Saturday, 13 August 2016

Chapter 8 from Wind Chimes

Chrys here.  I stole another chapter from Mr. O and made the mistake of reading it.  This is...its just...I can't bring it to words without swearing and I promised I wouldn't fucking do that.  Oops.  Lets just say my brother, Spence, is a sloot.  That's the nicest I can do.  I probably shouldn't even post this one.  But I promised.  Here it is.  Ugh I have the shivers.

Love ya - Chrys

By the way if you want to read the other chapters just scroll down and you'll find them.

Chapter 8

“Are you okay, Spence?”

As he looked up from the receipts on his desk he found Jessie leaning against the door frame.  Her eyes looked dark.  When she was in a melancholy mood shadows seemed to fall over them giving her that naturally smoky look women paid money to achieve.  She had her arms crossed in front of her, sleeves rolled up to the elbows.  He could barely see the tattoo along her forearm, “candle within the chaos.”  That’s what he thought she was to him.  Then she ended something that could have been special.  He wasn’t sure if he even wanted it, but she ended it without a word to him.  That blew the candle out.

“I’m fine, why?”

“Just asking.”  Her short sun-kissed hair fell down over her brow as she dropped her gaze.

Spencer knew her next move.  She would flick her hair back, smile and the shadow of her eyes would fade away.  Then she’d tell him she would see him tomorrow in her sexy husky voice and he would sit there for a while thinking he should call her back.  It had gone that way for months.

“Spence,” she didn’t lift her head.

His stomach tightened.  He wasn’t going to be happy.

“I’m seeing someone.  We’ve only been on a couple of dates, but I think it’s going to go somewhere.”

Spencer wasn’t sure why he suddenly felt like tossing all of the night’s receipts off his desk and screaming.  He didn’t.  He sat still.  He stared across at her not sure what he was feeling.  Was this anger or jealousy?  Perhaps a little relief.

Jessie flicked her head back.  Her hair flipped up and to the side.  It half slipped back over her forehead.  Her eyes didn’t seem to have that shadow effect any more.  “I wanted to tell you myself before you found out.  You know how everyone talks.  Anyway, the front is all locked up.  I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Spencer mumbled, “night.”  The word barely passed his lips. 

He sat there for a long time staring at the empty doorway.  He wasn’t upset that Jessie was dating.  He was upset because he always thought she would be there for him.  A fall back.  That wasn’t a way to think of someone, but that was what he thought.  And now she wasn’t going to be.

Who was he becoming?

Everything was a mess.  It was more than Jessie.  Even on the line he wasn’t sure any more.  He fell in love with cooking as a little kid working with the rough pub cooks Dad hired that put good food together in a sloppy way, played jokes on each other and were crude and rude even with a ten year old around.  He went to culinary school with the intention of being a Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay.  He graduated school and worked in high end places.  He had dreams.  Then his mom told him Dad was ill.  Spencer went home and started doing his duty as a son.  His father passed and he bought The Alcrest from his mother.  He had dreams then that included the gastropub.  Now things felt like they were imploding.  He couldn’t control anything.  He couldn’t even control himself.

Jessie had been part of those dreams.  He had wanted her to be.  He didn’t always tell or show her though.  Something was always in the way.  He was.

Chrys was part of the dream too.  She was his sister.  He loved her, however at the moment he didn’t want to be anywhere near her.

Somehow Spencer found himself in his truck driving the Middleton streets after sending a text asking a friend if he could come over.  He didn’t want to be home laying in the bed he had shared with Jessie.  All he would do there would be to think about what bills needed to be paid, what he couldn’t pay, how long they could last the way they were going.  While trying not to ask himself if Jessie was with him?

He maneuvered his truck around a mini-van and stopped next to the curb.  What was he doing?

He stepped out into the cool air.  Something was wrong.  This whole thing was wrong.  He had that eerie feeling that he needed to turn around.  He was too afraid of what would be there.

It was a nice neighborhood of homes and up-kept lawns.  Average looking automobiles sat in driveways and on the street in front of average looking houses.  A few yards had dimming solar powered lights.  Garden gnomes stood vigil around a couple flower beds and gardens.  The front yard of the house he was at had recently been mowed.  That was all the upkeep there was.  A sign in the yard and in a second floor window announced apartment for rent.  The air was chilly.  Sweater weather, as his mom would say.  You could almost feel the rain coming.

He knocked on the front door.

Spencer felt a bead of sweat run down from his temple.  He took a deep breath and let it out.  The door opened.  He held his breath.

“Hi,” Hanni said.  She sipped red wine from a glass before holding it out for her guest.

