Archive for November, 2012

(Some time has passed, so here’s another big chunk in the story.  Anybody new to this site, please go into the Archives and click on the July 16th posing, They Had the Right to Remain Silent (1) to begin this crime novel work in progress.  For those up to speed, let’s finish cooking.  Thanks for dropping by.)
They Had the Right to Remain Silent
Richard S. Jachimecki
Chapter ( xxxviii ) continues…
     Terrance opened the packages of ham and swiss cheese, picked up his beer and took a long swig, smacking his lips as he set the bottle down on the counter.
      “Here’s the sequence-” he said, “we take a piece of chicken, and top it with a slice of each.” He took a flattened breast from the stack, then placed the ham and the swiss slices on its center to demonstrate. “Then we roll it up, and Parker, you put a toothpick through each end and one in the middle, to hold it together.” He took one end of the chicken then rolled the slab around itself and the inner slices tightly, holding it in place. Parker began to insert each toothpick as if he were performing major surgery.
      “Don’t need to be fancy, Park,” Terrance chuckled, “we want to eat this while we’re still young.”
      Toothpicks in place, Terrance picked up a two- tined carving fork. He took one of the platters on the countertop and placed it next to the bowl of flour. He stuck the fork into the chicken roll, then placed the piece into the bowl holding eggs and milk. “Just swish it like this until it’s covered, hold it up and let the excess drip off.” He moved to the last step, “Finally, put it in the flour, take the spoon and sprinkle it over the top. And, like so,” Terrance said. He took the coated piece and placed it on the platter, then held it down with his index finger, and pulled out the fork, “you are done. Think you got the idea, gents?”
      Parker gave the ‘thumbs up’, Becker took a long swallow of the Grey Goose. “Will do,” he said.
      “Then have at it,” Terrance said and crossed to the stove, poured the canola oil into the skillet about a half- inch deep, then turned the gas jet below it to high flame.
      Becker and Parker were laughing, fumbling along with what Terrance had made look so simple. Occasionally they would get sidetracked by the commentator on the TV describing the action of the game, and would pause to watch an instant replay. Terrance took the flour bag back to the pantry and returned with a sack of Tostitos, tossing them onto the counter under the microwave. He went to the fridge and removed a package of shredded, Mexican- blend cheeses and a large bottle of salsa, then opened an upper cabinet door and took out four plates and four small bowls. All these were placed with the chips. Parker watched his father through the corner of his eye, while he worked with Becker. He liked visitors at the house. Snacks that were usually off- limits became fair game when his parents entertained.
      Terrance pulled a long set of tongs from the caddy and began to set the completed chicken rolls into the skillet. Each piece sizzled as it made contact with the hot oil, and the smell reminded Terrance of weekend visits home, back from college, and family dinners his mother prepared.
      He flipped the rolls in the liquid, their bottom portions now golden brown and crispy. He went and pulled off another long stretch of paper towel and folded it in half twice, then laid it down on the counter, in the space between the cookie sheet and the skillet. He took the prepped pieces out and transferred them to the paper towel to wick off the oil. They were replaced with new rolls from the assembly line; both Becker and Parker nursed their drinks, eyes glued to the ballgame, their task completed.
      “All right, fellas,” Terrance broke in, “let’s get this stuff rinsed off and in the dishwasher.” They emptied the bowls into the trash, and brought everything over to the sink. “Park, you rinse, Mase you load.”
      Becker flipped the washer door downward, “any special way you want these put in here?” he said.
      “Fill it as much as you can,” Terrance answered, Lana’s gonna rearrange them anyway.”
      Parker sprayed each article with the rinse hose and handed them to Becker. Terrance finished frying the remainder of the chicken and placed them on the paper towel, then shut off the burner. He ignited the gas jet below the double- boiler, which already contained water, to a medium flame, then set the upper oven’s temperature to 350 degrees to preheat. Ripping a sheet of aluminum foil from its roll, Terrance lined the cookie pan with it. He distributed the chicken evenly onto the sheet and discarded the oil- soaked paper towel.
      Parker and Becker had wrapped up. Becker wiped down the island countertop with a dishrag. The oven’s chime sounded and Terrance opened the door and placed the pan of chicken on the middle rack. He checked the clock hanging over the refrigerator, figuring in about twenty- five minutes to bake.
