Friday, July 10, 2015

Pulp Fiction writing contest: Cheryl Johnson's entry.



Chef Russell Jackson's picture gave me inspiration for this story.
 
The Dissident Chef and the Mystery of the Golden Emu Egg.

“What The Marco?” exclaimed the Dissident Chef, eyebrows raised in surprise, as he surveyed the contents of the carefully packed insulated shipping crate.  The special order of organic Emu Eggs had arrived 30 minutes earlier and he was anxious to make sure none of them had been broken in transit.  When he lifted the lid and pulled off the layer of soft foam packing he saw that the egg nestled in the center of the first layer was not at all what he was expecting.  Instead of a dark green/black color, it was bright gold.  He reached in and gently picked up the golden egg.  It was feather light and felt very fragile to the touch.  He carefully held it up and turned his hand back and forth to look at the egg from all sides.

‘Hello, anyone there?” came a call from the back door of the commercial kitchen he had was using for his current Foie Gras soiree.  Chef carefully set the egg back in its place, quickly replaced the foam and crate lid and set the crate under the prep table before scurrying to the back door to see who was arriving.

There was a tall brunette standing just inside the back door.  He smiled as he read the ‘I love Rock & Roll’ logo on her light blue t-shirt.   ”Hello, how can I help you” asked the Dissident Chef.  I am looking for a Chef to cater a private party this weekend and was told I might be able to find someone to help me here at this kitchen.” said the woman.  “My name is Cheri, may I ask who you are?”  It’s very nice to meet you Cheri.  I am called the Dissident Chef.  I don’t know who referred you to this kitchen, but I am afraid there isn’t anyone here at this time that could help you.  I do cook for private events from time to time, but I am busy this weekend with an event of my own.”  “Oh, I see” she said disappointedly, “Well do you know of anyone or any place else I could contact that might be available?”  Chef quickly thought through his list of chef friends, ripped off a small piece of white butcher paper and wrote down several names for her to contact.  She thanked him; he told her good luck with her private party, locked the back door behind her and hurried to the front of the kitchen to lock the front door before lifting the crate back up to the prep table top. 

He once again removed the lid and packing and lifted the golden egg out. This time he noticed a small folded piece of paper resting under the egg.  He removed the paper, replaced the egg and unfolded the paper.  The note inside read:  “To the Dissident Chef, please keep this safe for me until I can come to San Francisco to retrieve it from you.  Thanks You”.  The note was just signed “T”.  The Dissident Chef was baffled.  He started going through the list of all the people he knew who had first or last names starting with T.   Finally he took out his cell phone and speed dialed a number. “Hey Lance, you know that case of Organic Emu eggs you ordered for me from your special source?  Well, I need to know where they come from and how to contact the supplier.”  “Was there something wrong with the order?” his friend Lance asked.  “No, I just have some questions about the eggs that only the supplier can answer. “Said Chef. Lance was silent for a moment, and then he said “Well, I have to telegraph my orders into the supplier.  I understand the Emu farm is on a small island off the coast so they don’t have phone or internet.  I just know that I telegraph my order and get a return telegram with the expected arrival date and the eggs come on time every time.”

“Hmmm” said the Dissident Chef.  “Well do you at least know the name of the Emu farm?”  “Yes, it’s The Golden Emu Farm”.  “Thanks Lance, I’ll see if I can’t find some way of contacting them.”  Lance wished him good luck and he ended the call.    The Dissident Chef knew he didn’t have time to spend on this mystery right now.  He should be cooking for the 6 course dinner he was serving in two days, but he could not resist entering the Emu farm name into the internet search box.  After about 45 minutes of searching he had found the name of the island where the Emu farm was located.  He knew any further action on the egg mystery would have to wait until after the dinner, so he wrapped the golden egg in several kitchen towels, put together several layers of foam take-out boxes and cocooned the fragile egg inside.  He then placed the package with his other personal items to take home that night.  Soon his staff arrived and the kitchen was abuzz with activity.  Chef was too busy to think about the egg again until he got home that night.  He surveyed his own kitchen, trying to decide where would be the safest place to put the egg.  He finally decided to leave it in the packaging and hide it in his pantry cupboard behind the giant sized jar of Nutella he kept for his late night chocolate cravings.  He ran through the list of names staring with T again as he ate a couple spoonfuls of Nutella before setting the jar in place to hide the egg package.  He still could not imagine who had sent the egg.