Spencer took it and swallowed a healthy amount.  Hanni had cleaned off her make-up and had changed into shorts and a thin tank-top cut-out enough on the sides to expose everything underneath.  The moment the cool air hit her, her nipples pressed against the fabric.  Even without all of the outer coatings she looked great.  Long – thin legs, breasts that were a lot smaller without the gel push-ups (they were more approachable) and her hair falling free around her face and over her shoulders.  She wasn’t the seductive waitress trying to shock and get a bigger tip.  She was just a woman.  He handed the wine back to her.  The French tipped nails tinked against the glass.

Hanni wasn’t sure why he was there.  He just said he want to talk.  “Do you want to come in?”  Her nose scrunched as she sniffed.

No, he didn’t.

His left hand cupped her face as the other grasped her waist and pulled her to him.  Their bodies and mouths met at the same moment.  He kissed her tasting the wine on her thin lips.  Moist tongues began to battle.  His thumb gently caressed her cheek.

She could feel the hardened calluses against her skin and the twitching of his growing erection against her stomach.  She slipped her hand beneath his coat pulling him closer.

Spencer walked his hand up her body slipping it in the side cut-out of her tank.  He didn’t want to think about the restaurant or Jessie.  He sure as hell didn’t want to think about his sister.  He just wanted to feel.  His palm cupped Hanni’s bare breast.  His thumb caressed her nipple hardening the erection.

She put the wine glass in his other hand.  Her fingers grabbed the elastic of his pants and found the strings hanging loose.  Chef pants were easy to get in and out of.  Her white tipped nails scratched his lower belly.  His abs tightened.  The back of her fingers ran over his flat stomach.  “You don’t have to be so gentle with me,” she said and slipped a hand inside the black pants grabbing what pulsed inside.  She was surprised he went commando.

His breath caught.

“We should go inside.”  He squeezed her firm breast tight enough she let out a gasp.  Her hand stroked.  He felt his pants slipping.  “Someone’s watching.”  Was that panic in his voice?

Hanni peaked around him.  There were cars parked on both sides of the street.  Nobody was around.  “Who’s watching?”

“Someone.”  He kissed her again and tugged on her lower lip with his teeth.  “Someone’s watching.  That’s all I know.”  He was smiling.  That was new.  He nudged her back.

Hanni pushed his pants down.  They dropped to his knees.  The air chilled his ass cheeks.

“What are you doing?  Hanni!”

She took hold of his shaft and guided him in.  “You have to let go, Spencer.”

He threw his arm out.  The fingertips barely hit the door making it swing shut.

~  *  ~

A year ago Spencer was more relaxed.  There were still the problems of staffing and bills and not having enough customers to be overly comfortable, however the financials were in the black.  They made enough at the gastropub for him to have a little extra every month.  Then there was the headless body cooked in the oven.  The ovens were replaced by an old friend of his fathers who was also the alleged leader of the Irish Mafia in Middleton.  That brought its own news stories.  One thing lead to another which lead to another which lead to Spencer no longer being relaxed.  First he started making sure he was downstairs when the baker arrived.  It was more because she was afraid to start the ovens.  Then after the summer he started staying late to count the day’s receipts.  Usually that was Jessie’s job.  He casually took it over until it was an every night thing.  Up before dawn.  Bed sometimes around midnight.  Working out was something he didn’t bother with any more.  He was still in good shape because he was eating very little.  A few times a week he got away from the restaurant to do something else.  A couple hours each week when he could try and relax, but it was all still there in his mind.

It was in the early morning when everything hit him.  He would wake and stare at the ceiling as everything came to him and he realized how screwed he was.

Today was fish market day.  He had to be down at the docks by 5:00 am to get good buys and hopefully beat the other city chefs.  Even Spencer’s menus had gone in a different direction.  He used to make a new one almost every day.  Now he was just rotating recipes.  He hated it.

“Where are you going?”

He didn’t even have his feet on the floor.  “I’m going to the fish market.”  He pushed the blankets off of him.  They were rapidly replaced by fingers with French tipped nails.  She traced the white scars that remained from being tortured.  “Go back to sleep.”

“Give me a kiss first.”

Spencer turned back and lowered himself until his lips met Hanni’s.  He was one of those people who always felt dirty after sex.  After his nights with Hanni he often felt like everything was wrong.  Their tongues wrestled.  Her nails scratched his back.  Finally she released him and he got up.  It was more like he pushed away until she let go.

As far as he knew nobody at the restaurant knew about this relationship.  His sister would be pissed and he wasn’t sure how Jessie would take it.  Everything had just sort of happened.  It wasn’t an everyday thing.  It was more of an “as you need it” thing.  Yeah, that made him feel so much better.

