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Dinner Disaster
prose [ ]

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by [jaw ]

2012-03-05  |     | 



My wife takes the first sip of her cappuccino and gives a great sigh. I smile into the deep, brown, pool of her eyes.

They brighten.

“I have an idea,” I tell her.

“I hope this doesn’t include burning down the house or throwing one of the grandchildren over a cliff,” she frowns, but I see the twinkle in her eye.

“I’ve had a bit of bad luck with some of my ideas granted, but both the house and our granddaughter survived,” I defend myself.

“Luck,” she retaliates.

She loves to give me a hard time. I think it may be something to do with her Latina heritage. She’s a spunky one, that’s certain.

“This is simple,” I explain, “I will cook dinner.”

She beams. “That is a good idea.”

“I thought you would like it.”

She knows I’m a good cook. Sometimes I think that’s the main reason she married me thirty-four years ago. Not only do I cook well, I have an imagination for new, tasty dishes. She appreciates it, as do our girls, and one of our sons-in-law, who call me for recipes and cooking advice.

“What are you thinking?” She asks.

My eyes become dreamy. “We have that beef roast in the freezer that you bought on sale.”

She is delighted. She loves beef, though we eschew it in favour of leaner, and, we think, healthier choices like chicken, fish, and turkey. She was raised in a middle class household in Mexico. The middle class is small in México, but her Dad grew sugar cane and had a livable income, brick house, and a beautiful daughter. Well... several beautiful daughters but one I fell in love with. To them, beef was a treat.

“What are you thinking?” She asks, the pleasure clear in her voice.

“Something with guajillos, cumin, pepper, and potatoes. I’m not quite sure, but I will figure it out.”

“Include tortillas and your homemade salsa and you’ve got a bargain.”

“Done,” I grin.

“You’re lucky,” Cherí calls from the till, she must have overheard our banter. “I wish John could cook, maybe you will lend me Robin.”

“Not in this lifetime,” Chole replies.

The girls smile at one another.

I daydream of chunks of tender beef in a guajillo sauce and plan what I will put into it. We finish our coffees, say goodbye to Cherí, do a bit of shopping, then head home.

#

I pull the roast from the freezer and put it into the microwave to thaw. Chole slips her arms around me from behind and pulls me into her. I turn in her arms and lean over to kiss her. Her lips are warm and familiar, her tongue soft and insistent. We hug close.

“Love you,” I say.

“Mmm, me too,” she closes her arms around me and pulls me close once more before releasing me.

I put my hands on her face, run them over her cheeks and then into her hair, once coal-coloured, but now streaked with wisps of grey.

“What can I help you with?” She asks.

“Well,” I answer. “I have this erection you see...”

She laughs and slaps the hand headed for her breast.

“Dinner first, then we’ll see.”

That is as good as a promise. I have known this woman for thirty-five years.

#

I cut the roast into one-inch chunks while my beautiful wife, chops the onion, minces the garlic and dices the potatoes, I sauté the meat and put in the onion and garlic. I pull out the old coffee grinder, place guajillo chillies, pepper, cumin, salt, and other spices into it as they strike my fancy and grind them to a fine powder. I throw the works into the pot, then put on some decaf.

“I’m tired,” Chloe declares, “I think I will lie down before supper. Wake me when it’s ready.”

I run my fingers through her hair. “Of course love.” I kiss her cheek, then admire the sway of her hips as she heads for the bedroom. It makes me glad to be a man.

I decide to deep-fry some tortillas. I check in the fridge and there are beans Chloe made. There are always beans in our fridge, black are her favourite, but she will eat any kind of bean... well, she thinks canned pork and beans are loathsome.

I will serve tostadas topped with refried beans, my beef and potato mix, lots of minced lettuce, tomatoes, with green onions, and fresh hot sauce. Lack of salsa is grounds for divorce in my wife’s eyes.

We have a small, deepish, cast iron frying pan we use to fry tortillas for tostadas. It’s perfect for frying one tortilla at a time, which is the only way to fry them and keep them flat in the Mexican fashion. I turn on the burner and run to the bathroom while the oil heats.

While I’m on the toilet, the smoke alarm goes off. I struggle to pull up my jeans and in fact am not completely successful, but dire need drives me and I rush out the bathroom. I trip over my pants and land face down on the carpeted floor. I scramble up and abandon my pants and shorts where they lay. I imagine the oil has somehow caught fire but it is the coffeemaker that has burst into flames, which lick the underside of the cabinet above it.

Pantless, I jerk open the sink door and drag out the fire extinguisher, pull the clip, and aim it at the bottom of the coffee machine.

That fire is extinguished, but the upper cabinet now burns and the flames lap at the ceiling. God, I hope there is enough extinguishing agent left in the damn thing. I spray the face of the cabinet doors and I think I have put out the fire. I stand there holding the empty fire extinguisher, panting, my manhood flapping with each heave of my chest.

#

“What the hell are you doing and what happened?” A sleepy-eyed Chole says as she enters the kitchen and looks around. “And, where’s my camera when I need it?”

“The coffee machine,” I puff.

“I don’t think it’s safe to fight fires naked,” she says as she waves her hand in front of her face in the smoke-filled room.

“I’m not naked,” I grumble as I turn the hood fan on high, shut off the now smoking oil, and open a window.

“Next best thing.” She smirks. “We need to check inside the cupboard and make sure the fire is all out.” She digs a jug out of another cabinet and fills it with water.

“You’re very calm about this,” I say.

“It’s not unpleasant to find your husband naked in the kitchen,” she replies without cracking a smile. “It might be best if you get your pants on before you open the cabinet door, I wouldn’t want you to be burned down there, you wouldn’t be much use to me in bed,” she gives my naked butt a pat.

I hurry back down the hall and slip on my underwear and jeans. I realize I will need a ladder to properly inspect the cabinet and I rush into the garage for the one we keep there. I return with the ladder, place it to one side of the cabinet, and climb up to open the door. I give the door a soft tug and open it. It does not burst into flames, but there is smoke curling up. Chole hands me the jug of water and I pour it over the offending area.

#

The fire is out.

The kitchen is a mess.

Chole sighs.

“Well, the meat is cooked. Why don’t we just heat up some tortillas, and eat it with salsa. I don’t feel like making the tostadas like I planned.”

“Yeah,” Chole agrees, wiping her damp brow with the back of her hand.

We eat dinner and as always, Chole puts enough salsa on hers to spark another conflagration. Then we work on cleaning the kitchen and getting the smoke smell out of our bungalow.

“I don’t want to call the insurance company again,” Chole tells me. “Two fires in two years, our rates might go way up or they may drop us altogether. For the most part we will need a new countertop, replace that upper cabinet, then to paint, scrub and clean.”

“I think we can manage,” I agree.

#

She calls our oldest daughter. “Hi honey, how are you guys doing? You’ll never guess, your Dad tried to burn the house down again.”

#

We go to bed at ten and make long, slow, love. We spoon together afterwards.

“It was a fine morning and the day had a great ending, but the bits between were awful,” I breathe into her ear.

“Mmm,” she mumbles, then turns around to face me. We kiss, soft lips join, tongues embrace and twine together, we kiss a long time and then she turns around and tucks herself back into my body.

“This is cosy,” I whisper.

She cuddles closer. After a few minutes, I hear her breathing become soft and regular. My love is asleep. I soon drift off with her in my arms.

The smell of burnt plastic hovers in the air.

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