Sunday 19 June 2022

'Special's Off' by JF King

The words didn’t sound right coming from his sort of lips.

‘Escargots de Bourguignon
Pâté Lorrain
Moules Normande
Poulet à la Bretonne
Bouillabaisse Marseille…’

‘I know it is a code’, he screamed. ‘Tell me.’

The menu was embossed with the heading Café les Écrivains, I wished I was there again, those May days before the war. Not that my lips would be much use to me now.

The thug advanced again. By now he was onto the puddings

‘Tarte tropézienne…

Regions of France. Who are the section leaders, where will the drops take place, when…?’

A side door opened.

An officer entered, smooth type who actually knew what the food on the menu tasted like. Probably from last night.

‘Schenke is only doing his work. You and I are men of taste. Let us sort this out now and I will take you out for dinner. What do you say?’

‘It is a menu’ I repeated, ‘nothing more, nothing less.’

Schenke re-entered. ‘I hate menus, I hate choice, I hate…’

I never saw the smooth one again.

I rarely went to such restaurants again, even long after the war.


Mavis and I spent our honeymoon in the Tyrol.

A beautiful spring evening on the terrace.

The head waiter ambled over with the menu.

‘Choose something special for us, dearest’ said Mavis.

I passed the menu back to the head waiter to recommend a regional delicacy but he worked from memory.  His voice boomed beyond the Appetizers, echoing through the main courses. I intercepted him as he reached ‘the sweets.’

‘Do you not know the difference between a menu and a list, Herr Schenke?’ I said.

A chill descended.

I offered Mavis her going away coat. ‘There can be no delicacies for us here, darling’.

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