Author: Jason Arnett
Title: Reader (part 5 of 7)
Frequency: every Wednesday
It was hot and noisy. Dozens of people of all sorts and descriptions, all sexes and species, were working over hot stoves, at hot ovens, stirring hot, enormous pots on pillars of stainless steel. The writer, the Seeker, the lover and the butler negotiated the busy aisles between stations. “Behind you,” a ring-tailed Procyon said as he bustled through with a stack of dirty dishes.
Frank moved to let the creature pass, and bumped a human man at a stove. “Sorry,” he said to the man, who was wearing only a long apron.
“You should bet on the Cowboys,” the man said and turned back to his work stirring the pot. Frank nodded and moved on.
“What’s the fastest way out of here?” Ray was shouting as Brad slumped against him. “I can’t carry him forever.”
There was an enormous crashing of metal pots and pans across the kitchen. “Uh oh,” a woman said. Ray’s eyes widened. “Chef Jimmy’s having a fit again,” she said.
“Erika?” He looked at Frank and handed Brad over to him. “Erika, it’s Ray.”
She saw him and smiled. “Pleased to meet you,” she said. “Isn’t this a wonderful dream?” The young woman smiled vaguely.
He couldn’t help but stare at her. Everything he remembered her being was in front of him again, he was overwhelmed. “I suppose it is.”
“Ray!” Frank was forty feet away, near a set of double doors. “Ray, don’t stop! Come on!”
The writer leaned in to speak in the woman’s ear. “My name’s Raymond George Briscoe and I’m going to marry you, we’re going to have a long life together. Remember my name and when we meet that I’m going to love you more than anything else in the world for my entire existence.”
Frank’s voice seemed so far away, like he was underwater. Ray kissed Erika on the cheek and whipped around to make his way through the crowded kitchen to where he thought the double doors were.
“Over here,” Frank said. Ray came through a clutch of men carrying armloads of vegetables. “You can’t break off like that without me. You’ll be lost.” Frank hefted Brad up and all three went through the door that the butler Hodgkins was holding open.
“Gentlemen, we’re running out of time,” he told the three. “We really have to hurry.”