Roger Reads the Menu

Submitted into Contest #162 in response to: Start your story with someone looking at a restaurant menu.... view prompt

39 comments

Funny Happy Fiction

Do not order the salmon.

I know it sounds good, Aurelia, but it’s not. It’s not good. Nothing here is good. Some things are bad and some are unspeakable. Order something bad. I can’t promise you good. I wish I could, but no good. No good. None of it is good.

The salmon, however, is unforgivable.

We wouldn’t even be here if not for family obligations. My brother insists he’s a chef. I disagree, but I do so privately. That’s how I was raised. When you’re brought up in a monastery by monks operating under the oath of silence, you learn to keep your opinions to yourself. To this day, I’ve never heard my father’s voice or been able to ask him who my mother was, although I have my suspicions. The girl who would care for the turkeys always bore a striking resemblance to Josiah and I. I assume he goes by Chef Josiah now.

Heavens, heavens.

I do not begrudge my brother having a passion. We all must have passion in life. That being said, please cast your eyes to page three of this…menu. On it, you will find a duck entree. Believe me, Aurelia, this man does things to a duck that a priest wouldn’t do during an exorcism. The first time I ordered it, the waiter gave me a look that I now know was a suggestion to flee. The plate arrived at the table appearing as though it had just been sent through a spin cycle on an old washing machine. I picked at it as best I could, but there was no salvaging it--let alone consuming it. Josiah came out to the table to ask how I was enjoying my meal and I lied to his face. I said I had come down with a sudden case of botulism and would need to leave. Truthfully I’d rather die than eat something out of a can, but it was all I could think of at that moment. Aurelia, you have no idea the hellish situation you find yourself in when your path in life has led you to writing about food and your brother--your dear, sweet, lovely brother who is incapable of so much as boiling an egg properly--decides to become a chef.

Thank goodness it would be a conflict of interest for me to review this place or I’d have to give up my profession entirely. I’d rather set my career on fire than hurt my brother. When we were younger, I was always protecting him from bullies. He was a very tender child. Tender--unlike the chicken you’ll find on page four. He would chase after butterflies and sing songs and when the monks sent us to school in the village over the hill, he was the apple of every teacher’s eye. Unfortunately, that made him a target. Soon, I was knocking knuckles with anyone who dared even utter a cruel word at my precious Josiah. He was never even aware of how much I sheltered him. Perhaps that’s why now he thinks he can run down whichever terrifying road he wishes and not a single car will come his way.

This is my doing, Aurelia. You’re going to have to order the steak frites and suffer through them simply because your fool of a new boyfriend never wanted to let his little brother grow up. Don’t believe the menu when it says the frites are divine. They are the furthest thing from Heaven short of the sweat of Dante’s big toe. If you like, I can ask for extra napkins that we can hide our meat in before storing it away in your purse. I’d say we could feed it to the dogs when we return home, but even canines don’t deserve to dine on poorly seasoned cuisine.

When Josiah comes out here, as he always does, you must smile at him and tell him the food is delicious. Take a small morsel from your plate--only half a forkful--and plop it right in your mouth. Do not chew it. If you release any of its flavor, you will gag immediately. I once made the mistake of chewing on the lamb you see midway down page five and--for a brief instance--I did not believe I would ever know joy again. Such was the darkness of its inadequacy. It didn’t belong on a plate, it belonged on the gallows.

This is not to say Josiah is totally bereft of talent. Years ago, when I was ill from a cold I caught whilst traipsing home from a delightful four-course evening at Le Canard Royal, Josiah came to check up on me. I assured him that I could fend off a simple ailment, but he insisted on making me something to buoy my spirits.

Dear Lord, I thought, I’m mildly ill now, but after some of his cooking, I’ll most likely need an ambulance and a stomach pump.

Josiah surprised me. He made me chicken soup--the same kind the monks used to make us when we were boys. I nearly laughed at the simplicity of it all. When he brought me the bowl on a small serving tray, I was so…touched. The concern he had for me. The way he clasped his hands as he handed over the soup--clearly praying it would do some good.

