Kitchen Basics

Camille lacked experience in most real world skills, though she did consider herself to be well practiced in the art of shopping. Even still, Karin hadn’t trusted her to pick out dinner that night.

“Mail-order by catalog with a credit card attached to daddy’s bottomless bank account isn’t the same as shopping at the market,” she told her sister. “You wouldn’t know a good piece of meat from a bad one.”

It was the start of one of the many lectures Karin had given Camille, since she’d shown up on her doorstep, suitcase in hand, two days earlier. Not that it was all lectures all the time. Karin tried to disguise some of them as lessons.

It was cooking that night.

“Stop staring,” Karin snapped from across the kitchen.

“Why?”

“It’s annoying, that’s why. Sit down, have a drink. Or better yet, set the table. Make yourself useful if you’re going to be staying here for awhile. Do anything but just stand there and watch.”

Ignoring her, Camille stood unblinking, eyes locked—consumed with curiosity. Karin was sure her sister had never seen raw meat, let alone the process of preparing it. At the table on a plate, was the presentation Camille was most likely accustomed to. Garnished with parsley, drizzled in something exquisite. That’s how their cook had always prepared food back home.

Not that she didn’t know where it came from, Camille wasn’t stupid. But still, Karin suspected that her seeing it in this state would seem a little…cruel. She always had been daddy’s delicate little flower.

Obviously it wasn’t cruel enough to cause her to lose her appetite, though; from half way across the room Karin could hear her stomach growl.

Camille rubbed it and frowned. “I’m hungry. How long is this going to take?”

“Not long,” Karin said, glancing at her watch. “About another five minutes or so. But I’m serious, Cam, it’ll feel like an eternity if you don’t stop watching it.”

Camille continued to ignore her and poked at the meat. “It’s oozing,” she said as it sputtered something acrid smelling and brown. “Is it supposed to do that?”

“Yes. It’ll do that….ooze, as you call it. It’s a process—adds to the flavor. You’re supposed to let it sit in its juices a bit. I’ve been living on my own for a long time, I do know a thing or two about preparing a meal.”

With a dramatic sigh, Camille reluctantly tore her eyes away from the young man who was flopping around on Karin’s kitchen floor, hemorrhaging a crimson puddle all over the hardwoods; crying out things like “it burns” and “help” as the venom they’d injected spread through him, liquefying everything in its path.

“He’s loud,” Camille complained. “I didn’t realize cooking was so auditory.” She folded her arms across her chest and nodded toward Karin. “Next time I demand you sever the vocal chords, ‘kay?”

Karin raised an eyebrow and balled her fists. But rather than engage in another argument about who gave the orders now, she held her tongue and went to the liquor cabinet instead.

She loved her sister. She really did.

“And who is this person he keeps calling for?” Camille continued. “You said that this one had no ties, that his disappearance wouldn’t be noticed. Is this ‘God’ person going to come for him? Should we be worried?” Her voice rose a little. “Should we run?”

Karin looked over her shoulder, from where she stood pouring two drinks, grinned and barred her fangs. “No. They all call for him. And he hasn’t come yet. We have nothing to worry about. Now stop staring, you’re just torturing yourself. He’ll be done when he’s done.”

“I can’t help it. It’s interesting,” Camille whined, letting her eyes drift back toward their dinner. “And besides…” She crouched down in front of the man who was now curled in a ball, knees tucked up under his chin. His cries had turned to whimpers. “He’s attractive in a way. Or he was, you know, before the swelling started. And the oozing.” Camille’s long, forked tongue flicked in an out in an uncontrolled display of both lust and hunger. She ran her hand across his sweat covered brow and his face turned upward.  Blistered eyes, gray and opaque, met hers.

 "Ahh! He’s looking at me!” she cried and whipped back.

 "Just let him do his thing, Camille. He’ll bleed out here in a minute and we can eat. You know what they say about a watched pot.”

“What’s that?”

“It never boils. A watched pot never boils, you twit.”

“But he isn’t even in a pot. And we aren’t boiling anything.” Camille’s brow furrowed in that little girl way that daddy had always found adorable and Karin rolled her eyes. Figures of speech were going to be wasted on her sister, she could see.

“Here,” She slid a full shot glass down the length of the counter to Camille and tossed a wedge of lime into the air.

Catch, she said, though not out loud, and Camille, who hadn’t been looking, managed to catch it midair.

A small smile of approval formed on Karin’s face. “You’re quick,” she observed. Maybe she wasn’t going to be completely useless after all.

Camille blinked at the lime. “What is this?”

“A before dinner drink.” Karin jerked her head back, threw down her shot and sunk her teeth into the lime.

Camille watched, sniffed her shot, then set it and the lime down on the counter with a look of disgust.

“No thank you, I think I need some food for it to land on first. Those little pink drinks are doing a number on my stomach as it is. The Cosmo things you introduced me to earlier, at the bar. Er—sorry, what did you call it?”

Karin pulled the shriveled lime wedge from her mouth and tossed it into the sink. “Meat market,” she rasped, and licked her lips.

Camille smiled at her sister. “Meat market. Yes, that was it.”

Ω

Andrea Slye writes from her home in the Pacific Northwest. Look for more from Andrea in the All About Eve anthology and in the forthcoming Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer.