Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: A GZ and Jeff Halloween: Part I

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Also, Happy Halloween!  In honor of the occasion, I have momentarily set aside my usual flash and I've written a Halloween story. I'm posting part one today, and I'll finish it tomorrow. Hope you enjoy it! This is especially for those people who, like me, enjoy watching the Food Network! See what my favorite chefs are up to! It might surprise you! Then see what the other Briefers have been doing. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

A GZ and Jeff Halloween: Part I

Although he’d been skeptical of the idea at first, Geoffrey Zakarian—GZ to his friends and colleagues—had to admit that Jeff Mauro had been right about which costumes they should wear to the Food Network Halloween bash. They’d brought smiles to many faces as they’d made the rounds of their fellow chefs, adoring fans, and network executives.

Of course, no one realized that the Turkish Angora cat Jeff carried was actually the Iron Chef himself.  Although Jeff referred to the cat as GZ, everyone assumed he was making a joke in the absence of the chef. The fact that GZ was a cat shifter was a secret he’d only shared with Jeff, who’d become his best friend after they’d started working together on The Kitchen, back in 2014. Not even GZ’s wife or his children knew that the aristocratic white cat who deigned to grace them with his presence on occasion was their very own Geoffrey/Daddy.

“I like your costume, Mr. Mauro!”  Chef Alton Brown complimented the Sandwich King. “But I’m not sure who you’re supposed to be. Care to enlighten me?”

“Dr. Evil, of course,” Jeff replied. He  placed his little finger  at the corner of his mouth, striking an appropriate pose, then moved his hand down to stroke the white cat in his arms, sinking his fingers into the luxurious fur, as if to make his point. The two chefs stood next to one another in the buffet line, waiting their turn to pick from long tables laden with an assortment of epicurean delights .  Of course the whole night had been dedicated to eating and drinking—that’s what they did. Only the best for these well-trained palates.

“Ah,” Alton said. “I thought maybe you were supposed to be Dr. No. He came first, you know.” He reached over and chucked the cat under the chin, who purred compliantly. GZ was used to being petted. His children loved to pet the white cat they’d nicknamed Prince. And Jeff was prone to do so himself. Sometimes it was nice to curl up in Jeff’s lap, in front of a roaring fire burning in one of his seven fireplaces, and nap, something he had little time for as a chef. The life of an Iron Chef/restaurateur was not easy, and he took his luxuries where he could.

“Yes, I know,” Jeff said, grinning widely. “James Bond is cool and all, but Austin Powers… he’s totally hilarious. You gotta love comedy, right?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t know anything about that.”

The cat lazily raised its head and fixed wide eyes on Alton. GZ wondered how he could say that with a straight face when everyone knew that Alton’s show, Good Eats, contained equal parts information and humor. As did Alton’s stint as moderator on Iron Chef America. The man certainly had a poker face.

Jeff just laughed. When they reached the head of the line, he made sure to acquire the finest of tidbits for his feline companion, including but not limited to Beluga caviar and smoked salmon. Jeff eyed all the delectable comestibles. “Looks like I’ll need both hands,” he commented. GZ knew the drill. He climbed up Jeff and settled around his neck so Jeff could fill two plates.

There was no central location for eating. Guests were free to sit where they could find space. As Jeff looked around for an open spot, GZ heard a familiar voice.

“There’s room over here, Jeff. Why don’t you come and sit by me?”

GZ would have known that voice anywhere. Chef Alex Guarnaschelli was one of his best friends, as well as his fellow judge on Chopped, and at one time she’d once been his sous chef on Iron Chef America. When people asked if they were husband and wife, she liked to joke that she and GZ had been married for all of ten minutes. She was strong and tough and she was an amazing chef. GZ had a great admiration for her, in and out of the kitchen.

“Well, since you asked so nicely, I think I will.” Jeff plopped down into the wing chair beside Alex, setting one plate on the small table between them so he could get settled. GZ clung tightly to Jeff’s neck, lest he fall, momentarily forgetting his claws.

“Ouch!” Jeff reached up and pulled the cat from his perch, settling him on one leg instead, one plate balanced on his other thigh. “Naughty boy, watch out for those things, willya?”

GZ meowed contritely.

“Let me guess, you’re Dr. Evil, right?” Alex said. “And that’s Mr. Bigglesworth? I thought he was bald?”

“The second one was, yeah,” Jeff said. “But this isn’t him, this is GZ. He’s just playing Mr. Bigglesworth tonight.”

Alex laughed. “Why am I not surprised you named the cat after Geoffrey Zakarian? Does he find that as amusing as I do?”

“Even more so, I think.” Jeff smiled. “You want to hold him?”

Not waiting for a response, GZ rose and leaped from Jeff’s lap to Alex’s, careful of Alex’s plate.

“Well, I guess he wants me to hold him whether I want to or not. He’s a smart kitty, isn’t he?”

“You have no idea,” Jeff said enigmatically.

Alex began to stroke along GZ’s back. He relaxed at her touch, purring luxuriantly. “You are a soft fellow, aren’t you? I think GZ has a cat like you. His kids told me about him. They really love him, but he’s wild and he only shows up when he feels like it. You gotta admire someone like that, you know?”

GZ purred again, the only response he could make under the circumstances.

“Let me guess, that plate’s his?” Alex motioned toward the food on the table.

“How could you tell? It’s the kitty seafood special. He loves the stuff. Especially the caviar. Feel free to feed him, if you like.”

“He’s got the same rich taste as his owner.” Alex snorted.

to be continued

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