Pink Chicken

Rhett didn’t think the chicken was cut thin enough. Says the chicken doesn’t cook right if it’s too thick. The middle stays pink and the costumers complain about everything it seems. Sure the middle might be pink, but it’s not raw. They can eat it and be fine, no big deal. But since they paid money for their chicken, they have to get it exactly how they want it. The privilege. The nerve. Rhett shakes with anger every time a plate gets sent back to the kitchen. Makes the waitress wince when he screams and cusses all the saliva out of his mouth.

Rhett is an angry man. Most chefs are. But most chefs are angry during rushes exclusively where as Rhett is only one inconvenience away from blowing his lid. Regardless the lunch rush is something to behold. The kitchen crew steers clear of him when the rush hits. Not the dishwasher though. She has to keep up with Rhett’s hectic pace. Her name is Claire. Has a credit score of 449. Gets in overtime all the time. Doesn’t take no for an answer, but is the first one to give it as one. Regardless, Claire washes dishes faster than Rhett can dirty them up. Rhett says it’s a talent. It probably is.

It was a Thursday lunch rush in Rhett’s restaurant. Busier than usual. More plates being sent back into the kitchen as usual. More cussing and spitting than usual. Chicken cut thicker than usual. Claire is keeping up with Rhett. Part of the reason is because Rhett goes to the walk-in and takes a swig of whiskey every 10 minutes like he does. Claire thinks he’s had too much to drink. Rhett differs, he could be more drunk he figures. Another chicken dish came back into the kitchen. The waitress, goes by Dill, tells the kitchen,

“It’s pink in the middle!”

Rhett’s blood could just about boil. He approaches the waitress who’s already wincing. Rhett grabs the pink chicken with his bare hands, makes a fist with the poultry in hand. Rhett played baseball in his youth. Wasn’t very good, but good enough to make varsity in his small town. Regardless, Rhett probably could have chucked that chicken for a clean 60MPH if Claire didn’t scream out beforehand.

“Rat! Rat! Kill the rat!” That was Claire. She’s scared of rats. Rats and balloons.

And thus began the commotion. Claire and the crew jumped up and down as the rat scurried around below the dishwashing station. Dill ran out into the dining room playing it off like there wasn’t a grimy rat in the same kitchen as their undercooked chicken. Rhett hunched over and hunted the rat under the sinks. He couldn’t see that well under the sinks, but he figured there wasn’t much that felt like a rat in the world other than a rat. Reaching around, Rhett squeezed his hands and felt a soft body in his fist.

Rhett ran with his hands cupped to make sure the rat didn’t wiggle his way out. In a hurried pace, Rhett exited the restaurant and made his way to the field that laid directly to the left of the restaurant. Rhett is a mean man, but not a malicious one. He decided to let the rat down in the field. He lowered himself onto the pitch of the grass and released his grip in his hands.

From his hands a pink ball of chicken rolled out onto the pitch.

From inside the restaurant, Claire looked out the window where she could see Rhett rolling on the floor, jiggling from all his laughing.

The rat lived.

Rhett laughed.

The chicken was pink.

It was alright.

H. G. Salas

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