Written / Cooking On High


Disclaimers Addendum

Chapter 19

Fry had finished up at Bachanal and headed home through the mostly empty streets. She made her way past a few late stragglers. She enjoyed the quiet. It gave her an opportunity to unwind before she got home. The fog was just beginning to roll in, she could feel a hint of moisture in the air and hear the faint bellow of the Thrace Point fog horn.

The fresh air gave her the extra energy to go a few blocks out of her way to get an errand done. She was going to stop by the Trawler’s Catch to drop off a few pamphlets for next week’s ‘Your Labor, Your Health’ meeting. Okay, so maybe she wasn’t going to drop them off, maybe she’d try to sneak in the back and spread them around.

As she turned off the quiet street into the alley behind the restaurant she was startled out of her wits when a figure loomed out of the shadows and shouted, “You!”

She was grabbed by the collar and marched back a few paces into the empty street.

In the brighter light there, she was able to see that it was Kyle, the manager of The Catch. He dropped the garbage that he’d been bringing out to the dumpster and snatched the pamphlets she was carrying from her hand. He wasn’t much bigger than she was, but he was all wiry muscle, lean and mean. Just like his personality. She struggled to free herself, but his grip was too strong to break. “I thought I told you to stay away from here! And if I found you sneaking around with these any more, I’d kick your ass, you little scamp!” Kyle was shouting and waving the pamphlets in her face. He was warming to his topic, enjoying her distress. It wasn’t often he got to pick on someone smaller than himself.

He shook her and went to wave the sheets under her nose again, but they were violently jerked out of his grasp from behind. Fry looked up to see French standing over them both, looking curiously at the pamphlets.

When she was sure she had their attention, French cocked her head, feigned a pout and said, “Why Fry, I’m heartbroken. I thought this was our little game. And here I find you in this intimate setting,” she gestured at the dimly lit sidestreet. “Sharing your literature with just any ol’ body.”

An odd expression had come over Kyle’s face. Fry wasn’t sure, but the sudden shaking of his hands, indicated it might be nerves, or lack thereof.

It was. Kyle had heard the stories about the insane chef at Bachanal. He’d even witnessed one of the legendary confrontations first hand. He didn’t want that kind of trouble. He wasn’t that kind of crazy, and by all accounts, she was.

He figured that being caught threatening this gnat couldn’t look good for him. But his practical brain function kicked in and overtook his nervous reaction. To his mind, another restaurateur was the last person who’d have any sympathy for a labor propagandist... health care advocate, or whatever it was she called herself. It also sounded like the chef may have had a run in with her too. This should work to his advantage. This small woman was like a thorn in your privates. “She’s been bothering you too, huh? I’ve been telling her this stuff’s a bad idea and it’d be a healthy move if she gave it up.”

“Yes, Kyle, she has been bothering me.” She walked around him, brushing his now slack hands from Fry’s shirtfront, and leaned down so they were face to face. She continued conversationally, “But you see Kyle, I rather like it. And if you have half a brain in that shrunken head of yours, you’ll take off now before I pound you into the dirt for assaulting one of my employees.” She tucked one of the pamphlets from the stack into his shirt pocket, patted it neatly and shoved him off. He stumbled toward the alleyway, picking up speed as he regained his balance.

“Why French!” Fry began when she’d sufficiently recovered from the shock. “That was almost sweet.”

“Put a cork in it. Do you know how stupid that was? What do you think you’re doing with this stuff? He’s just going to throw it out, same as I did. You’re threatening his livelihood, you think he’s going to thank you for that? You could’ve been hurt! And it’s past two A.M. for christ sakes. What are you doing sneaking around sidestreets, pamphletting in the dark?”

“I was trying to go into the The Trawler’s Catch the back way, when he saw me. Look, I know it’s dumb to deliver these things at night, but they run me off when they see me coming during the day! And I don’t just put them where the owners find them, they’re for the workers too! They deserve to know their options...”

French slapped her hand on her forehead, rolled her eyes, and said, “At least they’re smart enough to run you off, I hired you! Are you telling me that you’ve been handing this stuff out to my staff?!”

“Well yeah, I figured you knew because you’d got one too. But even though I planned it for a Monday, no one came to that meeting... except my parents and Bobby.” Fry sounded so dejected as she admitted this, that French couldn’t help but ease off. Fry sounding down was so wrong, so at odds with her boisterous personality. And it wasn’t like the pamphlets had done any harm. Apparently everyone else thought her ideas were half-baked too. “Maybe we should call it a night, huh? It’s been a long day.”

“Yeah,” Fry sighed. “I guess you’re right. And with the deliveries tomorrow you’ll have to get in early, won’t you?” They started to walk in the same direction, and without noticing it, French was drawn into the easy chatter that bubbled forth from the effervescent pamphleteer.

Fry had returned to the subject of health care and was extolling the virtues of a nationalized plan. French shook her head as her mind reeled at Fry’s idealism and flights of fancy. “Ya know, Nationalized Healthcare sucks! I’ve lived in a lot of those countries and I’ll tell you where the people who have money don’t go when they need good medical care!”

“I can’t believe that someone of your intelligence would make that argument! We don’t live in a perfect world, none of these solutions is ideal. The point is to find one that serves the most people the best way! Not leaves the vast majority out, while performing miraculous cures for those few who can afford it! It’s not like the rich won’t always have better options. You’ve got to see that!”

“You’re delusional if you think that kind thing will ever fly here. Your average Joe won’t go for it and it’ll be a cold day in hell before corporate America lets anything like that happen.”

“Well, while I’m waiting for the climate to shift in places south, I might as well fight to improve the existing situation and educate people about their options. Affordable health care is a right we all share, you have to agree with that.”

French groaned. “No, I don’t have to agree...”

“The people who keep this country running, the ones who pick the food you eat, who take care of the sick, who wash the...”

“I get the picture ...”

“These people deserve health care too French. Good night.”

French stopped short. She thought they were managing a decent discussion, nothing to get all testy over and storm off in a huff. But Fry wasn’t storming off, she was standing there smiling.

“This is my house. And I’d invite you in, but like you said, it’s late and... Thanks for walking me home. I’ll see you tomorrow, unless you have plans to fire me or something.”

“Oh, nah... not yet. I’ll keep you posted. ‘Night Fry.”

Continued in Chapter 20.

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