Sara's Kitchen - Chapter One
An Original Composition
© By Drew A. Blanc - JKP
Jerry slowly unlaced his red stained brown suede shoes in the pantry as the rain pounded the metal kitchen roof. It was not needed. It had been a rainy record braking dismal Summer in Colorado. The Rockies were saturated. Many of the regular Summer tourists had taken their vacations elsewhere this year.
It was almost half past eleven on this late July night and his feet felt like they were ready to burst. The double shift had taken him by surprise. He only worked lunch and on weekends, but Sara had called him back tonight. Matt, the night shift waiter had quit that afternoon. He finally left town for that fancy restaurant gig in Denver. Everybody expected it, but it took them all by surprise. Jerry was too tired to excuse him. All he could think about was her.
He wiggled his toes and massaged his arches as he eyed Sara’s award winning red sauce. It was splattered all over his shoes and socks, grotesquely resembling blood. Jerry closed his eyes and listened to the patter of the rain. In the small restaurant the rain was mufﬂed by the laughter and paparazzi of a birthday party for the mayor.
Mayor Krietz was 39 and a drunk. When he was drinking, he insisted that everybody drink. Including Karen, his loving and timid wife.
Jerry had always fancied marrying a gal like Karen. She was attractive, sweet and full of kindness. Henry Krietz had dazzled her with his country wit and boyish charm. “It was a match made in heaven,” he always said, when introducing his wife.
That statement always annoyed Jerry. He didn't care for the boisterous and arrogant mayor. Karen deserved better. She deserved him he thought.
Tonight had truly been a comedy of errors. It had been an unusually slow evening. The dish washer left early, so of course Jerry was elected. Twenty minutes before closing, the mayor’s ragtag crew paraded in, catching both Sara and him off guard. No one called ahead of time to inform them of the impromptu gathering. All seventeen people hungry and thirsty.
At first he was angry, trying to wash the pots and pans, wait tables and still help Sara. But she had a way of taking a nerve-racking situation and lightening it up. Laughing and joking they both maneuvered around in the kitchen like two pinball’s in an arcade game. They were out of control. The kitchen was a mess. It was like Picasso had painted it. Splashes and blotches of deep red and murky white on a canvass of chrome and black tile.
Crackle . . . Boom, lightning struck not more than fifty feet away. Jerry bolted to his bare feet and opened the kitchen’s back screen door. His heart was racing as he surveyed the muddy parking lot. Nothing to report, just more rain and lot’s of it. He sighed and made his way back into the kitchen. Again, his thoughts came back to her.
She was dark haired, brown-eyed and had perfect everything. Born and raised in Little Springs, a small town, Jerry had only seen women like her in the movies or on television.
Wearing jean cut offs’, an over sized sweat shirt and a black leather jacket, she walked in alone tonight. Jerry’s pulse kicked up a notch. He casually made his way over to her and asked how many for dinner.
“It was only her tonight,”she replied, crossing her long legs.
She asked about the special of the night which Jerry knew, but could not remember. He was lost in her big brown eyes.
After a long pause he finally told her it was lasagna, meat or veggie.
She smiled and asked why the black board decoratively displayed linguine with clam sauce for $10.95, pointing to the back of the restaurant.
Jerry knew the special was linguine with clam sauce. He had been the one to write it using three different colors of chalk.
Tony, sitting close by with his wheelchair bound wife‘ Tina, came to his rescue. “Everything Sara makes in her kitchen is the special of the night,” he said with a chuckle, winking at Jerry.
She smiled again and lightly touched Jerry’s arm. “Hell, lasagna, linguine or a bowl of corn flakes would be just fine she said, I’m starving.” Everybody laughed, including Jerry.
Her name is Amanda, Sara whispered to him as he was slicing lemons for ice tea. She and her husband moved into Little Springs just last month. They were from back East. Somewhere off the cape in Massachusetts. Apparently they had money and loved her authentic Italian cuisine. They come in for dinner a couple of times a week. Larry, over at the liquor store told her the husband was ex FBI and retired.
“You going to be okay Jerry?” Sara said with a devilish grin. “I think she likes you.”
“How can you say that Sara? We just met, as he almost cut his thumb. And didn’t you just say she was married?”
