Sure, these things are all scripted, the right amount of special sauce spread across the set, a boom pole magically waiting just above his frosted tips for him to deliver the line, preferably mid-chew, but today feels different. He wants his thoughts to marinate, soak up something extra, a new phrase gleaming like grease sizzling across the pan. Guy feels it, searches the cast iron dark and charred recesses for it, imagines himself crawling through to a pinprick of light, crawling out into a dining room, the table set with white linens, napkins fanning out across china that gleams as much as the rows of silver spanning their sides. This is a mistake. Panic lodges like GERD, he wants to pound his chest, lower his shades and walk off set, until he sees them, dressed in silk, holding chardonnay, a phalanx of housewives with frosted tips and raccoon-eye tanlines, spider legs of chest hair curling over the cleavage line, such shameless beauty, such confidence, the knowledge of the show behind the dance. He backs up to a wall he didn’t realize was there. Is this real? One raises a glass in his direction until they all do, their poise and joy another show. To Guy, to Guy to Guy to Guy to Guy to Guy to Guy to Guy to Guy! He smells toast burning at the back of this kitchen, his eyes wide, the boom mic wavering, the chef matches his bewildered gaze. He can still hear them, his fiery women, their laughter braying in the background now. This is money! he says, and only then do the voices begin to quiet. It’s time to eat.
Jared Beloff is a teacher and poet who lives in Queens, NY with his wife and two daughters. You can find his work in The Westchester Review, littledeathlit, and the forthcoming issues of Contrary Magazine, Gyroscope Review and others. You can find him online at www.jaredbeloff.com. Follow him on twitter @read_instead