Breakfast Special, #21, “Taste Buds”

Taste Buds

While Anton put the finishing touches on their evening meal, Esther light the half burned dark blue pillar candle’s wick. She moved it to one side of the old kitchen table she’d dressed up with an orange cloth shot through streaks of green and gold. When Anton nodded that the food was ready to serve, she flipped off the light switch before eagerly taking her seat. Candlelight softened the harsh starkness of white-painted walls, worn wooden floor and cabinets with generous shadows while creating a warm inviting circle at the table for the couple.

Delicately sniffing the plate of fish and potatoes Anton handed to her, Esther smiled with anticipation of taste bud glee. “Hmm, you sure got the magic touch with fish, my man. This is the right time for reminders that summer will come again, and fishing with it.” She set her plate down on the table and waited for him to get settled down with his cloth napkin in place, before taking a bite of the fillet prepared and presented as if it had come straight from a five-star restaurant.

“Summer can’t come too soon in my book, sweet Esther. Snow lockdown stretching my nerves real tight  having the Watch on red alert night after night.”  Anton tasted his handiwork and sighed with satisfaction.

“Snow lockdown is putting everyone’s nerves to the stretch test, Anton. It doesn’t help matters none knowing that if anything truly serious goes down we will probably have to deal with ourselves. Right now I’m damn grateful JJ was off duty and home here in the Flats instead of at St. Syms working when the snow slam arrived. Between her and Doc Tran just about everybody who needs some med attention in the Flats is covered. Mmmm, these potatoes are right on par with the fillet, Anton. Delicious. Just what Esther needed tonight.”

“Tran is definitely the Man for steppin’ up and coming out of the woodwork like he done ever since last summer’s heat fiascos. Anton be giving thanks for him and Nurse JJ right here with you, Esther. Those two be like mana from heaven.” He toasted them with a click of his water-glass against Esther’s with smiles of agreement. “Love the fillet, cause that’s the last of the trout Little George brought back from his trip up north.”

Esther teased him. “Don’t look so down about the trout, Anton. There’s still a box of cod in the basement freezer you can play with.”

“True. But they ain’t as sweet as fresh caught swimmers. Farmed fish don’t hold no light next to wild caught.”

“You a bona fide fish snob, you know that, Anton?” Esther laughed when Anton nodded his head in agreement as he ate. “So, are you going to finish what you were telling me when we were closing up shop earlier and got interrupted?”

“Maybe. Maybe not. What you gonna trade for my intel? Hmm?”  He eyed her trout fillet as she playfully moved her plate a little further out of his reach. “I’m guessin’ not your swimmer. You got anything to trade, hmm, Esther?”

“Oh I got something to trade, but not saying what until I know what I’m gettin’ first.”

“I read you, sweet Esther. I read you. Anton, deliver the goods. Sarge ain’t hitched. No fears on that score. Yeah, I read that make your night right there.” He smiled when Esther heaved a sigh of relief. “Mine too. He drop no dime about that little book. That don’t mean it ain’t what Lily think it be. But don’t mean it be either. Big Man ain’t been heart burned. But.” Laying aside his fork, Anton put his elbows on the table and locked his fingers together as he spoke. “This I got no good read on just yet. But, something ain’t quite level. Now that’s my bones talking.”

“Not level about what, Anton?” Fork stopping midway to her mouth, Esther slumped back in her chair and stared hard at her husband. “Tell me he’s not gay.”

Anton laughed. “No fear that, Esther. Damn, you should look in the mirror. Your face when you said that, seriously funny as all hell.”

Esther did not laugh, smile or eat the morsel of fish on her fork. “You sure,  Anton?  You know damn well some men hide that real hard for all kinds of reasons. Could be why he not crying for some sweets from Lily’s store.”

“I’m sure. Big Man ain’t hidin’ in no closet. Can’t be in a closet and look at Lily like he do.  Can’t happen.” He shook his head, took a long drink of water and leaned back in his chair totally relaxed as he spoke. “It more like some men, they got to brag about all the honey they get. You know what I mean.”

Finally eating the fish on her fork, Esther nodded then replied. “Usually cause they ain’t getting as much as their ego wants others to think they’re getting.”

