Written / Cooking On High


Chapter 40

Chapter 40

Fry dashed home with the intent of showering and going to French’s place. She’d finished out her brunch shift without too much trouble and was ready for a night of rest and relaxation... so to speak. Oh, and of helping French figure out her ‘seating plan’, whatever that meant.

There was a police car out front, but she didn’t think too much about it. That wasn’t an uncommon occurrence at her house. She walked through the front door and was called into the living room by her mother. When she opened the door to the right of the main entrance to look in, she saw Chief Maxwell Hunt standing in the room with Officer Johnny Little. That was an uncommon occurrence.

Her mother walked over and put her arm around her shoulder. “Don’t worry sweetheart, we’ll get this all straightened out.”

“Violet Spark,” Johnny began, “You are under arrest for breaking and entering, and theft. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.”

Fry was stunned. Johnny walked over and put a hand on her shoulder. “You will come with us to the station where you will be detained until your hearing.”

Johnny sounded like he was reciting from a textbook, he couldn’t help it. He was so nervous that he was going to screw up right in front of the chief. Before apprehending Violet, the most action he’d had was locking up drunks who got too rowdy in the bars downtown. And none of those guys scared him half as much as the look he was getting from Violet’s mother. And then there was her dad, Howard. Since they’d arrived he’d stood off to the side with his arms folded. No one messed with Howard Spark. He wasn’t a large man, he wasn’t even intimidating to look at, but everyone knew that he was a crazy son of a bitch vet who’d kill you as soon as look at you if you pissed him off. Lucky for most people, he had a lot of patience. Most people said it was because he was a zen monk or something, the rest said it was from living with Priscilla as long as he had.

“You’re not going to get away with this Maxwell. We’re not giving up our boycott of the exploitative tourism industry of this town. This is harassment.” Priscilla exclaimed.

“Save your lip for the Judge Priscilla. We’ve got witnesses. Of course Violet, there may be something you can do to cooperate with us. Then I might not have to send you to Hamilton Women’s Prison for the next five years. Not that you’d mind it, considering the company you’ve been keeping lately.”

Fry’s eyes went wide. He was trying to bribe her. He was insulting French! Well, maybe not in the way he thought he was. French would be way too dangerous to keep in a minimum security prison like Hamilton. That is, if she was still like that, which Fry was sure she wasn’t. “Save it. I’m not telling you anything.”

“Violet! Telling him what? What have you been up to with that... that... carnivore?” Priscilla demanded.

“Mother let me explain!” When her mother used the ‘c’ word, she was in trouble.

“No! I knew we should never have stood for you working for her! What about your work? The community? What has that woman ever contributed to anything but herself?”

“She’s trying to change all of that!”

“What have I told you? To change you have to be willing to put other people’s needs before your own in order to help the community at large. She’s a self-centered, egomaniac who wouldn’t know the greater good if it jumped out of her stock pot and bit her. And if it did, she’d kill it and serve it as a special.”

“She would not!” Fry protested, but she wasn’t entirely certain on that point. French would take a dim view of anything that jumped out of one of her stock pots.

“I’m sorry Violet.” Johnny interrupted. “But I have to put the cuffs on.”

Howard stepped forward and put a hand on Johnny’s shoulder. “I don’t think so son. Violet will come peacefully. We’ll settle this without creating too many hard feelings.”

Johnny glanced over at the Chief who nodded. “It’s a shame Violet, maybe you should reconsider.”

Fry thought that this was when the spunky little heroine would spit at the bad guy and tell him to stuff it. But her mother hated spitting, so she narrowed her eyes at him like French would and said, “You can’t intimidate me Maxwell, I know who you’re working for.”

The Chief turned red. Maybe she hadn’t calculated that comment just right. He gave a tight smile and told Johnny to bring her out to the car.


She made her one phone call to French. Johnny had said that she wasn’t due a phone call because she’d already told her parents. She’d told him to stuff it and besides, she knew he’d cheated on Stephanie Wilkins in the tenth grade. He shut up and let her make the call. He’d been married to Stephanie since he’d gotten her pregnant after Senior year. It wasn’t a mistake he regretted, but he didn’t need her to know about Jenny.

Fry called the front desk and asked Barbra if she could speak to the chef. As French picked up, Fry heard the sounds of the kitchen faintly in the background. French must have left her office door open. The sounds filled Fry with a warm feeling. “Hi!”

