With thoughts such as these, he slowly watched the water turn to wine.
Now, where had he heard that before?
Perhaps he’d been working too hard.
Deadlines seemed to have the desired effect.
Then there were all the comparisons from the reviews and critiques he so relished to compete with, even if they were unabashed; he couldn’t ignore them. It was almost an addiction.
The voices never seemed to go away.
As thrust upon him as his status was, he nevertheless had to recognise it for what it was: a curse. And then there were the abandonment issues that haunted him. But, that’s for another time and place.
Or was it a trick of time?
So much water under the proverbial bridge… Still, there were the perks and party tricks.
Take the water into wine scenario. A definite crowd pleaser.
And yet tonight he was a party of one.
He had to be careful in public if he didn’t want to draw undue attention to his triality. Such a liability.
Best to play it safe and stick to the white varietals.
The reds were a dead giveaway.
Sometimes he just couldn’t help himself. Not that money was an issue. He could quite easily afford to splurge on a decent vintage.
The waiter retuned to the table with a full carafe of still water as requested.
“Your water, Sir.”
“Thank you Raymond. We mustn’t ignore the health warnings. Two nights a week alcohol free at a minimum. And mumis the word…”
“Understood Mr Roderickson. The holy seal is upon my lips. The least I can do for someone of your culinary sitting.”
Raymond poured a half wineglass of water for the solitary diner.
“Precisely. And please don’t think it would colour my opinion of tonight’s fare. It might even give my palate the edge needed to appreciate chef’s delicate infusions.”
Raymond bowed imperceptibly and returned to his station to retrieve menus for another table’s newly arrived guests.
The clientele is certainly up to scratch, mused Jasper Roderickson to himself as he observed his fellow diners be seated by the maître d, who had subtly caught Raymond’s eye with an allusive raised brow.
Jasper briefly appraised his glass and water and closed his eyes for a count of three.
There, it was done.
A Pinot Gris, vintage circa take your pick of the crop. An embodiment of its finest characteristics.
It would suffice. And it pleased him.
Now to consult his menu.
Now this is fancy.
The menu was a handheld device; a tablet that enabled the diner to ‘swipe’ through the a la carte selections from entre, through mains to desserts; including wine and cheeses.
Not that I’ll be needing to select from the wine list. What a chore…
He chuckled to himself over the revelation such an interfering interface this would have been for the old fellow on the mount.
The Big M would have spat the dummy trying to use this thing. Talk about upskilling the middle man.
Jasper began to scroll through his options in a bid to satiate his appetite.
Loaves and fish, to start? Now, I am a true original. Come, now; overcome thyself. Tuna tartar on a crusty baguette? Quails eggs and caviar? A pate perhaps? Pate it is with medallion sized cruskits and… No. Wait. Baltic sprats! That’s the ticket. An entrée fit for a king.
He flirted with the idea of dipping in at random to see what fate had in store. Not that it would matter.
As to a main, how can I go passed the venison steak with blackberry sauce and horseradish potato rosti? Kulebyaka? No, a pie will not do on this occasion. Aah, but the stroganoff. As always it seems the devil is in the detail…
He had promised himself tapas as a treat, but his favourite haunt was closed for a private function. Not considering himself a gate-crasher, he resisted the temptation to invite himself along to celebrate the nuptials.
Dessert was up in the sir. A flan? Followed by a small selection of cheeses and an espresso? Only if there was room. One had to retain one’s decorum.
Hard to beat a wedding reception. Scene of one of my everlasting performances, to be sure.
Jasper raised his head from the focus of the screen and beckoned to Raymond with a nod.
The waiter promptly appeared like a devotee by his side and accepted the device with a mannered flourish of approval and a wink.
Jasper raised his glass in place of a hat and sat back contentedly to appraise the environs.
Jamon, jamon, like pigs to the slaughter of their own self-worth, he rapped to himself and tapped out the beat with thumb and forefinger on the table.
I guess I just can’t help being the devil’s advocate. Agent Provocateur – now that would make a good name for an eatery. Let’s just see what Gospodin Anton Apollyon can produce tonight.
Jasper surveyed his fellow diners to whom he discreetly entered references in his Moleskine notebook:
Civil couples, a boisterous group or two, mainly professionals, representatives of baby boomers, generations X and Y, the odd single consulting their smart phones for reassurance, politicians at table with suspected underworld figures, a celebrity who remains unnoticed, and a journalist also taking notes…
Saints and sinners alive. A cross section of creation comporting as members of a society on the turn.
