Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

It just so happens that my work-in-progress, the as yet untitled Last Ditch No. 5 starts on Thanksgiving Day. So, since I've got pies to make (it's yesterday) I thought I'd share the opening scene:

NOTE: these are the opinions of a fictional character, Lexy Campbell, not the opinion of the grateful and greedy author.

Chapter 1

 ‘Should I slice some pears?’ I asked.

‘No!’ bellowed Noleen.

Can I slice some pears?’

No!’ bellowed Noleen again, if an official bellow can be that high-pitched.

‘There’s no need to shout,’ I told her. ‘We’re supposed to staying calm, remember.’

‘So don’t drive me up the fricking wall and out through the fricking chimney, blathering on about fricking fruit!’

‘It’s just-’ I tried. But there was no way to explain it to someone who didn’t see it. I couldn’t not see it. On the many surfaces around the kitchen of the owners’ flat at the Last Ditch Motel, where Noleen and I were currently incarcerated, there were – and I will try not to miss anything out, but I can’t promise: a vat of Mexican wedding soup big enough to drown the entire bridal party except that it was so thick everyone could walk across it to the edge of the pot even in stilettoes; two commercial (surely) bakers’ trays of rolls that smelled like cakes and definitely had sugar on the top; three washing-up-basin-sized bowls of alleged mashed potato which were actually cream and melted butter held together with just enough potato starch to mean you’d need a spoon to serve them rather than just a jug with a spout; three similarly-sized bowls of mashed yams reeking of what I hoped was nutmeg but feared was cinnamon and topped with full-sized burnt marshmallows i.e. not the dinky ones from cups of cocoa but ones you’d have to bite in half or risk needing a Heimlich if you breathed while chewing; a casserole dish (apparently – my first guess had been paddling pool) of stuffing (apparently – my first guess, having seen the cranberries, walnuts, and orange peel, had been cake-mix); a wheelbarrow without its wheels (Noleen called it a dish, but seriously) of pure, cheese-topped, butter-slicked extra-thick cream which allegedly had onions and green beans iunder the surface; five shoe-box-sized tureens full of jam which I was supposed to call sauce; and of course a mysterious object roughly the size of a suitcase too big to carry on, which was probably a turkey, but couldn’t be identified since every square inch of it was wrapped in bacon and it smelled only of maple syrup from the cake crumbs (supposedly breadcrumbs, but I’ve watched every episode of bread week in that tent and this was cake) bursting out of it like a baking soda volcano at both ends.

So it seemed to me that if we were going to eat sliceable soup, followed by whole cakes, crumbled cakes, cheese, butter, cream, marshmallows, jam and maple syrup with a little meat and veg as a kind of garnish, maybe we needed a lighter alternative to the five pies that were perched all around, on the breakfast bar, on both breakfast bar stools, in a trio on the windowsill, in the- Hang, on that’s six. There was a pumpkin pie on the breakfast bar, two pecan pies on the stools, a cherry lattice, a chocolate cream and a key lime on the windowsill. Yes, six. And an apple cobbler on top of the microwave. As I was saying, it seemed to me that maybe we needed a ligher alternative to seve- Eight! There was a cheesecake in the dishrack – alternative to eight – Nine! I had just spotted a peach flan by the coffeemaker – alternative to nine (and counting, because I hadn’t opened any cupboards) pies for pudding.

‘Okay,’ I said. ‘I won’t slice anything now and if anyone feels like something light I’ll hop up and do it then.’

‘No one will.’

‘I might.’


‘Oh for God’s sake,’ I said.

‘Stay calm,’ said Noleen, with an infuriating smirk.

‘I’m going to go and see how they’re getting on setting the table,’ I said.

‘Of course, you are,’ said Noleen. ‘Because how could a bunch of Americans possibly set out silverware and drinking vessels to the satisfaction of Your Majesty. Why, we’d just tip the swill in the trough and get on our knees if we didn’t have you to help, wouldn’t we?’

            ‘Stay calm,’ I said, then I nipped away out of earshot before she could come back at me.

I hope everyone whipping up a feast for later today is managing to stay calmer than either of this pair.

And while I've got you. It'll be a while before this hits the shelves, but Last Ditch 4 - SCOT MIST - is out in the UK today. (And if you're elsewhere, like me, you can wait till Febraury or order it with free delivery from Blackwell's in Oxford or Amazon's very own The Book Depository.)



Ann said...

Happy Thanksgiving my lovely Catriona. It was very difficult but I made only one pie — pumpkin. And it contains cinnamon as well as cloves and nutmeg. The turkey is in the oven, but I can hold dinner off long enough for you to catch a flight east—Neil too of course. Bring pie. Xo

Kathy Reel said...

You are the Queen of comical description, Catriona!