Tag Archives: restaurant

The Food Inspector, Part IV

Continued from Part III.

“I have eaten here many times,” Janoa was saying, and it was a lie. Merriweather had never seen him before. “I very much like the soup, I adore the croquettes, I find the chocolate tart quite divine. To be a food inspector is such a privilege, don’t you think? But also such a responsibility. Public safety is in my hands, but also the livelihood of an artisan, a craftsman, to whom food is an expression of the soul, but to whom perhaps the matters of business are not. What do you think?”

Rudolph was clearly struggling to think anything. He took a deep breath, as if about to dive into a deep pool. “I’m sure it is a very important job,” he said. “And I have indeed heard that the food here is excellent, and…”

“Do you believe in second chances?” interrupted Janoa.

Rudolph swallowed. “No,” he said.

“Me neither.”

The door to the street crashed open. Three policemen stormed into the room. Rudolph jumped in his seat, but Janoa’s hand had slid forward and closed a strong grip around his wrist.

Merriweather turned and fled.

He ran into the kitchen, turned and pushed the door closed, leaning his weight against it. Then he surveyed the room.

Grease covered almost every surface. Unwashed crockery from the past fortnight was piled high near the sink, encrusted with remains that had long turned green. The strange smell from the fridge – he had been meaning to sort that out for months. The bag of rotting fruit lay where he had left it yesterday, as did the knife he had used to cut out the mould.

He heard the sound of footsteps. Clean white shoes on the floor of the corridor to the kitchen.

The footsteps stopped just the other side of the door.

Knock, knock, knock.

Merriweather began to panic.


The End


The Food Inspector, Part III

Continued from Part II.

Merriweather’s eyes went wide. He saw Rudolph sitting very still, colour rising into his cheeks, hand resting upon the table… was it shaking slightly? Merriweather imagined he could hear cogs turning in Rudolph’s head, trying to process what was going on, trying to find a way to understand and change the situation to his advantage. Merriweather had never seen his adversary so taken aback. It was intoxicating to watch. Rudolph seemed so much smaller than normal, so much less frightening.

The man in the white suit introduced himself as Janoa Reathwate. He had a calm, measured air, as if every word and every slight motion of his arms were carefully planned out in advance. He tapped the golden pen on the pad of paper to emphasis his syllables, and it seemed as if each tap celebrated the ticking of a grandfather clock. The man spoke with a slow, gentle manner, and yet his eyes never blinked, nor shifted from their focus on the centre of Rudolph’s forehead.

The gentleness was an act, Merriweather decided. He remembered the man’s brusque manner when he had first entered the restaurant. No, this was a dangerous man, one you did not see coming for you until it was too late. What other power could make someone as threatening as Rudolph seem like a mouse cornered by a cat?

Rudolph must have realised this too. He may not have understood what the situation was, but he knew threat, he knew he was in over his head, he knew his lucrative game had evaporated. Was that sweat beading upon his brow?

To be continued…

The Food Inspector, Part II

Continued from Part I.

Merriweather walked further into his restaurant. Rudolph stalked behind him, dragging his fingers over the backs of the red leather chairs that surrounded each table. The tables towards the front of the restaurant had been empty, but as they walked, Merriweather remembered the man in the white suit.

It was unusual to have a guest stay for such a long time. The man had arrived in the early evening, ordered small amounts of food and eaten it very slowly. Now he appeared to be reading some sort of technical textbook and making notes on a paper pad with a golden pen in his left hand. The man was sitting at the table nearest the cash register, and Merriweather suddenly realised he would be able to see whatever Rudolph took.

The man in the white suit looked up from his notes as they approached, smiled and called loudly, “good evening!”

Rudolph said nothing, merely nodded in acknowledgement.

“I must say,” said the man, “you’ve picked an excellent venue for your evening meal. Best I’ve eaten in a long time.”

“Thanks,” said Rudolph. “Yeah, it’s not bad.”

“Please,” said the man. “Join me.” He kicked the chair opposite him and pushed it back into Rudolph’s path. “I insist.”

Merriweather turned in confusion at hearing this conversation, and saw Rudolph, a forced smile fixed upon his face, sitting carefully down in the chair. It had never occurred to Merriweather, until that moment, that Rudolph would not be able to intimidate him in front of witnesses.

The man in the white suit smiled at Rudolph. “Trust me when I say this is the best. I should know. It’s my job.”

“What job is that?” said Rudolph.

“I,” said the man conspiratorially, “am the food inspector.”

To be continued…

The Food Inspector, Part I

The bell tied to the front door clanged back and forth, angry at being disturbed at such a late hour. Merriweather looked up and saw his least welcome guest. Rudolph: aggressive, violent, cunning.

Merriweather turned back to cleaning the table, wishing he would just go away. The wish was not granted.

Merriweather,” said Rudolph. “Love what you’ve done with the place. Love the decor. Love it.”

“What do you want, Rudolph?” Rather than let himself be intimidated, Merriweather walked over and stood in front of him, trying to keep his nerve. It didn’t work.

