• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 11
Image by

Doubtless other creatures would have come and gone, also of course

Victor carries a blue stress ball, its contours puffed out where continents might sit, their greens worn away so that his planet earth looks newly drowned, flooded. It is wishing a spell on things, this kneading in the hand that he does, as though constant touching, his tactile erosion, has a well-plotted force of common will. His very human hands, with all their plain fire and illegitimate plunder will destroy this world. He puts his rage in the ball, rubs at the skin with agitated fingers until his emotion is reduced to plain surface, to light and shadow. The ball shines strangely in the cloudless light, blue spattered daubings on its simple sponge. A plastic cake. It reminds him that this afternoon he will contribute to the party with his signature dish, Beau Monde Dip, a cream cheese base laced with thyme and marjoram, with shredded parsley and a sprinkling of marijuana crushed in, carrot sticks ringing upright fences around the edge. His guests will prod at it with forks or celery, respectable farmers conducting mining operations on a minute scale until they slump more relaxed, giggling softly with their sodas or beer.

Allard is cutting meat in strips by the stove, his ½-inch-wide cuts almost perfectly even. The bones and bobbled tangles of connective tissue are slung in a washed-out yoghurt pot, the cartoon illustration of a levitating man in yellow fez and purple harem pants newly splattered with blood that slips quietly down the side. The yoghurt sits pristine in its own ceramic bowl. Garlic powder, saffron and bald onions in another larger glass dish by their side. A warmed pint of skimmed milk, a rennet tablet. Water, fat, curd. The petty qualities of meats and minerals dropped into portions, into newly combined units of fuel value.


Doubtless other creatures would have come and gone, also of course

All the wooden utensils are scorched in increments up their handles: black wood, pale wood, black wood, brown wood, the spoon a rigid striped tail for flicking and division. Allard is stirring constantly, a beige sauce thick and smooth. Buttered noodles, steamed rice. The veal is laid out, hammered, flat and mad.

Cayenne pepper is eaten here in large quantities, with animal and vegetable food. Its tightly stoppered bottles, orange tinted, inspire it even before tasting with a fiery domestic economy. They use it in the evenings, when cream or oil need greater poignancy, when the paralytic effect of flour in their languid weekend guts needs a minor bashing, needs the durable sensation of heat on the palette. They all laugh at Allard, at his idea of preparing sauce, until it arrives in a tin pot at the table and they all but wrestle one another for the spoon. He stirs easily, happily. A duck in water. Allard looks at the piles and sees the calories, sees the substance for building and the substance for regulating. He sees chemicals and the food adjuncts of salt, sugar, acid. He knows flavour is odour and that too much black pepper will irritate a fragile throat.