Copyright © Liza Rose. All rights reserved. Last Updated October 2019.
My first time at NYC Midnight Flash Fiction 2014. I had no idea what I had let myself in for!
Round 1: Group 9
The OpeningThe grand opening of ‘Arugula!’ is less than a week away. Peter is not quite ready and neither, it seems, are his staff. The dough was beautifully firm. Unfortunately, it was beautifully, firmly stuck to the ceiling. Peter looked incredulously at Eduardo. "What happened?" "I span it, I threw it… and it stuck." "What were you thinking?" "It's how they do it in the movies" "You are supposed to be a professional Pastry chef. You came highly recommended. Something about this picture is not making much sense right now." "Well, I was more of a pizza chef. But I did train as a Pastry chef" Peter shook his head. It was going to be a long week. Eduardo was the third Pastry chef he had tried to recruit for this position, and the interviews were slow going. He had decided to test out each candidate. Eduardo had, at first, seemed efficient. "Look we open on Monday, we have one week, I just asked you to make the bread dough." Eduardo looked crestfallen. "I was going for a toss" "Nice initiative, let’s stick to the basics for now" There was sudden movement above, and the dough fell. Peter had to laugh at where it landed. "Come on "Dough boy"! We need to clean up, it's choux time!" he said. Later, Peter sat to discuss the opening with Marie, his partner and sous-chef as he regaled the incident. "He was engulfed!" "You should have taken a photo." she said, "This place needs some decorations" "Like famous people who ate here or something?" "Like staff looking happy" "Hey good idea, maybe we can do baby photos too or something, an opening day competition, guess who and win a pizza" "OK don’t be tetchy, I meant some nice professional shots of the staff, but you could do famous people if you prefer. But you know, the idea of opening day and photos sounds good. We could do some shots for the opening, get a professional in, see if we can get some well-known faces and kill two birds with one stone. The photographer did not inspire confidence, the mop of bright orange hair clashed with the deep claret of the wall panels, and Michelle could not see past it. "So, you are a friend of Peter’s then?" "Yah" "Known him long?" "Yah" "Well, if you need me for anything I’m just through in the kitchens" "Yah". With that dismissal, Michelle left and the photographer turned back to his equipment and began fussing with the large flood lights. Michelle was excited. The opening they had been planning for months was tomorrow and they were almost ready. She passed through the double doors into the kitchen, slipped on a pea and slid three feet into the fish chef. Unfortunately, the fish chef was carrying a tray of sole fillets at the time. Not for long, though. Luckily the fillets were frozen, although they slithered in every direction. But it did mean Michelle would need a special delivery or the opening night special of Brown Butter Sole with Mushroom Stuffing would just be mushrooms. Peter rubbed his forehead. His hairline, already receding, had rubbed thinner over the last few weeks. He was running through the list of guests. Prominent politicians, local celebrities and well known business people had all agreed to attend the opening. The menus were printed. He was a little worried now, given the sole situation. A last minute change before opening would mean a costly reprint. ‘Arugula!’ had sucked him dry and a problem now could mean financial disaster. Michelle entered the office and sank into a chair. “Done!” Peter gave her a tired smile. “So long as nothing else goes wrong…” he said. “Don’t even go there. It’s going to go like a dream.” “That’s what I like about you, confidence. You’re right. We’re so close. What could possibly go wrong?!?” Peter got up and went through to the kitchens for a last check. Michelle sighed, stood back up and trailed behind him. The team was bustling about, checking out their stations and making sure that all was well. “Hey Doughy!” he called to Eduardo. Just like the bread dough, the name had stuck. It suited him. Peter could see that the team was starting to gel. Heated exchanges could be heard and there was a sense of anticipation. “Hey boss! This fishy guy is unhappy with the pastry.” Eduardo was looking peeved. “Doughy, I already told you, I need pastry, not rock cakes!”. The fish chef did not look happy either. Peter smiled inwardly. This was actually going well. A grumpy kitchen made for a great dining experience. “Hey Peter, about the name…” the photographer yelled through the kitchen doors. “Hey Roy! What about it?” “Yah, I thought you were going with Arugula!? Like the lettuce?” “That’s right, why do you ask?” “You should maybe come and see for yourself.” Peter frowned at Michelle, shrugged and followed Roy. He went through the bar area, nodding to the sommelier who was cross checking the wine list. Roy disappeared out of the front door. Peter hesitated, fearing the worst, and then quickly stepped into the bright sunshine. The sign writers were installing the name on the fascia board. Claret lettering on a gold and rust background. Peter gaped. The sign, in all its glory, read AWOOGA! Roy came up behind him and looked over his shoulder. “Well that’s one for the photo album!”