“I can tell hon, she continued, ignoring his last comment. I think your tight jeans and short memory caught her eye,” Sara giggled as she pinched Jerry’s behind.
Sara was always teasing him. She loved to flirt with Jerry, because he was so shy. She could make him blush in a New York second. Even though she loved to give him a hard time, Sara has always been Jerry’s private conﬁdant.
When he was just a boy, he would sneak into her kitchen and steal bread. She would try to catch him as he was bolting out the door, but he was too fast. He would run up the side of the hill outside her restaurant and disappear. She had an idea of where he went and one day met him there.
Sara laughed when he turned around alter closing the door to his secret fort. Little Jerry’s tummy had an odd shape to it. The loaves of bread were tucked under his shirt. The surprised shy eight year old boy started to cry. He walked over to her and politely handed over the stolen goods.
Sara told him it was okay and hugged him. The young Jerry could not stop crying. She just held him close and whispered, “It’s okay hon, it’s okay.”
When he could finally speak, he told her how much he liked her home made bread. His family had been to her restaurant a couple of times. He always looked forward to eating her fresh warm bread with butter. If he had too, he could live on both.
She smiled and then remembered this boy didn’t have a father. Driving by the school playground she would sometimes see Jerry playing by himself. Sara figured he was a loner and the old miners’ shack was his personal hide out.
That day was the beginning of their lifelong friendship. They celebrate it every year. Sara would meet Jerry every day after school promptly at three thirty. She always brought two loaves off her bread along and a thermos of milk. One afternoon, she introduced him to her homemade butter. To this day, he still can make a meal out of all three.
For her, Jerry was a Godsend. David, her husband and she could not have children. Jerry had a wonderful mother, but she was fighting a disease. She barely had enough strength to take care of herself, let alone her only son. Sara was his mama love.
The old eighteen eighty’s wood shanty was their secret place. During these times they shared their lives with one another. Sara would tell young Jerry all about her upbringing. He would listen with big ears and take it all in. The strange sounds and places of yester year bouncing around in his imaginative brain.
She was born in Palermo and raised in Chicago. David, her husband and she moved to Colorado in the Seventies escaping the arm of the law. They had started Sara’s kitchen together in nineteen seventy eight. She knew how to cook. Her ﬂair for Italian food won her many awards. It was her homemade sauces, pasta and charm that kept bringing them back. Jerry still loves to hear the details of Sara’s life story.
If it hadn't been for her, he would be without. His mother finally passed away this spring. For the last two years he had been her only contact with another human being. She had cancer and died a horrible slow death. When she was gone, he had no one else to turn to except Sara.
“What am I going to do mama love? I don’t have a formal education and all I know is Little Springs.” His life had centered around his family and he had no intention of leaving town, this was his home.
Even in the nineties she was still a hippie at heart. Her long wavy brown hair was now gray. Her blue eyes were as vibrant as they were thirty years ago. “Why don’t you come and wait tables for me hon?” She suggested.
The rain stopped abruptly just as it had started three hours ago. The sound of lightning had been replaced with Sara’s favorite late night jazz radio station. She entered the kitchen and announced with a loud voice, “The mayor and his entourage have departed, thank you very much. There are tons of dishes to be washed Jer. Let’s get crackin’, I want to get out of here,” she said clapping her hands while sashaying across the kitchen floor.
For some reason, she always sashayed in her kitchen. That is how she worked. Gliding around, ﬂour on her nose, sprinkling a little this, stirring that.
Standing bare footed, Jerry frowned and sighed. Sara glanced at his naked feet and laughed. “Do your tootsies hurt sweetie?” ,
Just then Hobo peaked into the kitchen and meowed. “Hey partner, Jerry, opening the screen door. How is Hobo’s Mojo tonight?” Bending down to inspect the soaking wet plump cat.
Hobo nudged his way into the kitchen.
“I know you like that cat, but you know those health guys don’t approve. Dry and feed him, then out he goes. Okay sweetums?” Sara hollered over Chick Corea’s acoustic rendition of Gershwin’s, “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Always gliding from stove to the fridge. Jerry nodded and picked up the cat.
Hobo was the restaurant’s mascot. Kind of. Last Winter he had found his way into the pantry late one snowy night. Sara locked him in not bothering to turn on the lights before she went home. The next morning, she needed more Parmesan and Jerry found him. Skinny as a rail and near death. Sara suggested some pasta with meatballs.
