Scene at Babby's with TV Production

                              'Kitchen Inquisition'

Chapter 36

            “I am not looking forward to this BillyRay, not one bit.” Babby sat upon 

    her throne, toying with her coffee mug and conversing with BillyRay through

    the service window. She just stared forward, not at Ray, not at her undercover

    mirror, not at anything.

             Knowing the T.V. pestilence would be coming in at 9:00, the last 

     ticket went to the kitchen at 8:15 so to empty the cafe' in case there was any

     shooting or strong language. She did however ask 5 regulars to stay both 

     to discourage gun play and to just make the place look lived in. She promised

     them a week of breakfast on the house and that was plenty enough. 

            There was first, foremost and largest, Gem Fulton. There was Roscoe

     Purkapile, Minerva Jones, Hortense Robbins and Dillard Sissman. 

     Additionally there was BillyRay, the waitresses Joanne and Angelina(back 

     from maternity part-time) and Margarito, the very great porter.

           The feature of the cooking show about to invade was Charlton Delton,

     Australian by birth but an asshole in any land. He was broad across, stocky 

     and thick with a blondish mop and bangs confessing hints of gray.

     His face was ruddy, even a bit swollen. Not from too much sun or boxing 

     but from a life of drinking and smoking at the bar and, being grilled by the

      grills on which he flipped chops and sometimes, burgers.

           No one liked him. His own dog did not like him. He did not speak, he

       yelled. Drill sergeant in the kitchen maybe but everywhere else was just

       tiresome.

            Though Babby had not seen the show, “Kitchen Inquisition” she 

       heard about it and the dickhead who came into restaurants (and cafes)

       yelling and bullying and telling all in earshot how stupid and lazy and

       ambivalent they were whether the operation was successful or not

       or if it adhered to code.

            Babby discussed how this would play out with Celia and Mary&Lou

      and Miles as well as with the cafe staff and so she resolved that stupid, lazy

      and ambivalent would bring the ordeal to a swift conclusion.

            For a tech crew, being assigned to work with Charlton was like winning 

       a lottery to be stoned to death. Fortunately, they did not need not speak to him

       because senior director Leland sent a small junior director named Beth to 

       act as a liaison for Charlton and civil humanity. “Whatever they're paying her,

       it ain't enough”.

             The Network had figured out that genial, maternal, humble and 

       humorous Julia Child was out and pompous, offensive bad news Charlton 

       was in, Charlton  was the ticket.      

             “What news flys best?; a nearby berry patch or a nearby berry patch

      with a nearby bear? “ That was the Network's take on evolution and media

      culture.

              As Charlton entered the cafe, the bell above the door went ding-a-ling,

      the only song it knew and this chef from hell rolled his eyes.

              “Bloody outback provincials – is there even a show here?”

              “ Are you in charge here?” glaring at Babby. Charlton knew enough to

        know who was in authority.

              “ Yes Sir, I'm Babby Hopperyn, this is my cafe and you are welcome.”

              “ Bloody great, are you guys ready to shoot?” Charlton barked in Beth's

       direction. Safely behind her clipboard, Beth assured they were ready.

              “ Well let's proceed then, the regulars will need to feed in a couple of

       hours and I would rather NOT witness that spectacle.” Gem considered the 

      space between himself and Charlton. 

              Now to the camera, “The heart and brain of all food operations large

       and small is the walk-in refrigerator. All the problems start there.”

              BillyRay jumped from imminent collision when Charlton charged for 

      the box. With a hand on the door handle, Charlton looked at the little

      thermometer by the light switch. It read 35 degrees.  “Hrumph!” He was

      hoping for a violation before he opened the door.

             The box was immaculate. All lower shelving was high enough from the

     ground to allow for a broom or a mop. Those lower shelves stored eggs, meat

      and fish in bus tubs. The fish was elevated on grates and covered in peach

     paper and then crushed ice. Prepared sauces, condiments, soups and stocks

      were in sealed plastic vessels – labeled and dated. No dairy was out of date. 

     Cheese was tightly wrapped. No two jars of the same product were open and 

     no opened cans of anything.

            On the floor in the corners were either snap traps or glue traps. Any of

      them could have been returned as new to the hardware store. The two lights 

      in the box were visored and caged. On his way out of the box, Charlton was

      heard to mutter, “Hrumph.”

             “Sometimes I am asked, what is the dirtiest lil' secret place in a kitchen?

       Here is the answer to that.” He strode over to the utensils, hanging from 

      hooks. He grabbed a medium whisk and picked up a knife from a counter.

      He used the back of the knife to pry open the cap on the cylinder that is

      the handle of a whisk. He popped it off and rudely stuck his finger it, 

      moved it around in there and then showed it to the camera. “There !!” 

      Nothing, he smelled the offending finger. “Blimey.”

             At the service counter, plates and bowls were stacked facing down.

      Surfaces were clean, faucets didn't leak and garbage didn't stink.

           “Had a busy morning now didja mate?” Charlton's accusatory snarl was

      sotto voce as he tried taking BillyRay down a peg. Next season's re-sign was

      depending on this foray into the American outback to be, well, bloody bloody.

           “No sir, just breakfast, one day much like another.” Beth and the audio

       guy were enchanted by BillyRay's measured baritone. Babby measured the

       space between herself and her leetle frien'.

             Charlton grabbed a coffee mug, (unaware of his proximity to you know

        who) banged it down on the counter grabbing a coffee carafe with the other

        hand. He poured one finger of coffee and spun it in circles hoping to find                

        grounds. Finding none he drank it. Then he filled his cup. “Good coffee

        though, hrumph” Beth dropped her clip board as Charlton had never said

        anything positive before. She considered if the Network would want this 

        left on the cutting room floor?

            Gem Fulton was right there to retrieve the clip board and its scattered 

       paper work. Beth said “Thank you” and then their eyes met because Gem 

       was on his knees. 

             “Aw'right !! As breakfast is a big deal around here, I shall now

      demonstrate the proper preparation and presentation of what you call,

      scrambled eggs.”

              He put a slice of white bread in the toaster and put it down. He put an 

      8 inch saute on a low flame until just warm and into that a bit of butter to

       melt. He beat two eggs with a pinch of salt and a turn of black pepper from 

      a mill though objecting to this as it should have been white pepper and 

      poured this into the warm buttered pan. The toast popped up and he put that 

      into a shallow salad bowl and started moving the eggs with a rubber spatula. 

              After a minute or so on a low flame the eggs started to solidify – just a 

      little curdly lumpy, nothing more.

             “Awright” Charlton announced and poured the goopy liquid eggs on

       to the defenseless toast.

              Those present for this atrocity were stupefied. Hurl on toast. Angelina

       leaned over and barfed in the garbage can. “Just fucking great.” thought

       Babby, “Is she pregnant again? Already? I gotta get them a T.V. for the

      bedroom!”. Then Joanne yacked in the garbage can.

             “Just fuckin' great,” thought BillyRay and Charlton,“now the garbage

         stinks.”

  "Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."