Cassandra had the cab driver drop her off at The Palace Diner. Tired, she deposited her shopping bags onto the padded red bench and sank down next to them.
“Any specials today?” she asked, in the mood for something different.
“The chef is making jambalaya. It’s not on the menu.” Khean said. She nodded. “Cornbread?” He asked. She nodded again. He poured her a cup of coffee. “Good memory,” she said.
“Hey, Cal,” Khean walked into the kitchen. “I sold a batch of your jambalaya experiment. You can see if real people like it!”
“Oh…okay,” Cal was surprised. How should he serve it? “Does the customer like spicy or mild, do you know?”
“Una blanquita,” Khean explained, then remembered the hot sauce. “Spicy.”
Cal nodded. “Hey, when did you start speaking English like Mateo?” Khean shrugged. “I told her you had cornbread too, Casper.” Khean grinned and Cal rolled his eyes.
Cassandra pulled her new outfits from her shopping bags. She’d selected mostly white for the effect in the club’s lighting. She raised her cup to Khean as signal for a refill and gazed out the window.
I’m getting too old for this, she sighed. But, the cash…. She liked to carry a month’s take with her. She could do what she wanted. She’d even been able to pay her cosmetology school in full, in advance.
Speaking of which, she sighed again. Her hair highlighting exam yesterday had been a disaster. She’d created knots in the model’s hair, dropped foils and was clumsy enough that her model stopped the procedure. The instructor was outraged. “We have our reputation to uphold!” He relegated her to assisting senior students for the next two weeks.
“We hope you will like the chef’s speciality,” Khean put her meal on the side of the table, away from the white clothes. “With freshly made cornbread.”
“That smells like heaven!” She tossed the clothes in a pile atop the bags. Inhaling the savory steam she gently stirred the sauce, releasing more of the rich aroma.
Cal watched in anticipation from the kitchen.
She skimmed the sauce and brought the spoon to her lips. Oh, wow. She tried the rice and sausage next. Then, the shrimp and tomato. She closed her eyes in concentration, trying to identify the herbs and spices. She sampled the onion and peppers next, and suddenly remembered the cornbread. This is just what I needed. Forgetting her manners she sopped up the juices with the cornbread, pieces splashing into the dish and staining her sleeve. Her hiccups sent Khean rushing over with water, but she didn’t put down her spoon.
“Delicious!” she managed to declare.
Cal broke into a smile that lit up his whole face.
This is also: Sunrise at The Palace Diner, Scene 13
Here is the rest of the story (so far): Sunrise at The Palace Diner