“It’s that time again,” said Rudolph. “I got an anonymous tip-off that something is not quite right with your restaurant. Rumours of rodents, or perhaps poor quality ingredients.”

“May I see those complaints?” asked Merriweather. Rudolph smiled, unpleasantly.

“For that service there is a small fee,” said Rudolph, and smiled, lip twisting upon itself. “As there is for all other services, such as, for example, a clean rating. You know how this works.”

“My establishment is clean,” said Merriweather. “Spotless. You have no grounds other than to act honestly.”

“Listen mate,” said Rudolph, grabbing Merriweather by the collar and pulling him in close. “If you don’t give me that money, I promise I will send the full power of legal authority to ruin this little enterprise you have running. I will leave no stone unturned, I will find something bad. I will turn your precious restaurant into a pile of bricks. Now,” and he released Merriweather from his grasp, “to the cash registers if you please. No need for a receipt.”

“I’ll see what I have,” said Merriweather quietly.

To be continued…

Standards, Smith, Standards, Part II

Continued from Part II.

“Not… that… easy…” said the waiter, as if Smith had just confessed to overfeeding his cat. “This restaurant was created to serve kings, Monsieur Smeeth. Kings. Creatures of might and learning. You, for some reason, deem your self worthy to sit at their tables, yet you are incapable of placing an order intelligible to either myself or the chef!”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” begged Smith. “I just wanted to experience something new.”

“Something new!” seethed the waiter. “I will teach you something new, alright Monsieur Smeeth. I will do so as a human trains an animal for hard labour or cheap tricks… with reward.”

The little silver dish was now placed in the very centre of the table. Not a single blotch marred its perfectly polished surface. With a swift flick of his wrist, the waiter whisked away the lid, revealing a small golden cube underneath.

Du beurre. La gloire de Dieu,” whispered the waiter.

Smith stared at it. His stomach growled and curled into knots. “I’m so hungry,” he wept. “It’s been so long since I’ve had food.”

“Pronounce!” commanded the waiter. “Pronounce!”

“Ploraid de fleu…” Smith started, then jumped again as the waiter again thumped the table hard, briskly replaced the lid back on the silver dish and swept it from the table.

The waiter stood tall, staring down at the cowering Smith, who was shaking and reeling on the point of starvation.

“I’ll come back, Monsieur Smeeth,” said the waiter, “when you are ready to order.”

The End

Standards, Smith, Standards, Part I

Smith averted his eyes quickly, bowed his head and read the menu once again, but it was too late. He had attracted the attention of the prim terror. It looked in Smith’s direction, then adjusted its bright white jacket with black lapels, rotated its body in a method far too practised to be natural, and glided over to the table. Smith shuddered slightly as the waiter drew up and placed a small silver lidded dish upon the gleaming tablecloth.

“Are you ready to order now?” said the waiter, delicate fingers extracting a notebook from one pocket and a pencil from another.

“Well…” hesitated Smith. “I suppose I could try again…”

“It is not a matter of trying, Monsieur Smeeth,” snapped the waiter. “It is a matter of knowing, of caring, of understanding the sensitivity and joy of true cultural exchange. Please, proceed.”

“Um, ok,” said Smith. “I’ll have the por… the pol… the porlayta…” Smith jumped as the waiter’s hand smacked down hard on the table top.

“You have learnt nothing, Monsieur Smeeth!” shouted the waiter. “Were you not listening when I explained? Or perhaps you did not care?”

“Please,” said Smith. “I’m just…”

“How on earth,” said the waiter, “will you appreciate food created by such historically unprecedented genius as that which graces our kitchen if you are unable even to pronounce the name of the dish!”

“I’m sorry, it’s not that easy!” wailed Smith. “I’m not trying to insult you, I’m just from somewhere else. It’s not that easy!”

To be continued…

Where You Left Them, Part III

Continued from Part II.

Lensker shook his head as he stood up from the table. “No idea, Chalk. No idea.”

“Really?” said Chalk, who suddenly seemed to loosen up and release the tension from his chest. “How strange. I could have sworn that they were right here in front of me.” He held a foot out from under the table. At the end of a blue pinstripe trouser-leg hung an unremarkable brown shoe, polished and laced and neat.

Alarmed, Lensker took a step back, but then felt a strong grip upon his shoulder. He turned around and came face-to-face with a man who look exactly like… himself? Same face, same hair, same build…

“Two hundred samples of your DNA,” said Chalk. “One taken each day from the cutlery you used at this restaurant, and we were able to create a clone.”

Lensker stood, frozen in shock, as his identical persecutor put hands round Lensker’s throat.

“He will be my spy,” said Chalk. “He will pretend to be you, people will hire him, he will learn their secrets and share them with me.”

“What are you going to do with me?” said Lensker.

“Does it matter?” came the reply. “You are a fraud and a coward. Did you do anything with your life? Change anything even just a little bit? Did you ever make the right decision… or just the easy one?”

Lensker began to choke.

“You didn’t really live your life, Lensker,” said Chalk. “So now we’re going to do it for you.”

The End