“Main true that, Esther. Main true.  Sarge don’t brag.  The man don’t dish no woman. Man don’t cry no woman. Man don’t smile no woman. We all working our jaws while doin’ Lady Stephanie’s windows. She goes off visitin’ with Mrs. Cho.  How those two talk, I do not know. Anyway, so it was just us men in her place: Little George, Antonio, Big Man, Ricardo, Percy Two from up the block, me plus a few young ones more. Percy Two starts reading his woman creed. Rest of us read some too. Big Man shakes his head. Man laughs some. But he don’t read any woman creed. Nada. How you read that?”

Esther thought this over before answering. “Maybe he don’t know you all well enough to feel comfy to read it.”

“Nawww. I don’t think it that, Esther.” Anton waved his hand as if clearing the idea from the space between them. After a few quiet moments he came forward to the table and leaned his elbows on it again. “He share intel when I ask him direct. No problem there. But it don’t quite jibe with what me, you and every other body been seein’ and hearing.  That’s what my bones whispering about. They’re just too quiet for me to read clear yet.” He rubbed his chin. “I could ask him direct about Lily, but hell, what for?  All she got to do is walk through his radar range and that answer all over his face.”

“Mm, yep. JJ caught that right off too. That’s what got her asking me if Lily even had a clue how she stirring that man up.” Pulling the extra table chair closer, Esther put up her feet and put her plate in her lap to finish eating.

“Comin’ from JJ, that’s sort of funny considering she clueless herself when it comes to Antonio. To be fair though, Antonio does take serious evasive action and hides it damn well. Sarge though, either he don’t know or he don’t care what you can read on his face any time. Not sure which it be yet.”

“Let me know when you decide which—and why. I  been chatting about that with Rosa. We both are sitting on that fence right along with you. Not so funny thing is, Lily don’t seem to know how Sarge be stirring her up. It’s sure not obvious when she’s all on point about whatever needs doing. But get her off task and it’s damn clear she’s not thinking of him as just some friendly gentleman lodger for the duration of this snow lockdown. Ohhh no.  Lily is no easy read as we both know. Never sure what home people intel clue you’re missing unless you ask direct.”

“Are you sayin’ she taking more than the usual degree of woman checking out man interest, Esther? Or what?”

“’Or what’ is definitely how I’m readin’ Lily. Rosa and I know she’s not looking at Sarge like we do. Definitely not in what you mean by the usual degree of interest. My guess is she looking at him her home people way.”

“If that be so, what that mean she thinking when it come down to it, Esther?”

“Don’t know. It never came up with any guy she ever hooked up before with while living in the Flats. She sure don’t talk about him like she ever done other guys. That’s one clue. Another clue is that when she’s not busy with something, she got her eye on him kind of sly on the side like. She hiding that action real good just like Antonio hides his heartbeat from JJ. For sure she’s collecting intel like none other. But what sort, beats the hell out of me and Rosa.” She laid her plate on the table and leaned over it towards Anton. “Heck, what kind of info Lily need beside the facts that the man be damn easy-going, he fine-looking but don’t make anything of it, he sure got nothing against working hard with his hands or head, and he’s already seriously down for the count regarding herself? What else could she possibly be on the look-out for? Hmm, Anton?”

Her husband mused for a time and shrugged. “Maybe Lily is wondering if Sarge might be any good at hunting caribou or some such thing. Anton knows that don’t make much sense here in Falls, but if she looking at him her home people way, maybe that sort of thing means something to her no matter where she be.”

“Could be. Lily sure does have a hard-core practical survival bent to her mind work.” They both considered this for a time in silence. “Another thing, she wasn’t upset about Sarge not making any candy action plays. That wasn’t why she brought it up when we were having a little tea break with Rosa. It was more along the lines of her asking us, ‘Why is this man not behaving like the others and constantly whining for sex? He’s one of yours, so explain this to me, please.’ But like I said, she wasn’t mad about it. It was more like she was just trying to figure out the why of it considering her past experiences.”