Aurelia, that soup…

It was the most disgusting thing I’d ever put in my mouth. That includes the raw yak meat I ate during my trip to Siberia.

But, you see, when I said Josiah isn’t entirely lacking, I wasn’t speaking about his food. I was speaking about his heart. For there are many chefs who cook with expert precision, but their food is soulless just as they are. My brother’s food is not like that. It has the same passion that he does. Perhaps too much passion. Passion is like paprika--a little goes a long way. Eventually, I hope, he’ll become more skilled. He’ll fail and try again. He’ll have to--I can no longer shield him from life’s tribulations.

I just hope that any creative gains do not result in integral losses. I would take him as he is right now forever and ever--even if it meant I had to eat every single despicable item on this menu.

You’ll love him too, Aurelia, I’m sure you will. Tonight will be the test we all face if we’re lucky enough to love someone. We will choose to overlook the gristle and celebrate the grace.

That being said, in the event that one of tonight’s specials is the lobster roll--

Beware.

There is absolutely nothing special about it.

September 02, 2022 19:32

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39 comments

Sophia Gavasheli
21:49 Sep 17, 2022

Wow, this is so witty! I was smiling the whole time. "Tender--unlike the chicken you’ll find on page four" - LOL!

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Story Time
01:56 Sep 19, 2022

Thank you glad you liked it.

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11:22 Sep 16, 2022

I love your story, Kevin. It’s cleverly written and both funny and endearing at the same time.

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Story Time
16:31 Sep 16, 2022

Thank you so much, Kimberly!

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Kate Winchester
04:29 Sep 16, 2022

This is great! It’s funny yet the love the narrator has for his brother is heartwarming. I like how although he is critiquing his brother’s food, he is also sharing his brother’s good qualities too.

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Story Time
05:38 Sep 16, 2022

Thank you so much, Kate.

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Kate Winchester
08:42 Sep 16, 2022

Welcome ☺️

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Daniel Rains
16:49 Sep 14, 2022

This is a bit outside the genre I normally read, but I enjoyed it. I thought the story moved along at a good pace, spilling in information seamlessly during the MC's ranting to his girlfriend. Very well done.

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Story Time
17:21 Sep 14, 2022

Thank you so much, Daniel.

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Sayonee M N
01:33 Sep 14, 2022

This was highly entertaining yet heart touching---a difficult combo to pull off. Here are some of my fav lines (there were too many): Second paragraph. (It reads like a poem.) the plate arrived at the table appearing as though it had just been sent through a spin cycle on an old washing machine. Perhaps that’s why now he thinks he can run down whichever terrifying road he wishes and not a single car will come his way. They are the furthest thing from Heaven short of the sweat of Dante’s big toe. My brother’s food is not like that. It ...

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Story Time
16:01 Sep 14, 2022

Thank you so much, Sayonee!

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Mustang Patty
00:40 Sep 12, 2022

Hi there, You managed to weave a spell with this saga. At first, I was put off by the non-use of quotations, but as I read on, I became more comfortable. (I'm really big on quotation marks - not sure why.) Enjoyed the read; thank you for sharing, ~MP~

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Story Time
07:32 Sep 12, 2022

Thank you so much!

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Mustang Patty
16:00 Sep 12, 2022

You're very welcome, ~MP~

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L.M. Lydon
17:40 Sep 11, 2022

Oh my goodness, what an opening! That narrator is scorching- too many little textual gems for me to call them all out. Yet I appreciate the narrator's grudging gentleness at the ending.

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Story Time
07:32 Sep 12, 2022

Thank you so much!

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Marty B
04:19 Sep 11, 2022

I really like the end of the story, and the connection between doing what you love, and loving others Fav lines- "You’ll love him too, Aurelia, I’m sure you will. Tonight will be the test we all face if we’re lucky enough to love someone. We will choose to overlook the gristle and celebrate the grace."

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Story Time
04:42 Sep 11, 2022

Thank you so much, Marty.

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Charlie Murphy
03:39 Sep 11, 2022

good story. love the plot

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Story Time
04:43 Sep 11, 2022

Thank you so much, Charlie. Glad you enjoyed it.