The décor was befitting of cosmopolitan chic, well-appointed yet with an air of ironic self-deprecation in the form of non-reflective gilded mirrors that depicted photographic scenes of personalities and epochal upheaval. Think Whitlam on the steps of old parliament house or Nixon waving his trademark victory salute as he departed ignominiously after his impeachment. Mao. Tank man with his shopping bags, Mandela walking free, fat Elvis, Michael Jackson transmogrified, Obama, works by Magritte, Dali and the silhouette of all too human fears in the shape of Hitchcock, to name a few.
Jasper was caught momentarily reflecting on his place in the scheme of things, when Raymond loomed out of his own history to present the entrée and enquire if all was satisfactory.
“You could turn up the Nina Simone soundtrack a touch. It adds a certain piquancy and aids as a digestive.”
“By all means, Mr Roderickson. I can actually direct the volume to the speakers closest your table for extra resonance of the occasion. Bon appetit.”
In no time the strains of ‘I Put a Spell on You’ spilled over Jaspers corner position of observance.
As did his glass runneth over, the notion of its always being half full escaping his distracted omniscience.
The Baltic sprats were a tantalising proposition and he paused over them to offer his thanks for such a novel idea, born of nature’s being harnessed by human inventiveness and the ability to can the can. Or split hairs, as it were.
Suzie Q would never do in such a setting, not after Nina S.
Jasper made contemplatively short work of the dish, albeit savouring every mouthful on its way down.
As his tastebuds came to the fore, the peculiar effect was that the flavour didn’t quite seem to match the food on the plate, just as its consistency refused to be confined to the normal strictures of expectation.
They looked lie sprats, but tasted rubbery like escargot marinated in mud. Simultaneously gritty and gelatinous.
Witchetty grubs! Now that is bush tucker without a doubt. But not what I ordered. A fiendish ruse if ever there was one…
Jasper refreshed his glass and washed down the last morsels of what passed for the grubby excuse of his entrée.
He wiped his mouth with his napkin and motioned for Raymond’s attention.
The dutiful waiter was at his tableside in the time it took to take the Lord’s name in vain.
“I trust everything is to your satisfaction this evening, Mr Roderickson.”
Jasper was looking into the middle distance looking rather nonplussed before he snapped out of his reverie and recognised the waiter’s conciliatory voice.
“It would seem that there is a scheme afoot at my expense. I am loath to waste food when so many are suffering from want in this world and this experimental effort of an entrée is no exception. What do you make of it?”
Raymond considered the evidence before him. All was as it had been when he had brought the plate to table.
“The sprats were not to your liking, Sir?”
Jasper let run his tongue over the front teeth of his partially open mouth before replying.
“If they had been sprats, I am sure they would have tasted such as I desired them.”
Raymond looked puzzled.
“If they had been sprats, Sir?”
“Well, they certainly appeared as such on first instance of their being.”
“It would seem their essence was altered.”
Raymond in turn paused to reflect on the ramifications of this statement.
“Their essence, Sir?”
“They ceased to be sprats when they passed the gateway to the paradise that is my palate and became witchetty grubs. A rare delicacy much appreciated by the indigenous tribes of Terra Australis.”
Raymond squinted into the glare of his own perception.
“And yet, Sir, it would seem they remain themselves as offered for your appraisal in the first glorious instant of serving. I can detect no such ‘grub’ as you claim, only the apparently untouched plate.”
Jasper frowned with the realisation of his own mastery.
The first denial.
“I must admit to being a little hasty in recomposing the dish in all its transcendent glory. I’m sure you’ll find that this resets the page, as it were, for what will become the expected standard.”
Raymond scrutinised the plate’s replenished assemblage.
“Mr Roderickson, it would appear that it is I who must admit to being a little hasty in my estimation of the example you have so masterfully refashioned for our culinary edification. I trust the grub was a surprise worthy of our reputation. Should we consider adding it to the regular menu or reserve it for the specials’ list?”
Jasper closed his eyes and slowly nodded in acknowledgement of Raymond’s contrition.
“Duly noted, Raymond. Please be so kind as to give my compliments to Chef Apollyon. And you may return this dish as an exemplar of how sprats should be done. I’m sure he’ll take it in his stride.”
