Friday, July 22, 2016

The Chef

My lifelong dream has always been to own my own food truck business and I had saved every spare penny in order to make it a reality. Funny thing is that not even death could keep me from being the chef I always wanted to be.

Cooking is in my blood, it’s a ‘Ohana’ thing, something I willingly ponied up thousands to go to the best culinary school, just so I could hang that piece of paper on the wall to prove that I was the real deal. The people from my home village didn’t care how educated I was, their only gripe was that I was getting on in age and showed no desire to get married or have children. ‘Something must be wrong with her’, they often gossiped behind my back, ‘Maybe she is one of those people’ was often overheard as well. It made me uncomfortable, but not for myself but my aging mother, who too often had to defend me from the obtrusive comments and questions. The only way I would ever be taken seriously was if I went somewhere new. Hence the move to the mainland. With just my framed diploma, knife bag and some clothes, and boarded a one-way flight with no real destination in mind.
Moving from Hawaii to the Olympic Peninsula was a bit of a culture shock when I first arrived three years ago, but I was determined, had a good work ethic and positive community spirit and it had earned me some brownie points from some of the natives. It took about a year to find the right sized truck to launch my mobile dream, and then another to get it all equipped. Supplies on the peninsula were limited and it got really expensive to have to truck them in from Seattle on a regular basis. I had been working twenty plus hour days to get things ready for the upcoming summer break. A few times, as I was later told, I even passed out from sheer exhaustion and woke up in strange places surrounded by weirder faces. The pressure to finish was draining me; still I forced myself to keep on working –  opening day was just two weeks away. All that remained was the final inspection from the Health Department and to get my permit to sell.

After an especially long night doing truck maintenance, I plopped onto my twin bed, too tired to change my greasy clothes. Scruff, the mechanic helper had been acting a little extra ‘off’ tonight but he was cheap so I didn’t complain. I wasn’t so entrenched into the community that I felt comfortable enough to ask those kinds of personal questions, so I just utilized my island charm by smiling and cooing in low tones. I even went as far to give the odd man a very maternal like hug when he started to leave for the evening. He seemed unfazed but wrapped his clammy arms around me, it was being trapped by an octopus. Eww!

Sleep didn’t come easily for me that night. At times, I thought I was roasting with a fever as hot as Mauna Loa, then it would become so bitterly cold that I forgot it was June and had to reach for my winter covers. That chill set in and remained the rest of the evening, fatigue taking over and sending me into deep slumber. There was no one else in the small home to witness my tossing or hear my fevered moans. There were no dreams that night, just darkness and the cold.

When the morning birds first crowed, dawn found me ensconced in a cocoon of down and covered with a layer of cold sweat. But I felt nothing, just stillness and a void. ‘Must be getting sick’ I pondered to myself. Dragging my body off the bed and into the tiled bathroom, the day’s priorities playing out in my sleep deprived mind. The floor didn’t feel as cold as it normally did this time of day, so I figured I was probably sick, the image looking back at me from the bathroom mirror looked withdrawn and pale. My skin was cold to the touch. I reached for the old thermometer in the drawer and stuck it in my mouth and waited. Fever or no, I had things to do today and nothing was going to change that. A couple long minutes passed and I pulled it out of my mouth - it hadn’t beeped so I my brain wasn’t roasting over 105 degrees. I had to squint really hard to see in the early morning light, it said 65 but that couldn’t be right, according to the fancy wall barometer/temperature that was what it was currently in the house. So I reset it and did it again…and again and again. By the time it had sunk in that the thermometer wasn’t broken, it was already past 8 o’clock. I had been turned. How or why, it didn’t matter. I was still going to march into the County Office and get my license.

The condition didn’t really start taking effect so quickly, aside from being room temperature, I could still think and recall memories. I began reciting recipes in my head to keep from forgetting. I would have to write everything down while I still could, before the hunger took over, before I stopped being me.  I was so deep into my own mind that I didn’t even realize that I had arrived at the office until I heard someone call out “NEXT”.

Things went downhill from there. Apparently the government doesn’t officially recognize ‘my kind’ as legal citizens and the Health Inspector did not want to give me a permit because according to him ‘I was technically dead’. There was much argument between all those involved and someone had eventually called in the Mayor and the Sheriff for their opinions. I just sat there and watched all of them argue the legal rights of the recently deceased versus the chance to make a landmark ruling and be the first to have a food establishment run by a zombie. Finally, when I couldn’t take it anymore, I jumped up, slamming my hand onto the laminate covered desk and screamed “What is the problem? It’s not like I am going to be cooking humans, that’s disgusting. Would you rather have a proper cook feeding the undead or let them keep sneaking around picking off random tourists or drunks.?” You could see the wheels rolling in their hamster brained heads. It took another hour of deliberation, I had fallen asleep in my chair, but eventually the Inspector declared that I would be the first, the experiment and be allowed to serve cooked food, provided I still followed the Living Health Code and be subject to frequent random inspections.

“Starve to Death” Mobile Company, LLC was born, coincidentally the day I died. 

1 comment:

  1. Thoroughly engrossed in the story now! The plot sickens...