“Hi yourself. Can’t you wait ten minutes? I said I had to wrap up a few things.”

“You’re the one who’s going to have to wait. I don’t think they’re going to give me conjugal visits.”

“Who isn’t?”

“The cops. I’m in the Hoosegow. I think someone wants that box ahead of schedule. Chief Hunt suggested that if I cooperated he wouldn’t send me to the big house for the rest of the summer. Oh and for five years after that too.”

“He what!?”

“It’s for breaking and entering and theft. He says he has witnesses and that I ought to cooperate. I think I’m bait or something. Like you’re going go all to mush because they’ve got your moll locked up. Can you imagine? How juvenile.” There was silence on the other end of the line. “French?”


“You’re not going to go all to mush or anything are you?”

“Over you? I doubt it.”

“Gee thanks. What’s the plan?”

“Sit tight, Bugsy. I’ll be in touch.”

“You can’t leave me here and not tell me what’s going on! My mother’s furious with me!” But French had already hung up.


“I’ve been expecting you. Sit down, won’t you?” Portia Redmond motioned toward one of the chairs in her study.

French sat. She hadn’t gone into this enterprise without considering that there were some dangerous players involved. Portia was strictly a ‘handle with care’ sort of specimen. And French had underestimated her protective instincts. She’d also crossed a newly defined line in her own mind and wanted to set things right.

Portia leaned on the edge of her desk and faced French. “You don’t honestly think I’d let you spend all of that time around my son and not take out an insurance policy against you did you? Your reputation preceded you all too well. I just didn’t think I’d ever have to use it once you were gone.”

“I’m not here to play word games or socialize. I want you to drop your crap charges against Violet Spark, or I’m going to send your son away for a long trip. I don’t have much to lose here.”

“I disagree. You’re nothing but a talented piece of gutter trash and I regret the day my son set eyes on you. Fact is you’re not as good as you think you are. And that insurance policy I mentioned... it’s a very well documented case of embezzlement that’s got your name very firmly affixed to it. I can also assure that Violet Spark won’t see the light of day for a long time to come. I wonder what kind of a bed warmer she’ll make for some strapping young woman over at Hamilton. So darling, you’d better think again before you start threatening me.”

French had no idea what to say to that. There was no way she was sharing Fry with someone named Hamilton, or anyone else. Not until she was good and finished with her. Whenever that might be. She slipped her hand into her pocket and drew out an envelope. “Well Portia, you’re too much of a woman for me. You really are. Must be all of that tennis that keeps you so sharp. Or is it the guy you’re playing with? Must be confusing keeping all of the men in your life straight. I mean, do you ever accidentally call out Mitchell’s father’s name when you’re screwing Zachery?” The bitch had the decency to go pale.

“You can’t think I didn’t know you’d take precautions while I was becoming intimate with your corporate documentation.” French continued. “It’s not like you don’t have a reputation yourself. There isn’t a woman who dated your son who hasn’t got your dainty footprint permanently embedded in her ass. But enough small talk. As hard as this may be for you to believe, I’m not here to listen to your threats. I’m here to make a small gesture of faith. Perhaps I should have given this to you before I sent out my invitation, then you may not have gone off the deep end and tried to sabotage my soiree. I knew hostesses in this town were competitive, but really...”

French opened the envelope and removed an old colored document. She stood and handed it to Portia. The woman looked so uptight she might have swallowed her own tongue. “I suppose your reaction was understandable, if not well calculated. You’re very protective of Skyler. She’s a very special person. I always wondered why you treated her so differently from your other children. Does she know?”

“It’s none of your business.” Portia was staring at the birth certificate in her hand. She looked even more stiff, if that was possible for a woman who gave the definition a run for its money.

“You should hide that well if she doesn’t. She’s a resourceful young woman. She may find it.”

“How much is this piece of information going to cost me? It was always money that interested you, wasn’t it?”

“And here I thought we were having a moment. It’ll cost you nothing. Skyler’s out of this. Mitchell’s lineage and business dealings are another matter. Make the charges disappear against Violet and you’ve bought his lineage. But show up for dinner. Besides, it wouldn’t be the same without you.”

“Does Violet Spark know about this?” Portia looked at the paper.