Raymond gulped at the prospect and hesitated before he complied and picked up the plate to swivel on his heel and return to the kitchen.
Jasper contented himself with a note upon the first dish of the evening.
Apollyon will have to do better than that to show me up. Who does he think I am, a second rate ontological critic come redeemer of foodies’ faith in nature’s bounty?
He topped up his glass and looked within.
Raymond could not get passed the maître d unnoticed without a brief explanation for the dish he was carrying.
“Chef Apollyon tried to deceive Monsieur Roderickson with grubs, but he seemed to relish the ruse so much he has returned the favour with his signature take on the dish.”
The maître d turned puce at the prospect of a stoush between food critic extraordinaire and crowned master chef, but realised he could not refuse the gesture. It washim, after all. Their fate hung in the balance and he could not interfere with the spirit of the gastronomical law as handed down, and so with the sweep of a hand waved the waiter through.
Judgement will be passed in the name of him who shall resist the urge to spew forth the rhetoric of spleen and spite. Though he might…
Before he could finish his train of thought there came a thunderous crash of plates that reverberated like a thousand cymbals and what sounded like the deep moaning of a wounded bull, the breath of which blew open the kitchen doors to fill the restaurant interior.
The overhead light fittings swayed in its passing while the patrons had cause for thought, lest they be accused of breaking a noxious wind. Seats were shifted upon, conversation paused and eyes lowered in guilty abasement.
His projection prowess holds sway every time.
Jasper was feeling generous.
He would assuage their guilt and sit in judgment of his fare. But he would remain steadfastly fair in the process…
And so followed the main course.
“Veal stroganoff, just as you ordered, Mr. Roderickson.”
The patrons’ eyes had followed the waiter from kitchen to table, as had their systems olfactory, noses in the air all as they hung on the aroma of the floated dish across the room.
Jasper accepted the proffered dish with his customary grace.
“I bet it is, Raymond. I bet it is.”
Raymond smiled nervily.
“I take it my recommendation to Chef was well received.”
Raymond smiled nervily.
“He was, well, taken aback, Sir. He had never before encountered such a, such a…”
“I won’t say spit it out, but such a ‘what’, Raymond?”
Raymond eyed the plate with purpose. Before answering.
“Well, Chef Apollyon has never conceived of such a twist in the tale of an original like this. He takes it as a challenge to outdo himself and rise above the mundanity of the predictable. Nothing personal, except for his own conscience.”
“I didn’t know he still had one.”
“Oh, he is quite wry, Sir.”
“Let’s not touch upon his humour in undo jest.”
Jasper had noticed a flurry of activity from the other waiting staff as they attended to requests from diners to change their orders.
Raymond was beckoned by the maître d’ to assist in the sudden popular flavour of the moment. It seemed they were asking what the personage in the corner had ordered and whether they too could order the same.
Raymond left Jasper to his meal and went to take more orders for the veal stroganoff.
As plated, Jasper could not fault the dish’s presentation. He had a thing for garnish and the parsley in this instance was superbly appointed and in generous though not garish supply.
The buttered sage pasta glistened seductively under the house lights.
Jasper felt inclined to indulge in a little food porn and take a snap on his smart phone to commemorate the occasion.
And as proof.
Or was it really reproof?
Only the true of heart could say.
He resisted the urge. A most unbecoming habit. And, besides, he didn’t have an Instagram account. Only his blog, which had to abide by strict layout principles and didn’t support images (only imagery of the word).
There was nothing left to do but taste this creation, this concoction of an interpretation of another mind. As humans have history, so too do famous recipes, until their turn comes to be reinvented. Just like man, if he can.
The initial flavours were succulent and rich. As expected.
And as expected, the texture had a mind of its own.
A little too predictable, I fear…
The veal took on the properties and qualities of eel, slithering about Jasper’s all accommodating and consuming ‘cakehole’, as he affectionately called another gift of his gab, and then down the gullet after a sufficient mastication to release their juices.
The spaghetti was the worm that turned, squirming around his mouth and then swallowed whole without a bite, just for the ticklish sensation on the way down, which he rather liked as a mere affect. Points for that.
After applying napkin to lips, Jasper sat back and contemplated the experience.
