Scene at Babby’s with TV Production
“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 café in case there was any
shooting or strong language. She did however ask 5 regulars to stay both
to discourage gunplay 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
Though Babby had not seen the show “Kitchen Inquisition,” she
heard about it; the dickhead who came into restaurants (and cafés)
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 café 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 to 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 flies best? A nearby berry patch or a nearby berry patch
with a nearby bear?“ That was the Network’s take on evolution and media
As Charlton entered the café, 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 café, 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 an 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 shelvings were 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 in 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 clipboard, 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 clipboard and its scattered
paperwork. 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
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