Excerpt from Chow for Now

Chow for Now“Oh, that damn Dickie, so help me” Rae Nell screamed in her empty dining room before blowing out the dinner candles. “If he forgot about tonight, I’ll kill him, so help me God.”

She turned at the nightmare sound of an approaching car coughing and groaning up the slight incline on the block. Then she watched through her dining room windows in horror as Dickie wiggled and groaned his way out of the DeLorean. He held the drivers side gull wing door up with an undoubtedly cheap bottle of wine in a brown paper bag. Eventually he jumped out of the way and let the door fall with a tinny rattle then slammed it shut with two or three hip checks. God, how she hated that disgusting car.

She quickly relit the candles, undid another blouse button, scrunched her small white shorts down out of her butt and pasted on her best smile. Ughh, the things she did for a sale.

“Well, hey there Dickie. I was beginning to wonder if you’d forgotten.” She held open the screen door and smiled a big smile, hoping it would help keep the cutting edge out of her voice.

“Stopped to pick up a bottle of wine for you, Rae, figured since you were cooking dinner it was the least I could do,” Dickie parried, enjoying the fact that his tardiness had pissed her off.

“Wine, no kidding, gee, the guy at the liquor store must have freaked when he saw you weren’t buying beer. Holy cow, it’s even got a cork,” she attacked, all smiles and eyes glaring.

“Yeah, but once that’s out you can still drink it right out of the bottle.”

“That the way they wear it down at your meat market?” she nodded at Dickie’s untucked golf shirt hanging out over his belt.

“Hmm-mmm . . . like what you’ve done with the dining room,” he commented, not letting her get to him. Haphazardly bunching his shirt back into his trousers, looking around, knowing full well the dining room ceiling, walls, furniture, right down to the switch plates were all exactly the way they’d been when she had thrown him out.

She ignored his attempt at sarcasm, walking out to the kitchen, relegating his bottle of wine to the most distant dark corner against the wall next to the refrigerator. “I’ll think of you when I serve this,” she said sweetly, her tone suggesting she would either pour it down the drain or serve it on pancakes.

“Don’t get comfortable,” she added tired of sparing and going in for the kill. “I’m putting you to work outside at the grill, here take these steaks out there I’ll have mine just a little past medium, you remember how,” she smiled perhaps just a little too sweetly. Indicated ‘a little past medium’ with her hand almost the way Darcy had the night before.

“Everything’s ready to go whenever you finish the steaks. I’ve got one or two items to take care of in here, then I’ll join you outside.”

“You want a glass a wine?” she asked opening the refrigerator, handing him the saran covered platter with two large, thick steaks resting in a puddle of their own juice. The edges of the thick steaks hung heavily over the sides of the platter.

“Or, I’ve even got a couple of cold beers in here, somewhere” she said bending over, reaching into the far corner of the refrigerator, arching her back in a way she knew made him crazy. Making sure her hot pink thong had a chance to show off its attributes through the small white shorts. She counted to five slowly before looking back over her shoulder, letting her hair fall the way he liked, smiling sweetly and asking, “Anything you’d like?”

Dickie quickly looked down at the platter of steaks, but not quite quickly enough and she caught him. He may have been caught appraising, but it also convinced him there was an agenda for the evening, he didn’t know what, just yet, but Rae Nell wanted something.

“How about just a glass of water,” he said, sounding slightly depressed.

“Water? You sure, Dickie? You okay?” Rae Nell straightened up from the refrigerator genuinely surprised, quickly calculating she might have a much tougher sale on her hands than she originally thought.

“Yeah, trying to watch my figure,” Dickie replied, exhaling, aware he had just survived the first round of combat.

“That’s a lot to watch,” Rae Nell countered absently, filling a glass first with ice, then water from the refrigerator door and handing it to Dickie.

“You remember where the grill is, out back?”

“You bet,” Dickie said, escaping with the platter and his water to the relative safety of the back yard.

The grill looked like it hadn’t been uncovered since the last time Dickie had used it six years ago. It flamed to life after just a couple of clicks from the ignition spark. Of all the many material things Dickie had lost, this had been one of the dearest.

He had always referred to it as the Cadillac of grills, big, brushed steel with chrome trim highlights, eight gas range controls, even a warming oven and shelf. He had once cooked steaks and corn on the cob for sixteen people and barely broke a sweat. It was gorgeous, and the only reason he hadn’t slithered back in the dead of night to steal it from Rae Nell was because it would never fit on his houseboat.

He lifted the plastic wrap, sniffed the beautiful cuts of meat. There was a smell, not at all unpleasant but somehow different, not the same beef odor Dickie expected. Rae Nell had spiced the steaks just the way he liked them using Wee Willie’s dry marinade, the number one, not too much and he picked up the marinade scent on the steaks. Screw the diet he thought, setting the platter down, the gorgeous pieces of meat calling to him. He placed his left hand over the grill, palm down, adjusting the gas with his right. He patiently let the grill heat a bit so it would sear the meat, seal in the moistness for the perfect steak dinner. When he deemed the grill ready he threw Rae’s on first, giving her steak an extra minute on each side, the meat soon sizzling sensuously, an intoxicating scent wafting up.

Rae Nell looked out the window and wiggled her shorts down. She sipped her glass of wine reminding herself to take it easy or she’d never get what she wanted tonight. She had no intention of really joining Dickie out in the backyard, that’s all she needed, mosquito bites, so she planned to time her arrival at the grill just as he was ready to remove the steaks.

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