After he was dressed in last night’s chef pants and Deadpool T-shirt he took a look back at the bed.  Hanni was there naked above the blankets face down.  Her blond hair was tossed around her head.  Her arms lay at her sides and her long legs were apart.  The heart shaped buttock was extremely inviting.  At night he wanted to feel her lips on him and be inside her.  During the daylight hours the idea of screwing her – just the idea – made him feel filthy.  It was still dark out however.

He quickly left the apartment.

On a good day the fish market had a festival attitude.  No matter the weather the coffee truck was in the corner of the parking lot before you walked down onto the docks.  There was usually people calling out what they had for sale, music, people cooking different fish items, chefs and restaurateurs fighting with other market owners for the best items and just regular folk looking to get a fish and see what it was all about.  That was on a good day.  This morning the rain had been pouring for hours.  Only the diehards would be out today.  The coffee truck was still open though.

He parked across the parking lot from where the coffee truck was.  A walk in the rain would do him good.  Wash away the cobwebs.

Spencer wrapped his hands around a Styrofoam cup as he headed down to the docks.  It didn’t really smell fishy as you would think.  It smelled of the salty sea.  Fishermen put their catch in big bins of ice or lined them up nicely in Styrofoam boxes.  He took his time walking around and talking to the fishermen and dealers.

“Early bird gets the worm, Spence?”

He knew that voice.  There goes the relaxation.  “That’s the idea, Garrett.”  Spencer had graduated the Culinary Institute of Canada with the chef of Terre Rouge.  “How are you doing?”

“Pretty damn good.  Restaurant is full every night.  My wife is pregnant.  It’s all pretty exciting.  You?”  It was like he knew everything that was crashing in Spencer’s life.

“I’m doing well.”  Spencer sipped at his coffee.  He felt Garrett’s eyes on him.

“You look ruffled around the edges.  That either means a good night or a bad one.”  His laugh was so fake.

When Spencer smiled his dimples showed.  He looked around hoping to find someone else to talk to.  It wasn’t that he didn’t want to talk to Garrett, but every second day he heard or read something good about Terre Rouge and the “chef on the rise.”  They may have graduated from the same place, but most definitely took different paths.  “I hear you pilfered some of my staff.”

“Oh come on.  They came to me, Spence.  I’d never go out looking to steel your crew.  Look, why don’t you come by Terre Rouge.  Bring your sister.  My treat.”

“Maybe I will.”  Spencer didn’t want to offer the same thing.  His friend had expensive tastes and wouldn’t feel a twinge of guilt fulfilling them on Spencer’s dime.

Two servers had left The Alcrest for the new fancy restaurant with its high prices and small portions.  People kept telling Spencer to raise his prices, but that wasn’t the idea of The Alcrest.  Great high end food at affordable prices in a friendly atmosphere.  At least that was the original idea.  He remembered arguing with his father after coming back from culinary school that the food needed to be elevated to more than deep fried and grilled.

Spencer bought an 80lb halibut from Hans, his main supplier, along with a box of haddock.  The big halibut he could fillet and portion himself to the size he would like and use the carcass to make a nice broth.  The small haddock would be great for beer battered fish and chips.  He paid half the price and convinced Hans to come for dinner to pay for the rest.

He could probably go to the butchers down the street from the restaurant for some cheap cuts of meat, grind them up and make his own sausages for bangers and mash.  An English themed menu could be fun.  A tribute to his Dad’s pub days.  This was why he liked coming down here.  It gave his mind a chance to relax and his creativity to bloom.

As he helped Hans’ son lift the plastic tub of halibut into the back of his truck Spencer was thinking of how he could pan sear it in butter.  Maybe put it with asparagus or a medley of spring vegetables and new potatoes.

He opened the front door.  He could do a shepherd’s pie for the menu.  Simple.  Classic.

“What the fuck!”  Spencer leapt from the truck.

His shoes shuffled on the wet pavement.  His heart raced.  One hand still held onto the open door.  Rain splashed against it and the seat inside.  With wide eyes he looked around.  There was nobody near him.  Nobody was watching.  Hans’ son was walking away almost to the coffee truck.

Spencer looked inside the cab of his truck.  It was a twin cab.  The seat in the back was folded down so that he could store groceries on it.  There was a string stretched from one back door to the other.  He had never seen that before.  He also never saw what was hanging from it.