In an instant he had recreated the dish from scratch and the veal stroganoff reappeared untouched and announced itself anew with aromas that turned heads askew to appraise the critic in all his glory.
Reminds me of the Australian classic, The Magic Pudding. A never diminishing talking pie on legs. Who would have thought?
The reordered dishes were causing a commotion.
The havoc on the floor was accompanied by flames seen to flash and gush forth from the kitchen, accompanied by weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Raymond was beside himself as he resumed his position to receive the verdict.
“Please don’t tell me you resisted the purge. How could you? I have a living to make, you know. I can’t continue this charade without feeling the full force of Chef’s wrath.”
The second denial.
“You can’t ignore the facts, Raymond. I have never tasted a stroganoff quite like it. Eels and worms work wonders together.”
“Please, Sir. You cannot be serious.”
“You seem dubious of Chef’s powers of persuasion.”
“It’s easy for you to say, sitting out here on your own elevated self-presumption. Oh, I can’t believe I just said that…”
Jasper poured himself another glass of wine.
“No need to trouble yourself. I know belief isn’t easy, especially when it’s as compromised as it is these days. Public relations have never been in such peril. But I digress. Please give Chef Apollyon my compliments on yet another fine dish fit to set before me. We don’t want to let it go cold, now, do we?”
Raymond suspected he had gone too far and bowed his head in contrite observance of ritual.
“Yes, Sir. I hope you’ll allow for the tension here this evening. I usually perform at my best when the pressure is on, but I seem to be off my game tonight.”
“Your perseverance is admirable. It has not gone unnoticed. Now, hurry along…”
Raymond picked up the plate and hurried back to the kitchen to have what remained of his insolence stripped off him.
Jasper ruminated on the success of the dish.
Overall textures were a triumph of blind indulgence. As for the stroganoff, you cannot spoil a classic.
He duly made note of his judgement.
From the kitchen issued a thunderous crack as if the very fabric of the earth had been torn asunder.
Not customarily one for dessert, he nevertheless felt compelled to entertain the idea and requested to see the menu again. Having made his selection, aptichye moloko cake, he awaited the inevitable.
Raymond fulfilled his role and followed the prompt on cue.
“I’m sorry to say that the menu should not have lead you to believe that the moloko cake was an option this evening. Would you like to select something else?”
The third denial. Like clockwork crows the cock…
“Raymond, there is nothing more that I’d like than to relieve you of your burden. I’ll pass on the dessert. As much as I’d like to see what a soufflé would do to rise to the occasion. But, I’ll settle for the chance to repay you for your service. Be it known that you are high in my estimation.”
Raymond, for all his aplomb, didn’t know where to look and sheepishly accepted the credit as his due. For, after all, it wasn’t as ifGordon Ramsay’s Hells’ kitchen was thesui generismockery of the universal truth: “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
Raymond had served his time and Jasper would see that he was rewarded.
Ominously, the kitchen had gone quiet.
The diners filled the void with their vocal praise of the stroganoff. This would become an inimitable signature dish in deed.
Before Jasper was able to ask for it (he usually made it a point of integrity not to accept a gratuity), Raymond was explicit in his insistence that the bill be waived at the discretion of the maître d’, who valued loyalty’s precedence over convention. Such a triviality.
Compared, that is, to the reputation of the restaurant and its ranking. He was all too aware of how catastrophic a negative critique could prove for their profession and personal well-being, never mind ambition’s indiscriminately cruel cudgel.
A bad review could be as hazardous as a slippery floor in the kitchen. Not to mention poor standards of hygiene.
Jasper was selfless enough to accept this mark of respect, but without first making it clear that he wouldn’t depart without going ‘backstage’, as it were, in an honourable gesture to personally thank Chef Apollyon and attempt a kitchen makeover.
He insisted on doing the dishes as a soft soap sop to the chef whose reputation could not be sacrificed to a mere ongoing rivalry, however essential it was to universal balance and harmony between the polarities of Heaven and Hell.
Jasper was ushered into the kitchen by a sheepish Raymond.
Chef Apollyon was conspicuously absent. Only the ‘dish pigs’ and sous-chef remained to receive the renowned critic.
They stood back and formed what seemed like a guard of honour with the second-in-command waving a leek as one would a sword held high in tribute to such an esteemed presence.
Or was it an insult? Jasper chose to consider it as a virtuous version of a humorous acknowledgement of such a versatile vegetable.