The starving cat devoured it in three minutes and had a second helping of Fettuccine Alfredo. Slowly, Sara’s cooking and Jerry’s attention brought Hobo back to health. Now, he was a typical cat. Spoiled rotten, fat, purring and indifferent. Hobo was so spoiled, he only ate beef now topped with Alfredo. The cat preferred the cream in the white sauce.
Jerry named him Hobo, because the cat was wearing a red bandanna around his scrawny neck when he found him. It seemed to fit the cat’s personality. Hobo responded to his new given name.
Earlier in the evening Sara asked Jerry to go dancing after closing, but he was not in the mood. He only wanted to go home. It had been a very long day.
Sara liked dancing with Jerry, because he could two step and waltz. As a kid, Jerry learned these dances when he visited his grandparents in Texas. He truly enjoyed dancing, but his feet had a bad case of the hurts tonight. All he wanted to do was dream about her.
With the dishes done, bathrooms spotless and the ice tea put away, he hugged Sara and said goodnight. Locking the back door, he wondered out loud Where Hobo was. Whistling, he searched the damp cold air, but to no avail. His brown suede shoes were soaking wet. Using the kitchen’s sprayer, he had cleaned them off. Sitting now on an old wood stump near his truck, he decided to put them on. Driving bare footed, irritated him.
“Is that your cat over there?” a female said, startling Jerry, just off to his immediate left.
He stood up, “You see Hobo,” his heart beat quickening, her smile coming into focus, recognizing her velvety voice.
“Yes, he is right over there on top of the wood pile,” she pointed with a long slender finger.
Jerry traced the imaginary line from Amanda’s left index finger to the piled up wood. Sure enough, Hobo was nonchalantly licking himself and ignoring them both.
Coming closer to Jerry, she placed herself directly in front of him. “My blazer broke down about two kil, she hesitated, 2 miles from here. Could you help me? I am late for an appointment.”
“Sure,” Jerry kneeling down he quickly ﬁnished tying his right shoe.
“I can take a look at it. It is probably nothing. You know, something minor. Which direction is it?”
“There is no time for that right now. Amanda sounding a little bit annoyed, searching for something in her purse. Is that your truck?”
“Yes it is, why, do you ask?”
With a tinge of urgency her voice. almost betraying her, “is it four Wheel drive?”
Jerry glanced over at his faded sky-blue Chevy truck. Reluctantly, Sara had bought it for him. He promised her it would be payed off within six months and she could deduct the money from his weekly pay. He had to put another three hundred dollars into it before it would run, but it was reliable and yes, four wheel drive.
“Uh huh, it’s a four wheeler, he said. It can get you anywhere around here. Where do you need to go. Is everything alright Amanda?”
Pulling a pack of cigarettes from her purse, she casually lit one of the long slender sticks and exhaled the menthol aroma towards his sensitive nose. “Yea Jerry, everything is ﬁne. I just need a lift.” Flipping long straight black hair to the left over her shoulder.
Bewitched and tired yet wide awake, he pointed the truck East and headed for the state highway. Jerry was oblivious of her intentions. It felt weird, like he was in some sort of a surreal dream like state. Slow slender legs on his mind, he didn't care where they were going, as long as he could be with her. Even though she was married, he thought, Amanda was still his dream girl.
Turning off the highway, four wheels engaged, his truck tackled an ominous dirt road. For the next ten minutes both their bodies bounced around ricocheting off the seat and doors. A couple of times their heads almost hit the head liner. Amanda’s breasts jiggled making it hard for Jerry to concentrate.
“So, are you sure you have been here before,” both of his hands gripped tightly on the steering wheel. Her hands grasping for anything to anchor herself with, “not exactly Jerry, this is the secret around the back kinda way. I didn't want him to see me coming. It is going to be a surprise. Don’t worry, I checked it out on the map, we should be getting close. You might want to slow it down a little bit.”
“Whom are you surprising, your husband?” Silently wishing he hadn't mentioned him, hoping it wasn't.
Jerry could. feel her eyes on him. He couldn’t bring himself to reciprocate.
“My husband, she giggled. I am not married. Who told you that silly?”