The two arms were tied at the fingers.  The nails had yellow polish on them.  Between them was a foot.  The string was tied to a toe.  On the far side was a ball of blond hair.  The strands hung down over what he assumed was a head.  The hair was more dirty than blond.  As he stared it turned slightly and he saw a milky eye staring back at him.  The wind blew into the cab making the body parts swing and bounce against each other.  Blood dripped from the hacked joints.  Even with the rain falling he heard it land.  Drip.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Chapter 6 and 7 of Wind Chime ... Book 4 in The Alcrest Mysteries

Hi everyone.  I snatched some more chapters from Lorne.  These ones creep me out (well not the part about Sloane - she's hot).  I hope you enjoy.  If you haven't read the other chapters look back through the posts.  The Chapter 5 one has links to all the others.

Love ya - Chrys
Chapter 6


“My brother’s an ass!  That looks nice.” 

“No, g’day?  Nothing like that?”

Chrys looked at her girlfriend with innocent puppy eyes.  “I said that looks nice.”  She paced around the room.  Chrys didn’t even bother going upstairs to the apartment.  She stormed out the back door of the restaurant, circled around the front of the building and ran across the street to Skin Junkies Tattoo.  She hoped Spencer saw her, but the blinds were down.

Sloane put her concentration back into the tattoo she was putting on a man’s bicep.  The Australian had started to work at the tattoo parlour last summer and both women fell for each other.  Chrys had been in relationships with both sexes through her twenty-six years.  She still wasn’t certain which way she would end up going and sticking with.  The last time she dated a man he ended up being a killer.  She was happy with the way things were in the moment.

“I know you’re dying to tell me, so go ahead.  Why is your bro an ass?”  Sloane’s accent was thick and lovely.

“He just is.  He thinks the restaurant’s all his, so he does what he wants.” 

The hum of the tattoo machine mixed with the dance beats coming from a phone hooked up to speakers.  The room had white walls with copies of Sloane’s work tacked all over.  Chrys’ chrysanthemum tattoo was in the top right.  In the corner behind the artist was a black and turquois toolbox just like the giant ones you would see in a mechanics garage.  Two shelves held every colour of ink you could imagine.  Sloane looked up.  “He is the owner, isn’t he?”

“Whatever.”  Chrys’ arms flew out at her sides.  “That’s not the point.  It’s called The Alcrest Gastropub.  Alcrest.  I’m an Alcrest.  Maybe not in blood but in name I am.  I should get a say in what goes on there as much as he does.”

“But he’s the owner,” Sloane tried to keep her smile hidden as she worked on her art. 

If asked the guy in the chair, who looked like he would never be caught in a tattoo shop let and was confused to what was going on, would have had a difficult time deciding which one was better looking.  Chrys had the girl-next-door look going for her while the tattoo artist had an androgynist beauty augmented and enhanced by several tattoos on her body.

“Whose side are you on, Sloane?”

“I’m not on anyone’s side.  He’s your brother and at that restaurant he’s your boss.”

“Probably not after tonight.”  Chrys went over what happened across the street.  “And I just left.  He probably doesn’t even know I’m not coming back.  I don’t care.  I don’t need the money or anything.”  Chrys couldn’t stand still.  She felt her phone vibrate in her back pocket.  It was probably going to be somebody at the restaurant.  Where are you?  Are you coming back?

“Did you tell him about your other job?”

“No!  God no.  He’d kill me if he knew where I was working.  He’s always downstairs before I leave, so I don’t even think he knows I go to work every day.  There’s no reason he should be upset about my job.  It’s not like its illegal or anything.”

“Tell him then.”

Chrys didn’t speak another word about it.  Spencer would insist she quit and she had enough of him running her life.  She was independent and hated anyone telling her what to do.  She had to do something if all she was doing was waitressing.  The dancing – she had gone about as far as she could in this city teaching a few nights a week at the Elizabeth Frances Dance Studio.  Roller-derby – she wasn’t much into it any more.  Modeling and acting – she wasn’t really into those either.  The thing that gave her the biggest rush lately was investigating murders and strange occurrences.  Her new boss gave her the information on the dead bodies, but she did tell her brother she wouldn’t look into it and she didn’t feel right going back on that.  Even if he was a dick.

Chrys bent down to look at the design developing on the arm.  It was a dragon’s body almost tying itself into a knot.  “Do you want to go clown searching tonight?”

“Alright.  I’ve got another hour here if you want to come back.”

“Shiny!”  Chrys knew her brother was probably busy.  Especially since he had become one of those chef’s that insisted on doing everything himself.  The street out front had a few cars and the parking lot in the back was a third full.  She wouldn’t have to run into him if she took the back stairs.  She quickly changed her clothes and gathered the dogs to take them for a walk.