The next two days were so busy he did not have time to think about the egg.  His 6 course dinner went off without a hitch, except a small kitchen fire when a towel got too close to the stove flame.  All of his guests left with smiles and full happy tummies. 

As the tired, but happy Dissident Chef collapsed on the couch in his apartment, he again thought of the egg hidden in his cupboard.  He had put the note that came with it in his wallet and now took it out to see if he could maybe recognize the hand writing.  It didn’t seem familiar to him.   He moved over to his desk and started to search for travel information to visit the island where the Emu farm was located.  There were several boat rental companies listed for transporting cargo to and from the island.  Chef noted down their numbers and decided to call the next day to see if they also took passengers to the island.  As he fell asleep that night he was still running through the names of people he knew that started with the letter T. 

The first shipping company he called the next morning immediately stated that they were not making the trip to that island anymore because the tides and reefs made it too dangerous.  The second company had a going-out-of-business message on their recording, but the third company he called said that yes, they were still picking up and delivering shipments.  He was ten told that they would not be going to the island again for several weeks because of bad weather.  “With the shallow reefs and strong currents this time of year about the only way to get onto that island is to parachute in” stated the crusty seaman who had answered the phone.  “Well”, thought the Dissident Chef to himself. “Lucky for me that I am a seasoned skydiver if it really comes down to that.”  He thanked the old gentleman and hung up the phone. 

His hope of going to the island to solve the mystery dashed, he took out the egg package and unwrapped it to check the egg for any more clues.  As he sat there turning it over and over trying to think of another way to solve the mystery, his doorbell rang.  When he checked to see who was in the hall he recognized his old friend Tory B.  He opened the door and greeted Tory warmly.  “What are you doing in SF?” he asked Tory.  “I came to pick up the egg” said Tory.  The Dissident Chef felt the questions tumbling quickly out. “What? . . . You’re the one who sent it?  How did you get it?  What were you doling on the island?  Why did you send it to me?”  Tory held up his hand to stop the rapid fire barrage.  “I’ll tell you the whole story, but first do you have any beer in your fridge, I could kill for one right now

Tory was with a film crew filming the lives of the hill people of the island.  One of the village elders took a liking to Tory and gave him the golden egg as a present.  The elder said it had been made for his Grandmother as a wedding gift from his Grandfather but he did not have any children to pass it down to.  Many of the other island residents knew Tory had been given the egg and were not happy that it would be leaving the island with him.  He was sure there would be trouble when he tried to take it home.  He and his crew were given a tour of the Emu farm and when they were in the shipping facility Tory spotted the unsealed crate with the Dissident Chefs’ name and the SF address on it.  He decided to slip the egg into the crate but didn’t have time to write a long note of explanation so decided a short one would have to do.  He knew he could trust his old friend to keep it safe for him.  Tory was right about the trouble.  No one ever asked him directly about the egg, but when they got to the mainland and claimed their luggage it was evident that it all had been searched thoroughly.  The Dissident Chef put the golden egg back in its strange package for his friend to take home.  As Tory left with the package the Dissident Chef said.  “Hey Tory, next time you have to smuggle something home would you please send it to someone else?”  Tory laughed and agreed to the Chefs’ request.  As he shut his apartment door he was relieved to have the mystery of the golden Emu egg solved at last but sad to think he didn’t have any excuse now to parachute onto the island.  Oh well, maybe next time . . .    The End.

 

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