But Minas and Branwyn didnt know anything about the kitchen table and its special status. As a matter of fact, Branwyn thought that it was probably the worst seat in the house, being in the noisy kitchen and all, but she was willing to sit there because of that note of deep need in Minass voice when he declared his hunger.
Minas asked for ribs, but Fontanot told him that if he was hungry he wanted the restaurants special smoked sausages.
Sausages stick to your ribs, boy," the big chef declared. An what will you have, Miss Beerman?"
I dont eat much meat," she admitted with a slight bow of her head.
Minas thought that she was such a kind woman that she was afraid that her appetite would somehow bruise Fontanots feelings.
I got catfish come up evry day from Lake Charles, Louisiana," Fontanot said. Theys a farm down there where they introduce wild fish every six weeks. You know, the big catfish farms got they fish so inbred that you might as well callem sole."
This made Branwyn laugh.
Minas looked at the young, beautiful woman and wondered where she could have possibly come from. He was about to ask her, when Fontanot put a big oval plate of steaming sausages in front of him. One bite and Minas couldnt stop eating. The sauce was extremely spicy-hot, and so the doctor ate plenty of bread and downed glass after glass of ice water through the meal. But he didnt turn away the second plate when Fontanot placed it in front of him. Something about Branwyns company and the kitchen and loud, loud Ira Fontanot made the doctor ravenous.
Branwyn picked at her catfish, which was very good, and watched the heart surgeon eat. She imagined that he probably hadnt had a good meal since the day his wife died.
Rich white doctor or no, she thought, its an unlucky star that shone down on this mans backyard.
Im not usually such a pig, Miss Beerman," Minas said when he noticed her smiling at him.
Appetite aint nuthin to be shamed of, Doctor," she said. I wish that I could see my son eat like you."
You should see my boy, Miss Beerman," Minas replied. He sucks down formula by the quart. When he cries its almost as loud as Mr. Fontanot here."
Maybe hell be a singer," Ira Fontanot said. Thats what I always wanted to be. But my voice was too strong, and they made me lip-synch in the church choir."
Thats awful," Branwyn said. A boy or a girl should always be let to sing. When you gonna sing but when youre a child?"
And who has more reason?" Minas added.
The three were silent a moment, appreciating how much in line their thinking was.
More sausages, Minas?" Fontanot asked.
I wouldnt be able to get in behind the wheel if I had them, Ira."
Hows your fish?" the big cook asked Branwyn.
The best Ive ever eaten," she said. But dont tell my mama I said that."
BACK IN THE CAR, Minas related a long and convoluted joke about a poor woman who fooled a banker into being the shill for a hoax she was pulling on a fancy-pants lawyer.
The story took so long to tell that he had driven to her apartment building and parked in front of the door again before it was through.
Branwyn liked a good story, and she was happy at the end when the trick made her laugh and laugh.
Thats really beautiful," Minas Nolan said.
Copyright © 2006 by Walter Mosley
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