      “Time for a little food before the food,” Terrance said, producing a smile from Parker and a look of confusion from Becker, “Park, separate those plates and pour out the chips. Mase, salsa goes into each bowl, if you please.”
      Terrance crossed to the fridge and took out three more eggs, two sticks of butter, a small plastic bottle that Becker noticed looked like a lemon, and a bundle of asparagus in water held by a plastic quart soup container recycled from a previous Chinese take- out order. And another Miller.  He set the items on the island, picked up the beer and twisted the bottle cap off, then drained half its contents in one gulp. The game caught his attention as the quarterback slung a long pass for a touchdown across the small screen.
      “Mase, sprinkle the cheese on the chips and nuke each plate for a minute.”
      “Way ahead of you,” Becker said, placing the first plate of chips and cheese into the microwave, “this kind of cooking I’m familiar with.”
      Terrance opened a cabinet in the island and pulled out a nine- by- nine inch, shallow Pyrex dish and set it on the counter, near the asparagus. The microwave beeped.
      “Son, take the nachos and dip into your mother, please.”
      Becker handed Parker the plate, who watched the small cheese bubbles popping. He picked up a bowl of salsa and headed for the door. Hands full, Parker turned around, then backed up, to swing the door open.
      “You’ve got a good kid there,” Becker said.
      “Thanks,” Terrance said, then finished his beer and tossed the bottle into the bin, “I think we’ll keep him.”
      “He looks a lot like his mother.”
      “Got lucky on that count.”
      Parker reentered.
      “Hey bud, grab yourself a plate and go watch the game on the big screen,” Terrance said, “thanks for your help. Couldn’t have done it without you.”
      Parker took the chips and salsa, then headed back to the door before his father changed his mind.
      “You ever think about settling down?”
      Becker picked up the vodka and drank.
      “Right woman hasn’t come along yet?”
      Becker swirled the glass and watched the ice float counterclockwise in the liquor.
      “Maybe I should shut up.”
      “I did have someone…once. She was taken from me.”
      “Taken?”
      “AND THAT’S THE END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, WITH DETROIT STILL AHEAD OF SAINT LOUIS, SEVENTEEN TO THIRTEEN”
      Becker finished his drink.
      “Mase, you’re the best cop on our squad,” Terrance said, “best cop I ever met. But I really know nothing about you. And the last couple of days…”
      “Some things are best left buried.”
      “Sorry to open up an old wound, man. You know I’ve got your back. Just know I can listen, too. Anytime.”
     “Appreciate it.” He set his glass on the countertop, “What do we have to do with those?” he said, pointing to the plastic container.
      “The asparagus? We gotta roast ’em and make the hollandaise.”
      Terrance took the container to the island sink and dumped out the water. He set it back down near the Pyrex dish.
      “First, we got to get rid of the tough ends on the stalks.”
      Where do you keep the knives?”
      “Don’t need one. You snap them apart. Here.” Terrance said, picking up two asparagus spears, handing one to Becker. Terrance demonstrated.
      “You take the top between your thumb and fingers of one hand, and the bottom end the same way with the other. And then you,” Terrance started to bring his hands toward each other. The spear began to bend in an upward arc, then fractured and separated from the tensile pressure.
     “You chuck out the tough,” Terrance said, tossing the bottom end into the trash, “and keep the tender.” He placed the spear in the baking dish. “Got it?”
      Becker followed suit and his spear broke in two. Lana entered the kitchen with a china platter and covered dish. Terrance turned up the heat under the double- boiler.
      “The table’s set, Terry,” she said, placing the dishes on the island, “how are you doing out here?”
      “Mase just popped his first asparagus,” Terrance said.
      “Oooo,” Lana said, “today you are a man.”
      “Cant wait to make the entry in my diary tonight,” Becker droned.
      “Mason,” Lana said, pointing to the empty glass, “one more?”
      “Please,” he said, “and that’s ‘last call’ for me.”
      “How much time left, sweets?” Lana asked Terrance.
      “Be ready in about fifteen, twenty minutes.”
      “Excellent,” she said and left the room.
      “Finish the rest of those off, Mase,” Terrance said, “I’ll get the sauce going.”
      He took a bowl and a small plate from their stacks in an upper cabinet and set them on the counter. One stick of butter was unwrapped and dropped into the bowl. Terrance unwrapped the second stick, but picked up a spatula and used the blade edge to cut the stick in half, then dumped one portion into the bowl, rewrapped the remainder and returned it to the fridge. He covered the bowl with the plate and went to the microwave. Setting the bowl inside, he shut the appliance door and pressed the MELT mode. Becker brought the dish of spears over to the oven.