She carried Breeze, her Chihuahua, down the stairs while Spencer’s bulldog, Bullet, took each step one at a time pausing on each step before attempting the next one.  As soon as they all hit the ground Breeze took off to the end of her leash.  Bullet was already panting and trudged along beside Chrys.  She took them into the side street behind the restaurant.  The area was residential with a few streets of businesses.  It was probably not the best place to have the restaurant, but The Alcrest and most of the small businesses had been there a long time.  Sooner or later it would be over for them.  She hoped for later.

As the street lights came on she headed for home.  The only time she stopped was to give someone directions.  It was a much different neighborhood than what she worked in.  That place was not safe at night.  Her home neighborhood was fine.

Chapter 7

“Can you give me a hand?  I’m trying to find 435 Sc-scoble Avenue.”  I don’t smile.  People worried about finding where they need to go don’t smile.  “I turned somewhere and I’m lost.” 

If you drove a mini-van you were less intimidating.  If you only rolled the window down half-way you were being a little wary.  You had to be unassuming.  You had to make them think you were being cautious of them.  A baby on board sticker never hurt.

“Sure.”  The woman turned away from me to point.  My ruse worked.  “Go down here to Pearson and turn right.” 

I don’t listen.  I look.  I’m aware of how she moves.  She has muscle and good reactions.  She’d put up a fight.  I see the scar on her upper arm and her misshapen right earlobe.  I see the curves of her body.  I could easily stun her now and get her in the back of the van before anyone would notice.  The one dog would yap.  The other is fat enough to make a good steak.  If I left the dogs someone would notice.  Someone would call the police.  A search would start.  That wasn’t how I played the game.  She isn’t who I want anyway.  She wouldn’t scream.  And I’m not a fan of dark meat. 

“I think to get to 435 you hang a left on Scoble.  Pretty sure.”

She doesn’t recognize me.  Yesterday she looked at my ticket, gave me her best welcoming smile and told me to climb on board and have a seat.  She looks right at me and doesn’t see through my human camouflage.  It’s always the pretty ones who can’t see.  That’s what makes them easy to take.

 “Thank you.  N-nice looking dogs.  Have a nice night.”  Now is the time to give her a smile and an awkward wave.

I drive away and in the rear-view mirror can tell she doesn’t look at the license plate of this simple family vehicle.  She doesn’t even think twice about it.  Why should she?  It’s just a nice night in a nice neighborhood.


Monday, 27 June 2016

Chapter 5 of the 4th Alcrest Mystery...with a special surprise!!

OMG!  Post #100 and I'm stealing it from Lorne.  Chrys Alcrest here with another chapter.  Everything's getting a little crazy.  My brother is becoming a real jerk.  I hope you're enjoying reading this story and seeing what's going on in our lives.

Oh if you look after the chapter you'll find something I stole off of Lorne's phone.  Hey, if he puts his password the same place he puts me then it was bound to happen.  His friend played around with some cover ideas, so take a look and let me know what you think.  Just don't tell Lorne.  I don't want him to get mad and kill me off or something.

In case you missed them here are the links to the other chapters.  Love ya - Chrys

Prologue                                  Chapter 1
Chapter 2                                Chapter 3
Chapter 4

Chapter 5


“I have news!”  Chrys suddenly appeared on the far side of the pass.

Spencer looked up from the plates he was about to slide under the hanging heat lamps above warmed tiles.  The hand written orders passed one way and the food passed the other, hopefully never staying long under the lamp.  “Do you know what time it is?”  He was getting the strangest feeling of Deja vous.

Chrys put her hands on the warm tile along with her billfold.  The ring on her thumb tinked against the tile.  She was dressed in tight black trousers and the black dress shirt of the server’s uniform.  The top two buttons were open.  Her hair was tied back.  “I have news about Leigh Park.”  Her full lips formed into a bright smile.  “I got an ID on the victim.”

He ignored what his sister was saying.  “It’s almost seven.  We have reservations.  You were supposed to start work at five.  Izzy, foods up.”

Chrys’ hands dropped.  She stepped back to let the server (who probably arrived on time for work) to get her plates.

As he passed the plates across Spencer eyed the billfold his sister left on his pass.  It held her book of order chits, all orders were hand written, and probably a few pens.  He hated them leaving stuff on the pass.  Right now he despised his sister leaving anything anywhere.

Izzy said, “Fire table twelve,” before walking away.

“Thank you,” Spencer responded.  “Fire striploin medium, penne with butternut squash, Alcrest salad.”  The other cooks called out that they had heard the order.  “On the pass in eight minutes.”

