On the left, a rosy-cheeked cook, frightened, panting, biting his lips, looking humble as he can be. On the right, his boss, the balding codger who never thinks they work fast enough around here. Around them, a ring of wide-eyed employees acting like there’s no one to serve, like kids, like school is out already. And on the counter, an affront to any cook who styles himself an artist: Boss Rones has slapped the ladle straight out of Cook’s hand, and the proof is all along the marble in driblets of red-orange. Some days it seems like nobody can cook right by the tyrant.
“You…” Cook’s voice trembles. “You can’t rush art.”
The words seem like they aren’t coming from him. Maybe he’d heard that line on a TV show and he had nothing to draw from that was both dramatic and real. Or maybe his lack of creativity doesn’t matter because his heart is honest and true and the moment Rones bares his fangs and draws forward, ready to harangue like he’s a rabid dog, Cook cuts it short and just takes him by the collar, throws his fist upward and holds him in the air like that, a straight foot off the ground. And Cook isn’t even tall.
Rones kicks around and curses for a moment like he doesn’t know any better, like he hasn’t learned from last week’s encounter. Nobody messes with a real cook, one whose love for the craft could compel him to lead such a spectacle, risk his career twice, and yet in so doing exude that strange logic-cum-charisma that allows him to keep his job. Rones sees the light; with that sparkle that plays in his eyes just a moment, he seems almost like he’s become a cook himself, the man’s apprentice.
The moment Cook drops Rones, all magic fades from him. He dusts himself off, pretending he hasn’t just lost the war, and marches out of the kitchen, letting Cook and his fellow Cooks live another day.
Cook, still trembling, looks to his people and breathes, “You cannot rush art.”
They throw their hands up and cheer. “Huzzah!”
The soup is served five hours later.