A little embarrassed, ‘feeling his face beginning to flush he explained, “Sara and the others saw you in the restaurant with a man on several different occasions. They said you were very affectionate with each other and you wear a wedding band.”
“I see, she snickered, smiling. My, my, my, I have heard about these small towns and the gossip chatter, but now I have truly experienced it myself. Huh, go figure?”
“That gentleman you are speaking of, putting her right hand over her heart, is my twin brother. Of course we are not identical, but we have always been very close. As for the ring, it was my grandmothers wedding band. I wear it to keep strange men away from me. Does that answer your question’s Jerry?” She giggled again.
Almost whispering, with wide eyes Jerry quickly glanced at her. “Is he in the CIA or FBI? Your brother, is he?”
Amanda, stunned, was silent for a moment. Then she lost it completely, laughing so hard she couldn’t catch her breath. Jerry joined in, realizing the story was complete nonsense. They both had a good long laugh.
Calming down some, she sighed. “That’s rich Jerry that is so very rich,” giggling some more.
When the laughter had finally ceased, she responded to his last question. “No, he isn’t, but he does work for the government.”
“Oh yea, really?”
“Yea, he works as a secret service agent for the President.” She said with a straight face.
After a slight pause, before Jerry could respond she blurted out, “NOT.”
Laughing hysterically Amanda almost forgot why she was with Jerry and what the plan was. She was a professional and all of this laughter surprised her. They had spent many hours researching this job and didn't want it to go bad. With expenses adding up the contingency funds were low. She and her brother needed to move on. This score would set them up for a while.
“Stop over there sweetie. I believe the back of the house is right past that big pine. Can you wait for a few minutes?”
“Sure no problem. You need any help?”
Exiting the truck she grabbed a black satchel that Jerry didn't remember seeing. “Naw, that’s okay, be back in a jiff”
She disappeared into the woods in seconds. Jerry rolled his window up. His brown suede shoes were still wet. It was windy and he was catching a chill. At least his feet felt better . . .
Slivers of sun light peaked through the hotel's drawn curtains. Jerry turned over on the hard mattress. She left mad and upset with him. His heart yearned for the starry nights of the Colorado skies. They had been gone from the Rockies now for a month. He missed Sara and all of his friends. He didn't dare call or they would suspect. Amanda had warned him. They needed to be incognito and not give them any ideas to their where a bout’s. It could be disastrous and could impede on the new jobs at hand.
At first, her melancholy, tearful drunkenness had worried him. The job in Little Springs had gone sour, but she was strong. Within a week her shear determination and inner resolve led her back to reality. Jerry had become her surrogate brother. Thrown into this desperate situation he felt it was the thing to do at the time. Occasionally he has second thoughts. But what would she do without him? . . .
Holding his watch in the reﬂective moon light, he realized it had been over an hour since she had vanished into the woods. The surprise was sure taking along time. Maybe he should try to find her. Maybe something is wrong or she was hurt with a sprang ankle. The idea of traipsing around in the woods without a ﬂash light, even with a full moon, was not appealing to him.
He fought it as long as he could. He opened the truck door and set out on the reluctant journey. Where was she? He had no idea where he was going. He would stop every so often and whisper her name.
“Amanda, Amanda are you there, are you all right?”
No response, he kept moving. His feet made a squishing sound in his wet brown suede shoes.
Something shiny caught his attention off to his right. He squinted a little bit trying to focus his dilated eyes. It took on odd shapes as he continued in its direction. Transforming every time’ he moved closer. Apparently, the moon light was reﬂecting off the object he was seeking. At least that was something, he thought.
Suddenly he realized it was actually a small part of a larger and darker mass. It was a cabin. The back upstairs window of a cabin.
Feeling somewhat relieved he headed toward the large wood log structure. She must be inside. This has to be the place she was talking about.
Cautiously, he made his way towards the back of the house. None of the lights were on. Inside or out. It was pitch black.
He cupped his eyes to block out the moon light and peered into the back kitchen window. “No one is here, he silently swore. What is going on?” He whispered to himself.
Slowly making his way around to the left side of the cabin, he found a wood deck. Quietly he pulled himself over the railing and carefully planted his feet. He estimated the outside deck covered one half of the cabin’s parameter and would lead him to the front door.
The hair on the back of his neck was standing up. He sneaked around the corner in one smooth move.