“Don’t you want to know who the poor bastard was?”  The warmth of Chrys’ face had melted away.  “There were two victims by the way.  They identified the head and limbs, but one leg didn’t belong to him.  Not unless he had three or one majorly deformed penis.  It was a woman’s leg.”  Spencer had gone back to cooking.  She wasn’t even sure if he could hear her over the buzz in the quarter filled room, the noises the cooks made and the sound of the exhaust fan above the equipment.  “Come on.  I got this info even before the press.”


Chrys smiled.  He was getting the mystery itch.  “His name was Joey Love.  He had been arrested for drug possession, so they got an identification quick from the fingerprints.”

“I meant, who gave you the info?”  Spencer had dropped the penne noodles in the pot of boiling water on the back burner.  He had butternut squash pasta sauce warming in a sauté pan.

“A friend.  I have friends who tell me things.”

Spencer stared at his sister.  His fingers gripped the butcher’s-block counter top so hard they hurt.  “I thought you weren’t going to be looking into this.  You said you wouldn’t.”

“I can’t stop people from telling me things.”  Miss Innocent.

“Order in.”  Hanni put a chit on the pass.  “Are you working tonight, Chrys?  I’m supposed to be bartending, not serving your tables.”  She wore the same shirt as the other servers with the obvious addition of a gel push-up bra and a mini-skirt, which barely hid anything, instead of the trousers.

“Whatever.  You get bigger tips this way anyway.  You have a reason to show off your ass too.”

“I’d rather be behind the bar getting a view of your brother’s ass.”  Hanni put her nose close to Chrys’.

“You can keep your eyes and claws off of him.”  The two stared at each other a long moment before the blond walked away.  Chrys kept staring at her.  She couldn’t remember the reasoning behind saving her life in the past.  As she looked at her brother she wondered if he had heard everything.

Spencer turned back to his sister.  He had heard every word.  She had promised things and was going back on it.  They weren’t kids any more, but even in adulthood promises had to mean something.  Plus she was now getting into his personal business.  His eyes dropped. 

He reached back and grabbed his tongs from the oven door.  They were an extension of a chef’s arm like metal lobster claws.  The tongs grabbed the billfold.  With a flick of his wrist the leather bound folder flew into the air.  Pens shot out.  The chit bills fell free.  The entire mess hit his sister’s arm before dropping to the floor.  Pieces of paper road air waves under the closest tables.

Chrys stared at him.  Everyone was probably watching her.  She had to control her breaths.  She had to control her emotions.  Her teeth clamped down on her lip hoping the pain would stop her from crying.  She dropped to her knees and started gathering everything.  She had to crawl to get chits under the closest table.  She could feel Hanni laughing at her.

“Get to work,” was all she heard from the other side of the pass.

Chrys got to her feet.  Her entire body shook.  She tried counting.  As she saw Spencer’s blue-green eyes she forgot what came after four.  Her hand flicked out.  The billfold Frisbeed over the pass and toward her brother’s face.  He was fast enough to block it, but that just sent the papers doing their dance onto the butcher-block counter and kitchen line floor.  One chit landed on the stovetop and burst into flame.

Yeah, everything was going to hell.


Saturday, 18 June 2016

Chapter 4 of the 4th Alcrest Mystery novel

Hi, it's Chrys this time.  I've been able to snag another chapter of the 4th Alcrest novel...tentatively titled Wind-Chimes.  I guess we should have told you a while ago that these chapters could have spoilers if you haven't read the other books.  Especially since book 3 isn't out yet.  Rumor has it that one is going through a small re-write with possibly even a title change.

In case you missed the previous chapters in this 4th book please click on the links here.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

Now to continue with Chapter 4.  Please comment after the chapter with your thoughts or go on Facebook and let Lorne know what you think.  Readers are so needy.  I have to walk Breeze and Bullet, so I'll talk to you again soon.  Love ya - Chrys

Chapter 4

Jessie pulled her yellow Volkswagen Beetle in beside Spencer’s truck.  She took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly.  For almost the past year walking into The Alcrest had been increasingly difficult.  There were good times of course, but those were becoming increasingly difficult to recall.

“Jessie!”  Gordie sat outside the back door to the restaurant on a turned over bucket.  His large frame seemed comical on the pail.  “You missed a crazy night last night.”

“I heard.”  She glanced up the outside wood stairs that went to the apartment above.  “It’s all on the radio.  Did you really find a dead body?”

“Parts of one.  There was a head and arms and I swear there were three legs.”  He took a drag from a rolled cigarette.  Gordie had a bushy beard of the same copper curls as his hair that was currently underneath a yellow bandana.  He tossed the smoke on the ground and crushed it with the toe of his kitchen clog before pushing himself up.

“That better have been just a cigarette.”

Gordie smiled.  “I save the fun stuff for after work.”