“No. I palmed it as soon as I set eyes on it.”

There was a moment of silence as Portia closed her eyes and set her jaw. “Her mother was a nightmare. A con artist and a drug addict. We had no choice but to take Skyler from her.”

“Well, your son can pick ‘em, I’ll grant you that. But as you say, it’s none of my business. So I’m just going to stop over at the Hoosegow and spring my waitress. If you don’t mind.” French turned to leave.

“What makes you so sure I’ll let those charges drop? Maybe Zachery knows about Mitchell.”

French paused before opening the door. She gave Portia a knowing smile. “Sure he does. I’ll say ‘hi’ to the Chief for you while I’m over at the jail. Don’t be late to my party Grandma. I’m a stickler for punctuality.”


French was a sight for sore eyes as Fry watched her walk down the hallway to her cell. It’s not that Fry had worried, French wouldn’t let her down. It’s that she wasn’t used to being in jail for anything but protesting and it felt weird.

“Nice setup, what’d they give you to eat?” French asked.

“Dil got me a candy bar from the vending machine. He’s getting me a juice from the Kilney’s corner store now.”

“Waited service, not bad.”

“He feels awful. He’s blaming himself. I told him it was okay, that you were going to straighten it all out using your connections with the government.”

“I thought we settled that?”

“I wanted to make him feel better. You should have seen him. Are you going to stand there or are you going to get me out of here?”

“I dunno, seems like you’ve got a pretty sweet deal going.”

“Listen, my mother, father, sister and Harriet are going to burst in here in five minutes and raise holy hell with Chief Hunt, so do me a favor and save everybody some trouble. Besides, didn’t you miss me just a little bit?”

It was true. French did miss her. Which was odd, because all told it had been about an hour and a half since she’d seen her last. She shrugged, “Whatever. I might be safer with you in there. But if your family’s showing up, maybe I’ll join you.” French smiled at Fry’s pathetic attempt at an outraged expression. French yelled down the hallway. “Officer Little!”

Johnny came in and unlocked the cell. Fry rode the door as she was let out. “Thanks Johnny.” She hopped off the door and stood in front of French. “Well?”

“Well what?”

“Didn’t you miss me?” She hinted.

“Is that what all that quiet was?” French smiled.

Fry smiled too. “At least you noticed. That’s something I guess.” She pulled French down and gave her a good long kiss. “I sure missed you.”

Like everyone else born on the island Johnny knew Violet’s sexual preference, though he’d never witnessed it in action. It wasn’t half bad to look at. He closed the cell and beat it out of there. Nothing was worth dealing with Priscilla or any other Spark twice in one day.

Fry began to kiss French again. It felt like days since she’d tasted her. A voice she recognized all too well boomed down the hallway. “Violet!” It was her mother. “What are you doing with... with...” Priscilla couldn’t say it, it was too hard.

“I think we can see what she was doing Mom.” Joe chimed in. Violet had filled him in on her relationship with the Terror of Sutter’s Wharf. His response had been, “No shit, she’s got a great ass.”

“Let’s discuss this at home, shall we?” Howard appealed for calm.

“I’ve got to get back to work. Things to do, pots to count, that kind of thing.” French gave Fry a sympathetic smile and nudged her a bit as a goodbye. When she turned to retreat, her path was blocked by the older, dark haired man with five o’clock shadow and a no nonsense look in his eye. French hadn’t met Howard yet. He smiled and said, “We’d appreciate it if you joined us. I think a lot of the conversation is going to concern you.”

Priscilla stood next to him, her arms crossed. “That is, if the idea of taking responsibility doesn’t scare you off.”

French had a feeling that no matter what she said, Priscilla Spark wasn’t going to like her. French wondered if she suffered a spontaneous conversion to veganism and joined the Peace Corps, Priscilla might think of her as the kind of woman that her daughter should spend time with. The only thing French really wanted to spontaneously convert to at that moment was invisibility. There was something about that wall of Sparks that gave her pause for thought. She stepped back a pace and stood next to Fry. “Guess I’m coming to your house.”

Fry felt kind of sorry for French. Her family could be overwhelming to people who weren’t used to them. She was hoping Joe wouldn’t challenge French to an arm wrestle. It was bad enough when Harriet beat him.

Continued in Chapter 41

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