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Will Willoughby
18:32 Sep 10, 2022

Really strong voice here. Nicely done!

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Story Time
04:44 Sep 11, 2022

Thank you so much, Will!

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Mary Lehnert
14:53 Sep 10, 2022

Enormously entertaining jealous I could not pull this off.

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Story Time
04:44 Sep 11, 2022

Thank you so much, Mary!

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Michał Przywara
03:44 Sep 06, 2022

Heh, this was amusing, but despite the ragging-on-a-sibling, also wholesome. The opening is interesting, and the first line that really caught me was "My brother insists he’s a chef. I disagree, but I do so privately." lol Part of me wonders how reliable the narrator is, and if perhaps some jealousy plays a role. But then, the explanation about being shielded from criticism and never really growing up, makes sense too. In any case, I like the ending." We will choose to overlook the gristle and celebrate the grace" is a good sentiment.

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Story Time
16:15 Sep 06, 2022

Thank you so much, Michal. I also doubt his reliability, but then again, I don't believe any narrator is all that reliable.

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Amanda Lieser
23:22 Sep 03, 2022

Hi Kevin! Oh this was such a fun read. I like that your MC and his brother had a non traditional upbringing. I also love how you addressed the reader by having the narrator address their SO. I also loved the last little bit about the chicken soup. This was such an interesting take on the prompt and even though it was critical of the food, I found it full of love all the same. Nice job!

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Story Time
00:56 Sep 05, 2022

Thank you so much, Amanda! I was even surprised when he hated the soup.

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Riel Rosehill
19:19 Sep 03, 2022

Kevin, The "Aurelia, this man does things to a duck that a priest wouldn’t do during an exorcism." line made me laugh out loud (and was/am very upset by public transport, so that's something! Took my mind off the frustration of missing two trains and being super late to giving my hen her meds, thanks!) Love the wholesome family dynamics these brothers have. My favourite part was when the narrator fell ill and there's this whole build up to me thinking that soup would be what the little brother can make perfectly - and nope 🤣 That's comedy ...

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Story Time
19:21 Sep 03, 2022

Thank you. I think even as the author when I got to the part about him having a woman with him I went "Oh, you're not....? Okay then. Well. I guess we'll just press on then."

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23:15 Sep 02, 2022

Brilliant! Not much actually makes me laugh on Reedsy, but this did. Such wonderful turns of phrase and hilarious comparisons. I love the religious undertones and the line about the exorcist is perfect. Just what I needed at the end of a long day. Thank you for the read.

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Story Time
23:38 Sep 02, 2022

Thank you, Katherine! Glad you enjoyed it.

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Naomi Onyeanakwe
21:20 Sep 02, 2022

It's a wonder how you can put out such good stories in such a short amount of time. Well done!

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Story Time
23:38 Sep 02, 2022

Thank you so much, Naomi!

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Bonnie Clarkson
20:48 Sep 16, 2022

Good story. But I couldn't quite figure out if the person talking was a food critic or not. Keep writing.

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Zack Powell
01:18 Sep 13, 2022

It always makes me happy when your monologue stories get a bunch of likes, Kevin. Secretly, I'm always hoping people read this and try the format out themselves. This site is such a great platform for experimentation, and I'm glad that you're always reminding people of that. So, before all else, kudos. This is a fun one, as are all your stories in this format. Really like the dual character dynamics of brother-brother and boyfriend-girlfriend. This poor narrator is just trying his best, the best way he knows how. Who can't relate to that? Y...

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Story Time
04:43 Sep 13, 2022

Thank you so much, Zack. When I was studying creative writing in school, one of my professors would always harp on the "theatricality" of my writing as if to say "if you really want to double down on prose, you need to veer away from monologues and anything that could be considered a monologue" and so it's heartening to hear someone enjoy me leaning into that instead of away from it.

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21:05 Sep 12, 2022

Your facts is off the topic but I like the the end with the food choice

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Laurie Roy
17:51 Sep 12, 2022

I need quotations...but I'll forgive it because I laughed out loud. At my desk at work, in an otherwise silent room. I loved it.

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