“Now you put it that way, Esther, she probably is working her mind about Sarge her home people way. She knows what that means in her world, but she not so sure what it mean here. Problem be, right now, we don’t know either when it comes to Big Man. Makes it tough to help either get next to the other.”

Esther leaned back against her chair and stared at her glass of water for a time. “Another thing, only reason some women hereabouts been keeping their interest in Sarge mainly to themselves is because of Lily. If he weren’t staying right smack dab in her pad every night, I have no doubt at least three ladies would have made some plays of their own by now. I don’t see any reason why that would be different outside the Flats. Maybe that’s what’s going on with Big Man. Anton, you ever know a man to get too much honey? Eat too many sweets?”

“No man ever get too much honey, Esther. Never happen.” Anton looked up from his plate at the same time Esther looked at him. “But a man might get too much honey with a taste he don’t care much for.” He considered what Sarge had told him about his lack of luck with women in a certain direction. “Man might eat too many sweets that don’t agree with him at all. Then he stop eating cuz he hurt too much. Man might be wanting more than just dessert. Man could be holding out for a full meal deal.” He tapped his fingertips gently on the table. “Sarge asked me direct how you and me hooked up. Maybe that’s it. He not just down for the count with a heartbeat. He be wanting a whole lot more than some candy from Lily’s store. Maybe he  be wanting the whole store.”

“I think you just read your bones right. Don’t ask me why. But I think so.” Esther closed her eyes for a time. “Could be Lily has gotten wind of that. Maybe she is on the same page as Sarge, but she got to work on it her home people way or it won’t quite fly right in her mind.”

“I read that, sweet Esther. That makes some sense with what intel we got so far.” He pointed with his fork at Esther’s plate. “You saving that touch of trout back to keep room for dessert, sweet Esther? Hmm? Anton got room for both if you don’t.”

Batting her eyelashes at him, Esther speared a bite of trout on her fork, then reached across the table’s candlelight and offered it to him. “Oh Esther has plenty of room for whatever dessert surprise you whipped up, Anton.  This just a token of appreciation for tonight’s meal, my man.”

“Is that so? Mmm.  Anton can hardly wait until you taste dessert. Hmmm. Esther.”



Breakfast Special #22



  1. Jenell said,

    August 17, 2013 at 4:42 am

  2. August 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    I think Sarge could pass Lily’s “caribou test”.

  3. lesliepaints said,

    August 17, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    The dialect switches are great! I really have to slow down to capture the feel of Anton.
    The name choices for everyone really fits. They support the characters very well. I’m not a writer but these are some of the things I long for in a good read. This is a good read.

    • August 17, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      Oh Leslie, thank you so much for your feedback about the dialect and speech patterns! Part of this work deals the diversity of the people in the Flats as a sort of microcosm of the world at large. And I know that what I’ve observed and experienced via contact with people in my area may not be the same elsewhere due to regional differences. So it helps to know it’s working at your end too.
      Am very glad these things are working for you as a reader!
      Also good to hear that you slow down but don’t stop reading because of Anton, especially when he’s relaxed and being himself the most–as with Esther–as opposed to when he’s working on ‘being correct with his English’.
      One of these days we need to have a real “picnic”–LOL.

  4. August 23, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Ha haa excellent dialog between Anton and Esther. What and/or where are the flats? I have far more assumptions than solid ground to stand on here! I suspect the author to be as cagey as Lily in full “home people way”… and smiling impish right now.
    A good read. I ride on. Curiosity is a tireless mount.
    (Light in place of lit?)

    • August 23, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      Curiosity is great!
      Now, if you miss the links I’ve left, find the “search” box to the left of the screen and enter “Breakfast Special”– then work your way backwards to earliest entries. IF you want to know how this all began that is.

      Lily is Lily.
      The author is the author.
      As for the author’s alter ego-s–well, that’s for the author to ‘know’. LOL.

  5. penpusherpen said,

    January 12, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Ho Hum, I’ll leave Anton and Esther to their sweet dessert, Eva, your writing is so believable you just lose yourself in the story. I shall ‘desert’ you now, to complete my casserole preparation, then once it’s on it’s way, slowly cooking I shall return to sample more of your Breakfast Special, for it certainly become a specialty on my menu. xx

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