I first posted this story on March 15, 2012… I thought it would be fun to bring back for St. Pat’s Day 2016… it was one of my first attempts at writing a Haiku…
Quill Shiv has a new Haiku writing prompt… A photo of Saint Patrick.
Corned Beef and Cabbage Tacos… In 1986, back in my Restaurant Days, I went to work for Jerry Franco. Jerry was a bit of a culinary impresario on the Sacramento restaurant scene. He had just reopened the Town House on 21st Street, down the block from The Sacramento Bee newspaper. The Town House had been a Mexican Food tradition and had been sitting empty for a few years after the owner retired. Franco had opened in a blaze of glory, courting the news hounds and the denizens of California State Government. Having just left a job managing The Fabulous Fifties Cafe, I was ready to mingle with and serve adults. So I went to work for Jerry as a waiter/bartender/manager.
It was a fun place to work, and we did some crazy promotions to try to make the Town House a success. Big lunch business, big after-work bar business. He kept a few Mexican items on the menu, along with the ‘Upscale Designer’ dishes he came up with. Each Happy Hour, we featured a Taco Bar, where the patrons could make their own tacos, to wash down with their Martinis and G & T’s. For me, that taco bar was a pain in the ass, since I had to leave the bar and run back to the kitchen to replenish the supplies. But the tips were pretty good as long as the food held out.
The Speakeasy #159… THE LEPIDOPTERIST
Somewhere in Chicago a telephone rings…
“Hi, Ethel. Let me guess, we’re eating Mexican food today.”
“Si, mi hermana. Arturo’s is having a burrito sale. It’s on me.”
‘On me’ coming from Ethel meant she wanted something. Cheryl was proud of her friend for sticking with the Spanish class she had found in the PennySaver, but she was not about to tell her. Most of Ethel’s ‘projects’ lasted a week at best, and it had been a while since the ceramics fiasco.
“Let me guess. You have a new hobby.”
“You know how I’ve always been interested in Entomology, I’m going to be a Lepidopterist!”
“So now you’re taking Latin? What the hell are you talking about, Ethel, some English please?”
“A butterfly collector, Cheryl. I’m going to be a Butterfly Collector!”
“Okay, first of all, where are you going to find a butterfly in the city? Second, how does this involve me?”
“I’ve already collected one. You know how I can’t harm animals, I need you to stick the pin in when I mount it.”
“Oh right, the PETA thing. All right, I’ll do it, but only after Arturo’s.”
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Western & Armitage…
“Uno burrito pollo con extra salsa y beanos, por favor.”
“I’ll have a number seven, Arturo, thanks.”
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Later on the third floor of a brownstone in Wicker Park…
“It’s kind of drab and not very pretty, Ethel. I didn’t know you had a net, where did you find it?”
“I used a jar, Cheryl. It was on the back porch by the light. I don’t want to hurt it and besides those beady little eyes give me the creeps. That’s why you have to do it”
‘All right, give me the pin. Where do you want it?”
It fluttered for a moment, magnificent in its struggle, then wilted and lay still.
“One thing, Ethel. I hate to break your butterfly bubble, but I’m pretty sure that’s a moth.”
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Speakeasy Managing Editor Suzanne Purkis has issued these instructions for this week’s entry in the writing contest:
- Submissions must be fiction or poetry.
- You must include the following sentence ANYWHERE in your submission: “It fluttered for a moment, magnificent in its struggle, then wilted and lay still.”
- You must also include a reference to the media prompt. An American Silver Fox by John James Audubon
The sentence is courtesy of last week’s winner… A Z Gringa in the Bleached Bone Valley. Her story is called No Time For Patience… I loved it, and you will too.
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Incidentally, if ever in Chicago… Check out Arturo’s Tacos in Bucktown. Fond memories of fabulous burritos after closing the bars…
(If you recognize the castle and have not watched the ending… read no further)
She pushed her way out the revolving door, past the disgusting smokers, inhaling with them for a split second and wishing she had one. She needed to stretch off the molded plastic chair she had been sitting on all night. Reaching the end of the overhang, it was beginning to get light out, nothing but a dreary drizzle… it had been “raining cats and dogs” earlier, as Ethel liked to say. They told her to go home, nothing she could do, they would call her. But Ethel was her best friend, so she sat and waited.
Cheryl had bought a Tribune, she didn’t bother with the front section, the news was always depressing and she felt bad enough. She skipped the financial section, no interest, but quick to exhaust the A & E for gossip. Sports were left, time to check and see if the Blackhawks were still undefeated. Their friend Betty had gotten them hooked on hockey. Betty lived near Detroit, so she was a Wings fan. She called them ‘her babies’, and went on and on about them… they weren’t doing well. Ethel and Cheryl found it exciting and watched all the games on TV. Betty had also turned them on to Downton Abbey. That’s who Cheryl was blaming for Ethel’s present condition and her own discomfort. Downton Abbey… Julian Fellowes who writes the show, Dan Stevens (Mathew) for not renewing his contract so Mathew had to be killed… and Betty. Ethel was devastated and the shock was just too much for her.
A doctor came out and told Cheryl that Ethel was okay and ready to go home. He thanked her for waiting. “It had only been a case of bad heartburn.”
Cheryl felt bad. Ethel will be pissed she didn’t have a heart attack. She had insisted they order in from the new Mexican restaurant, and Ethel was not an adventurous eater. Cheryl had insisted on calling 911 when Ethel said she was okay. Maybe, she was to blame.