“I take it you’re from Wales.”
The sous-chef proffered the leek so Jasper could inhale its earthy sweetness. Jasper then permitted the leek to be daubed upon his forehead like a paintbrush back down his nose to nestle in the cleft of his chin.
“Ie. ‘tis true, Sir. Welcome to the inner sanctum. I trust all has been to your liking.”
Jasper stepped back and took in the scene before him.
“Raymond can attest to my utter satisfaction. A most bewildering banquet. I would give Chef my compliments directly if he were so disposed.”
The leek wielding lieutenant looked at the other kitchen staff for any hint of subversion, the merest whiff of contradiction, and considered his options.
“Mr. Roderickson, Sir, you may direct your verdict, vindication or indictment as the case may be, I do not presume to know which will prevail, to the space you inhabit. This place is our consciousness. We stand united and will listen to the consommé that is your wisdom without prejudice. We place ourselves at your mercy.”
Jasper appeared indifferent about such angelic jibes and recognised the pronouncement for the attempt at reverse psychology that it so plainly was.
He looked around at the state of the kitchen and proclaimed it good.
“You know what is equated with an adherence to cleanliness, I can see. I would not want to jeopardise your standards will any ill-chosen words. Permit me to take the liberty to streamline your processes and add a touch of state of the art efficiency.”
The kitchen comported itself with the conviction of the inevitable.
Jasper then worked his magic by transforming the cupboards in the kitchen, containing crockery, glassware and saucepans, into dedicated self-contained dishwashers to reduce the need to stack and re-stack so that they could be washed wherein they were stored.
“A study in time and motion relativity, my awful auspices in aprons.”
The Kitchen staff were stunned by the sheer audacity and brazen innovation.
“Thank you Raymond. I do like to leave my mark.”
At this portentous statement there was a riveting crack, as the very floor on which the assembled stood shook and threatened to buckle beneath them.
Then came a deafening crash from the large walk-in pantry. Another thousand cymbals were joined by a whole host of gongs in greedy apprehension of an unavoidable conflict of interests. Such was the falling-out.
Now the after-party was to begin.
The staff all took a step back, while Jasper held his ground.
The lights flickered and there was a hammering from the water pipes.
A loud clicking of fingers echoed from the dining room as patrons insinuated themselves into the spirit of the fracas.
There was then a great flash from within the pantry, the overhead light fixtures swayed and the plush drapes adorning the walls between the mirrors were rent asunder in grievous sympathy.
His shadow preceded him. Backlit by some unidentifiable light source, Gospodin Anton Apollyon appeared. Head bowed. Solemn in movement.
Jasper seemed to grow a foot taller at the sight of this apparition. He jutted his chin in the chef’s direction with a distinctly piteous air of homage.
Anton stopped at the pantry’s threshold. He patted down the front of his apron and stared at his shoes.
The sous-chef cleared his throat in nervous expectation. The kitchen hands rocked back and forth upon their orthopaedic soles.
Slowly, Anton raised his head to draw eye level with the gathering. Painfully intimidating though it was, his stare held sway with a mesmeric intensity.
No one spoke, but the clicking of diners’ fingers continued.
Anton appeared to lick his lips at the prospect of nothing in particular.
The kitchen hands were heard to swallow in unison.
The sous-chef began to blink rapidly and wiped his sweaty hands on his hounds-tooth patterned pants.
Jasper remained imperturbable in the face of his arch rival for the affections of all good gustatory gluttons - for punishment and reward in equal measure.
Anton appeared to crack under the weight of his self-imposed personage and relented to his perverse notion of self-congratulatory deprecation. A whim, if not a payer.
He was after all the Lord of the Dance.
An imperceptibly formed rictus contorted his face in mad defiance of any fixed hegemony, before he suddenly launched into his acclaimed routine.
His turn at mocking such an intervention was to sample from out of thin air a version of Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five’s song the Message, complete with his death metal vocals on the chorus, “Don’t push me, cuz I’m close to the fridge.”
He turned on his heel in a spin and without hesitation proceeded to jauntily moonwalk out of the kitchen to be met with his patrons no longer clicking their fingers, but unified in a deranged standing ovation, waving their napkins above their heads.
Jasper, the sous-chef, Raymond and the kitchen hands moved to get a better view of the spectacle at the waiter’s station. In the midst of the patrons’ jubilation, the maître d’ and the other waiting staff were transfixed in frozen admiration of their restaurateur idol’s performance.
