adored. I am an artist. We keep the red wine or I leave.’

Adam surveyed the room, swallowed heavily and fell to his knees. He threw his arms into the air. ‘I GIVE UP!’ Resigned, he said, ‘The red stays.’

Harold smirked. ‘I am the best for a reason. Know that.’

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