The back door lead into the dishpit back room of the restaurant.  The unique thing of this restaurant was that the kitchen was out in the dining room.  The back was the dish area, a small prep table, the walk-in cooler and the open doorway into the chef office.  Most everything in the back was stainless steel with white tile on the walls.  Everything easy to clean.  A shelf above the table held several dry good like noodles and rice.

The cooler door opened and Spencer stepped out with two plastic containers in his hands.  He looked at the two of them as he crossed and dropped the containers on the pile of dirty dishes.  He did not look like he was in a good mood.  His eyes passed over Jessie and fell on his sous chef.  “Who made the salmon marinade?”

Gordie shrugged his shoulders.  “I did, I guess.”

“It’s sour.  I can’t use it and the pieces of salmon that were in it are ruined.  It’s dated three days ago.  What went wrong?”  Spencer’s voice was raised.  “This should be good for a week, at least.”

“I don’t know, man.”

“Did you use the recipe?”


Spencer bit his lip.  “Did you read and follow the recipe or just go from memory?”

Jessie slipped into the office to hang up her coat and get out of the line of fire.

“I did what I always do.”  Gordie plucked his apron from the edge of the dishpit table – nobody ever wore them outside.

“Did you read it from the recipe?”  Spit flew from Spencer’s lips.

“Spencer, calm down,” Jessie said.

Spencer held a finger up toward her.  He never let his eyes leave Gordie.  “The recipe is there for a reason.  It’s sour after three days, so something went wrong.”  He’d never bitched at his sous chef like this before.  The Sous Chef was his second in command.  He knew as much, if not more, than the chef and could easily stand in when needed.  Spencer didn’t like getting angry at anyone, however it was becoming his go-to response.  “Just follow the recipes.”

Jessie waited for Gordie to agree and head to the dining room.  “Is something wrong, Spence?  I’ve never heard you talk to him like that.”

Spencer and Jessie had not really been a couple since around Christmas.  She did come upstairs once in a while, but never stayed overnight.  Last summer she had aborted their child and his anger had been growing ever since. 

He couldn’t get his thoughts straight.  “I’ll talk to my staff however I want to.  That includes you.”  He stared right at her.

Jessie stared back for a long moment.  Her eyes seemed to fade into shadow.  Her lips moved as if she was about to say something.  She pushed them together, turned and marched down the hallway.

With head down Spencer followed her.  Nobody got it.  This was his place and he had to find the ways to make it work.  He didn’t like getting mad, but sometimes you had to take that path.  He was their boss, not their friend or lover.

The Alcrest was basically still the same as when his father ran it as an English pub.  When Spencer took over he put the focus onto the food, got rid of the old-timers who’d sit there all night nursing the same mug of beer, brought in local artists work on the walls and singer-songwriter’s to perform and catered to a younger more sophisticated clientele.  It worked for a while, but the economy and having a headless body burnt to a crisp in an oven put a damper on things.  Some staff left.  Quite a few clients tried elsewhere.  A few of the groups that met there on a regular basis stopped being so regular.  He didn’t charge them anyway.  He did miss the drinks and food they would purchase, however.

Passing through the hallway with the bathrooms they came out into the open dining room.  The hostess stand with a glass baking display was the first thing you came to.  A baker that had worked for Spencer’s father came in every morning before the place was open to make muffins, cookies and other goodies for the morning crowd.  Today’s muffin special was orange-cranberry.  Her fresh banana bread was almost gone.  The only meal time that was still successful was the morning commute to work and Spencer was certain that was just because of the baking.  The kitchen and small bar ran along one wall with a barrier and walkway keeping it from the tables and chairs which made an L shape around them.  In the opposite corner there was a small stage for the local musicians on Friday’s and Saturdays.  Off the main room was the Frame room.  It had couches and a bookshelf with books and board games.  It got its title from the wall of mostly open window frames connected to each other and suspended from the ceiling.  There was another door there leading into the private dining room for groups or meetings.  It hadn’t been used in a while.  The air had the smell of baking, garlic and that grill smell from the charbroiler.  Spencer loved it.  This was home to him.  This was where he spent his youth instead of skateboarding or video games.  He learned how to tell the difference between rare and medium stakes and that well-done was an affront to the cooking Gods before how to ride a bike.  He had made it more modern while still keeping the classic feel.

It was almost 11:00am.  They only had three customers at the moment.  Two people were playing a game in the Frame room and Mr. O was sitting by the window with the blinds at half-mast.  He’d probably be there most of the day writing in his notebook.  In a half hour they would open for lunch and hopefully fill half the tables.