Once he had done a few laps of the clear floor space in the middle if the dining room, Anton came to a halt and raised his arms in deviant invocation.
All the while Grand Master Flash continued to pump forth from the ether.
Jasper found himself inconspicuously tapping his foot in time to the rap.
Suddenly another crash and flash filled the dining room and Anton was beheld mounted on a summoned replica scale model chariot, drawn by four different coloured miniature horses.
He cracked the reigns across their flanks and took off to ride in ever diminishing circles.
At the centre of his spiralling streak was a sacrificial chopping block made of granite to symbolise the blunting of any ensuing slings and arrows a class action seeking redress for a salmonella outbreak could pitch his way.
The sous-chef was in tears.
“An old favourite, truly, but insurmountable, if you’ll pardon the pun.”
Jasper put a hand on his shuddering shoulder and clasped it in knowing connivance.
Anton Apollyon had achieved such a clip that he was a blur of possibilities turning in upon the outcome at the centre of itself, growing smaller and smaller, fainter and fainter, until he became one with the vortex of original thought. An infinite consciousness.
And then he was gone. Chariot, horses, chopping block and all.
“I am tempted to say a proverbial flash in the pan.”
Jasper turned to Raymond and gently scolded him with his soulful dark eyes.
“You know better than that. He’ll back with a vengeance and we must be ready for him.”
“Was I meek enough?”
“Not if you want to inherit the worth of a righteous opinion, Raymond. Furthermore, a single leek is never sufficient to provoke.”
Raymond looked baffled.
“I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand your ways. I’m better off though, I’m sure.”
“Without doubt, Raymond. Without doubt.”
The patrons had returned to their seats and the waiters duly began to take dessert, cheese and coffee orders.
The kitchen hands and sous-chef promptly returned to the kitchen, while the maître d’ was the epitome of relieved bonhomie.
As much as Jasper tried to put him at ease, Raymond still retained a certain awkwardness in his presence. He went to fetch his overcoat and returned to assist the redoubtable critic to don it like a serviceable aid-de-camp in cloaking his statesman-like culinary calling.
“Do you require a brush for your mohair, Sir?”
“It’s self-brushing, Raymond. Another innovation of mine.”
Raymond gasped in astonishment.
“Will things never cease to amaze you?”
Raymond reddened with self-consciousness.
“I just don’t want to take such demonstrations of your sovereign enchilada for granted.”
Jasper smirked at the allusion.
“Raymond, I wouldn’t dream of it. Your devotion is noted. After all, I wouldn’t want to let any schmear orschism between us threaten our mutual understanding. For that matter, I wouldn’t allow it. Of your free will, of course…”
Raymond nodded perfunctorily.
“Now, buck up. There’s always time for Mexican. It was a revelatory evening. As always, you played your part to a tee.”
“Does that mean you would you like me to accompany you on the links?”
Jasper played through his abiding choice of responsorial emotions and decided not to unduly encourage the overly passionate waiter.
“Perhaps, in time, Raymond. But, more importantly, do you play? My current bagman is doing nicely and I want to give him every chance to shine. Besides, I see a greater purpose for you. A redemptive calling, as it were. Beyond your current station.”
“You are too kind, Sir. I aim to serve.”
“Let’s not mix sporting symbolism, shall we. There’s enough doing the rounds on a succulent secular level to keep us preoccupied for all preliminary eternity. Forgive me. I suspect I have a slight dyspepsia coming on…”
Jasper burped discretely behind his hand.
“Shall I make your reservation for the same time next week, Mr Roderickson?
“Naturally, Raymond. I don’t want to upset the current balance we seem to have achieved in the course of our dining out on the greatest menu ever sold. It would be the height of blasphemy. We must lead by example.”
“Lead on, Sir. Lead on.”
“Yes. Good night, Raymond. See you next week. Oh, and be sure to pass on through the maître d’ my unqualified appreciation for Gospodin Apollyon’s efforts. His artistry is reassuringly beguiling for one who presides over much damnable public scrutiny in this age of such robust cause celebre. He shall overcome, yet…”
“I bid you adieu, Sir.”
Raymond bowed and Jasper took his leave by walking back through the kitchen and exited the restaurant realm via the pantry.