Crouching down under a front window he knew and felt something was wrong.
Why not just turn around and take off he thought. He really didn’t know the woman. After the day he had, he was going way out of his way for her.
Thoughts then turned to her soft, smooth tanned legs. Her Hollywood smile.
He couldn’t just leave her here.
Maybe she had forgotten about him?
She might not even be here?
For the next few seconds Jerry, in his heavily taxed mind, went back and forth. This current predicament, ending a day that seemed never ending, for some reason could not be resolved easily in his mind. He was tired. He needed some sleep.
“Well, might as well take a look,” he said out loud. As before, he cupped his eyes and looked in the front window. It took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust. Searching the bottom floor of the cabin, it seemed empty. It looked like no one had been here for months.
He then knew he had to go in. Maybe Amanda was hurt in there. He opened the front unlocked wooden door and entered. Something didn’t feel right. There was a stench in the air that he couldn’t put a finger on, but he knew it wasn’t good.
Making his way from the living room to the kitchen, he searched for some kind of light switch.
Around the corner he found what he was looking for. With a little hesitation he ﬂlicked it up.
He could only describe what happened next as mind twisting. The one light switch turned on all of the downstairs lights and washed him in a supernatural high intensity white light. His head felt like someone had just stabbed him in the middle of his temple with a screw driver. The piercing pain made him feel instantly sick. The odor was overwhelming. Leaning against a wall, he steadied himself, trying to maintain his sanity. Then he saw them.
Sprawled out on the throw down carpet were two bloody bodies. Their blank eyes staring up at the cathedral ceiling. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Two dead men that look like they had been shot several times in the chest. Jerry, sick vomited, retching all over a glass encased ship sitting on top of a roll top desk. He heaved for what seemed like an eternity. Spewing partly digested milk, homemade butter and bread.
Head spinning he made his way for the door. He had to get out of there. Did Amanda do this? Why would she kill two men in cold blood? Not looking back, running as fast as his legs would let him, he exited the cabin and hurdled the deck railing.
Tree limbs scratched his face as he frantically ran up the hill in search of his truck. Out of breath and almost out of his mind, he found it exactly where he remembered parking it.
Bent over trying to regain some kind of normal breathing he used his right arm to wipe the spittle and mucus from his face.
His heart stopped.
The passenger side door of his truck was wide open. He saw her legs. Falling to his knees, he started to mumble incoherently. His eyes found the wet ground.
She exited his truck.
With each step he heard pine needles crunch under her feet as she slowly walked towards him.
Jerry trembling could feel her hovering.
The gun in her hand. Slender fingers wrapped around the handle.
The index ready to pull the trigger.
Only inches away from him, through tears, the murderess’s white tennis shoes glowed in the moon light.
Gently a hand wiped away some of the salty moisture from his face.
With both hands, Amanda lifted Jerry's face up towards hers. Mascara streaked and smeared, he could see that she had been crying.
In a broken hoarse voice, “are you okay Jerry?”snifﬂing.
He slowly stood up, taking her hands in his, never losing eye contact.
“The younger man was my twin brother Brian,” she embraced Jerry tightly and sobbed.
Then they were silent, holding on to one another, knowing both of their lives had just been changed forever.
The telephone rang. He counted four rings before it was silent again . . .
TWO WEEKS AGO
Jerry listen up. When you telephone me or I you, let it ring four rings, then hang up. Then let it ring three times. Hang up again. Two more, hang up. Pick up on the last ring, which will only be one. If you or I don’t, we know that something is up. Okay sweetie?”
He nodded in understanding . . .
PRESENT DAY CONTINUED
The telephone vibrated again. Three jingles then silence.
Jerry knew it was her. He stared at the glittered ceiling. The swirls of texture painted a picture. It reminded him of his first bicycle.
Ring . . . ring.
It was bright red and had skinny tires. He spent many hours riding around the foothills of Little Springs pretending to be the guy on television with the motorcycle. Always bringing truth and justice every Friday night to the people watching.
Ring, “are you still mad at me?”
“Yes, but that is besides the point. Ready for some fun Jer?”
Rubbing his eyes and yawning, “what kind of fun are you talking about? Dangerous stuff?”
“Only as dangerous as we make it. Just a couple of stops. Maybe a switch. Are you game?”