“How’s everything going?”  Spencer ignored his former girlfriend and stepped through the thin opening into the kitchen.  The space between the cooking equipment (stove range, deep fryers, and charbroiler) and the butcher’s-block countertops was called The Line.  Only the cooks entered the hot, violent, magical place.

Ranger gave the chef a nod.  Sometimes that was the best anyone could get out of the skinny man.  He had his Alcrest cap down low over bushy eyebrows.  His chef jacket looked too big for his body and was buttoned all the way up to his neck.

Spencer’s fit just right.  He wore the short sleeve one with the top button open.  It showed off his athletic arms and the tattoos on both forearms.  “It’s good?  This the Pico de Gallo?  These cuts have to be more precise.”  His voice was raising again.  His fingers raked through the insert of diced tomato and onion.  A few were bigger than they should have been – as far as French culinary standards.  “Do you know what they’d do to this in culinary school?  They’d tell you it’s shit and throw it out making you do it again and again until it’s a perfect brunoise.  You know what that is right?  Three millimeter cubes.  Where’s the jalapeno?  The cilantro?  The lime zest?”

Ranger put his knife down and twisted his hands into his black pinstriped apron.  “I didn’t get to them yet.”

With a torn piece of paper towel Spencer wiped his hands off.  “You have to go faster.  We open in thirty minutes for lunch.  Tequila shrimp tacos are on the menu.  We need this done.  Is the shredded lettuce done yet?”  Spencer tipped his face to the side trying to look in his cooks face.

“Yes, Chef.”

“Is the slaw done?”

“Yes, Chef.”

“Then we just need this done?”

“Yes, Chef.”

“Get it done then.  I’ll give you ten minutes.”

“Yes, Chef.”  Ranger brought up a bowl with a handful of jalapenos, limes and cilantro from under the countertop.  He started seeding the jalapenos right away.

Gordie and Morgan watched quietly from their stations.  As Ranger went back to work so did they.

Spencer remembered seeding and cutting jalapenos and other hot peppers for the cooks when his father ran the place.  None of them told him to wash his hands before going to the bathroom.  They all had a good laugh at his expense.  He couldn’t remember the last time someone pulled a practical joke on anyone.

At 11:45am with no customers, even the board game guys left, he went to his office.  The paperwork was done for the week.  All of the staff was getting paid.  Most of the vendors would get what they were owed.  The butcher was going to have to be pushed back.  Spencer had talked to the owner about him going in the butcher shop a couple times a week and working off what he owed.  One of the fishermen he got salmon from was going to bring his wife in for a free meal to pay for last week.  Even though some of the fish was ruined that wasn’t his fault.  Spencer wasn’t sure what he was going to do this week.  He estimated he was losing two to three thousand dollars a month.  Something had to bring this around.

After 12:00pm Spencer went out to the kitchen to see if they needed help.  Two tables of two.  That was it.  He stepped into the kitchen to hear the end of Gordie’s story.

“I swear the woman was so dry from her tan that she looked like an over baked salmon.”  He leaned back with his backside propped against the counter.  Ranger stood with his hands in his pockets and Morgan was behind the cold-side table straightening things that didn’t need straightening.  “I swear if you cut her open dust would have come out.”

Aquamarine eyes surveyed the room.  Jessie was by the front plus one server on duty.  Three cooks and only four customers.  He was spending more than he was making.

“What are you guys doing?”  Spencer’s voice was enough to make Ranger pop his hands out of the pockets and take a step back.

“There’s no customers,” Gordie said.  The smile behind his beard was gone.

“Is all the prep for tonight done?  You could be cleaning, organizing.  Look at Morgan.”

She had everything on her table organized by height and size.

“She has OCD!  That don’t count.  We have time to do what we need to do.”  The only thing Gordie changed about his stance was to cross his thick arms over his chest.

Spencer bit his lip.  Mom always said to count to ten when you got angry.  He made it to eight.  “Not any more.  All of you take the afternoon off and be back for 4:00pm.”  He turned and stepped out of the kitchen.

“Wait, Spencer,” Gordie moved past the junior cook and leaned on the low walls on either side of the kitchen entrance.  It was made that way so people going to the washroom could see all the action as they passed.  “Another day of three and a half hours missed from our pay checks?  That’s twice this week.  I don’t know about these guys, but I can’t keep doing this.  I owe people.”

“Your dealers?”  Sometimes if Spencer said that it would be a joke.  This time the Sous Chef stared at the Chef and didn’t say a word.

Jessie waited until the other cooks were gone.  “Are you okay, Spencer,” she asked again.  She placed a hand on his arm. 

Spencer pulled his arm away.  He said, “Call me if a customer comes in,” and headed for the back.