      “You went to town on those,” Terrance said.
      “Well, you know what they say,” Becker quipped, “once you go asparagus…”
      Terrance’s roar filled the kitchen with a reverberating burst, as he picked up the eggs in one hand and set them on the counter near the trash bin. Becker munched on the nachos and checked the score on the TV. Five minutes remained in the game. Terrance opened the oven door. The chicken was quietly crackling and he took in a long breath. He place the vegetable dish on a lower rack and close the door.
      “That smells good,” Lana said, as she entered with Becker’s drink, “guess I can put Mario’s number away.”
      “You got that right, young lady,” Terrance said, as he opened a drawer and withdrew a butter knife, then returned to the eggs. He took one and held it upright, between the thumb and index finger of his left hand and gently tapped around the egg’s midsection. He put the knife down, then separated the halves, holding one in each hand like two dainty cups. Terrance tilted the halves one side to the other, and the yolk plopped back and forth in the shells, until all the whites had dribbled into the trash. He dropped the yolk into the top pot of the double- boiler and discarded the shells, then repeated the process with the other two.
      “I’ll take care of the water glasses,” Lana said, and pulled a clear pitcher from a cabinet, then filled it in the dispenser, recessed in the refrigerator door. Terrance grabbed another whisk from the caddy and began whipping the yolks.
      “Take the butter out of the microwave, will you Mase?” he said, and picked up the lemon bottle, squirting juice into the frothy eggs. He pulled a small jar of cayenne from a spice rack on the back wall, removed the cork top and added a dash into the pot, while continuing a vigorous churn with the whisk.
      “Where did you learn all this shit?” Becker said.
      “I had a roommate in college,” Terrance said, “Business Major, but he loved to cook. He used me as his guinea pig to try out recipes. I leaned by watching and assisting.”
      “You’re talking about Ronnie?” Lana said.
      “Right. He kept me eating good for three years straight,” Terrance said, decreasing his mixing speed. “Mase, start to pour in the butter, slowly. Just drizzle it.”
      Becker poured and Terrance continued to stir. The color of the liquid went from deep to creamy yellow.
      “Anyway,” Terrance concluded, “we eat at his steak house, every time we visit my folks, Upstate.”
      “Which reminds me,” Lana said, “your Mom called, wondering when we’re going up there again. The leaves are turning.” She turned to Becker, “Mason have you been through the Adirondacks in the Fall?”
      “Years ago.”
      “The mountains are gorgeous, all red, orange and gold. And the quaint little shops, scattered all over.”
      “I hear the makings of another expedition for hidden treasures.”
      “Never mind you.”
      Terrance looked at Becker, “Mase, we go up in a car, come back in a U- Haul.”
      “No sense in wasting a trip,” Lana said, then headed for the door, “let’s plan a visit soon, honey.”
      “Mmm Hmm.” Terrance turned off the oven, then kept stirring. Becker put the empty bowl in the sink.
      “Bring over the china, buddy.”
      Becker took the dishes from the island and placed them on the counter near the stove. Terrance pulled a wooden spoon from the caddy, dipped into the sauce, then tasted his creation.
      “Oh, that’s good,” he said, putting the cover on the pot, then tossing the spoon into the sink. He opened a drawer and pulled out what Becker thought had to be the largest oven mitts he’d ever seen.
      “Damn, T, those look like something from the bomb squad.”
      “Yeah, I got them on-line.”
      Terrance opened the door on the oven and removed the sheet of chicken and the Pyrex dish. He took the spatula and transferred the items to the platter and the dish. He lifted the pot, uncovered it and poured the hollandaise over the middle sections of the asparagus, then grabbed the lemon pepper from the spice rack and sprinkled granules over the sauce. He covered the dish, handed it to Becker, then picked up the platter. “Let’s eat.”
      Becker led the way toward the door.
      “Hey Mase, you plan on shooting anything at the table?”
      “Huh?”
      “Your sidearm. You want to lock it up with mine?”
      “Yeah. Right. Didn’t even think about it.”
      Becker always removed his weapon first thing, when at home or in friendly surroundings. In the last two days he never let it out of his reach, even in bed. What changed things on Friday night? he thought. It bugged him, through the meal and after. He dreaded the old feelings, rising within him.
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