Breakfast Special, #26, “Fishing Lines and Irish Lace”

Fishing Lines and Irish Lace

Anton set aside his book and waited while Sarge adjusted the racks and closed the oven door on the two baking pans of banana bread he’d arrived with a few minutes ago.  He and Esther had already placed new bets with Mr. Ranoli on how long, how many ovens and how far along the street the bread baking spree, now in the middle of its third day of spilling out of Lily’s apartment might extend. Whenever Sarge wasn’t out clearing snow off rooftops with Anton and the rest of the Watch snow crew, he and Lily went to town mixing up breads then farming them out for baking in any available empty oven someone was willing to open for them. According to Ricardo, Rosa had skewed the betting odds of when all this bread making action would have to end due to a lack of ingredient resources by giving the pair free and easy access to her flour reserves stored in one of the large freezers in the front room. And she wasn’t the only one funneling baking supplies into Lily’s kitchen. The first batch of loaves had tasted pretty good and the second batch better. Now anyone who had an odd bag of yeast on a cabinet shelf or nuts, fruit, flour, sugar, anything else suitable for tossing into a mixing bowl was dropping it off and volunteering their oven.

Sarge set the stove’s oven timer, then grinned at Anton. “All set. Now what did you want to ask me?”

“I see you got a serious game plan going with the loaves. I don’t want to mess it. But, hey, how about you take a load off for a few tic tocs?”

“No problem. The game plan is in no rush, Anton.” Sarge sat down at the kitchen table hoping to set the clearly nervous Anton at ease. “You’re looking a little tight, Anton.  What’s winding you up?”

Anton listened to the voices in the hallway for a time then leaned towards Sarge and lowered his voice.  “Here’s what I’m stressing. Got a call back from this place in M-  where I dropped an app for a place on their kitchen line a while back. Main Cook Man says if I’m still fishing for a place on a line, to come round soon as the road open again. No sweat when, cuz he know the score in Falls. Just fill him in when feet can travel. That’s all sweet as far as I can read.”

“Sounds good so far. So what’s got you stressed?”

“It lay like this, Sarge. I worked a lot of kitchens in my time. But I never worked any kitchen line this high up before. Main Cook Man say he call me back cuz that boxed cod I plated up for him was best he ever put a fork to. I made it taste like fresh wild caught. See, I got my ways with the swimmers. I did this job pitch cause the funds so damn sweet. Cover travel and everything and still plenty cash to stash. No more need for Esther to do two part-times.  Hours reg too. Big sweet that. Most times I catch a job line in a place with folks I know. But not this place. I got no intel to fill me in. No eyes, no ears. No one ever done  more than hit the bar in this place for a treat. Now, I don’t mean no offence here, I just reading the book as it is. But, you being you, with roots in M-, maybe you know this place some. You read?”

“I get it. No offence taken. You want to know what you’re walking into up front.”

Anton relaxed and nodded vigorously. “Exactly.”

“Okay. What’s the name of this place?”

“Irish Lace on Lincoln Street. Sweet dining area up front.  Major kick-ass bar. Some tables in back. Live piano nights.”

Sarge nodded. “I know the place.” He looked at Anton. “You want it straight up, right?”

“Oh yeah, Big Man. Lay it on me.”

“Up front, I hope you know me well enough by now to know I mean no offence. Like you said, I’m just reading the book as it is. I’m trying to make sure I don’t put your back up. I like you, Anton. I don’t want any trouble for giving you what you’ve asked for.  You read me?

“I do. No blowback coming for sharing intel best can do. ”

“Good.” Sarge brushed some flour out of his hair then did his own check of the people in the hallway. Satisfied that they still had some privacy for their conversation but wishing for more, he gestured for Anton to lean in closer to him.  “If you’re working the kitchen, then stay in the kitchen. Not because you’re black.  Just because the kitchen is Mack’s turf.  He rules his turf. Kitchen staff are his people. If you were working the bar, you’d stay at the bar. That’s Charlies’s turf. He rules his turf. Bartenders are his people. Same goes for the tables and Tony. Everyone runs their own turf.  Unless you’re told to visit the bar to help out, you stay away from the bar. Otherwise you run the risk of setting off a turf war between three guys who have trouble implementing the concept of mutually beneficial peaceful coexistence.  Good so far?”

“I read. The dudes got territory issues. Go on.”

“Yeah, that’s one way to put it.” Sarge hesitated then dove in again.  “Here’s what I don’t know how to say any way that will sound nice and polite. So focus on the message not how it’s packaged. Intentions are all good on my part.  Okay?”

“We’re good. Let it flow.”

“All right then. The first time we met, Lily asked you to tell me all about the news for your speech practice. When you did that, you didn’t use any slang or your usual lingo. At Irish Lace,  it would be in your best interests to try to talk like that as much as possible while working. If they can’t understand you when the kitchen gets slammed, it’s going to piss them off. You don’t want that kind of trouble. I’m not kidding. Mack gets pissed and the knives start flying. He doesn’t like anything messing up his lines. ”

“I read. Talk their talk. Walk their walk. Anything else?”

“You don’t have turn yourself inside out for these guys.  They don’t expect that.  It’s just a matter of effective communication that’s all. Mack offered you the shot because he likes your cooking. With him and the people he takes on it’s all about the cooking. All they care about is what you do in that kitchen. You play nice with them and they will play nice with you.”

Anton laughed a little.  “Hell, you make it sound like a damn kids’ sandbox.”

“Yeah, well that’s pretty much what it is when you get down to it, Anton.” Sarge looked down at his hands for a few moments. “Now this is an entirely other matter you need to be aware of especially if you and Mack decide to commit to a long-term relationship. If there’s ever a fight when you’re working, do not under any circumstances get involved. Do not try to intervene. Do not make a play for a piece of the action. No matter what is going down or who you see fighting, stay the hell out of it. Do not call the cops. Keep your head down and out of the line of fire. Do whatever Mack tells you to do.  He watches out for his people. You follow his creed to the letter if there’s a fight. Have I made myself clear, Anton?”

“Oh yeah, Big Man. Oh yeah. No problem. I got no interest in kicking sand at anyone else.  Got plenty of intervention action right here in the Flats to suit me.  More than I care for. Ain’t about to tangle with others’ issues. Anything else?”

Sarge thought for a moment then said, “Oh yeah. Sarah, the owner, she’s a handsy type, but she doesn’t mean anything by it. She just touches everything and everyone. If you watch her with the customers you’ll see her do it non-stop. She can’t stop herself.  I think it’s some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder. You probably noticed that Mack has a lot of fly-swatters in the kitchen. They’re not there for swatting flies. They’re there to keep Sarah’s hands off the food.  I’m not joking. When I said she touches everything I meant it.  When Sarah reaches for the food you’re working with, you whack her hand just like everyone else does.  Don’t hold back. She won’t hold it against you. She knows she’s got a problem.”

Thinking Sarge really was yanking his chain, Anton grinned. “Don’t hold back with the fly swatter. I can do that. Thanks, Sarge.”

Sarge stood up. “No problem.  Good luck with Mack. You keep his lines sweet, he’ll treat you right. One more thing, Mack doesn’t care if you’re black or white or green. Keep that in mind if he gives you some flack when he gets stressed. He’s got a limited vocabulary. Now, I’ve got some dough to pound down. I’ll wander back in to check the bread around ring time.  If you think of anything else you want to know about Irish Lace just ask.”

“Will not hesitate. Hey, you got a compulsive disorder with all this bread you and Lily been making?”



Breakfast Special #27


  1. penpusherpen said,

    January 19, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    ah, shark bait, and sharp teeth, just listening to Bobby Darin, Eva, swinging away here on my PC chair, oh Yeah!! Mack, he’s back in town!! Right, sitting up straight and smelling t’bread. Don’t hold back with the sly swatter? Sounds like fun acoming. 🙂 bye for now, ‘n’ sweet Sunday wishes to you. xPenx

    • penpusherpen said,

      January 19, 2014 at 12:32 pm

      erm, sly swatter? Slip of the fingers on t’keyboard methinks, or mayhap I should take more water? 😉 xx

      • January 27, 2014 at 7:15 pm

        O!! O!! I know you won’t believe me, but I TRULY did not have that particular meaning in mind at the the time of writing. LOL. OOps–.

  2. Jenell said,

    September 23, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    I have some catching up to do great stuff wish I knew how to bake bread

  3. September 14, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Like Leslie…I’m enjoying the creativity happening between the story and music selections.

    • September 16, 2013 at 4:11 am

      Well, if you ever have a music selection to suggest please please share it! I would love to know what resonates with others.

  4. lesliepaints said,

    September 9, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Sounds like good advice for anyone starting work anywhere, Eva. Enjoying the story and now the musical additions!!!!! This is fun.

  5. September 7, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Banana bread!! You’ll be pleased to know that was all I needed to take a break and put some together and get it baking before I returned to reading the rest of this.

    • September 8, 2013 at 8:09 pm

      LOL- Fiction produces real time bread! What more could any writer ask of? Thank you! I wonder if anyone else is baking bread now?

  6. cindy knoke said,

    September 6, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Love it!

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