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Cooking Chili

Napoleon Forest stood at the edge of the patio, iron pot balanced over the propane burner with one hand, a large stainless steel ladle in the other. The July evening was hot, and his reading glasses were slipping along with a rivulet of sweat towards the end of his nose as he peered down at a recipe book held open on a table by the massive weight of a large jar of pickles.

“It’s perfect just as it is,” Chandler sampled another spoonful of chili from the bowl cradled in his left hand and tried to deflect his friend’s interest from the list of extra ingredients scrawled at the bottom of the printing. A jar of fresh cinnamon, lid unscrewed, rested temptingly nearby.

Lemon, Napoleon’s latest companion, looked up from her magazine featuring a pictorial layout of Brazilian bikini fashions, and batted a lazy curl of blond hair back from her perfect face. She was a striking woman with piecing blue eyes, a perfect, hour-glass figure, and a degreeĀ  in mathematics from MIT . “I think you should try it,” she said in one of those honey-sweet Georgian accents that made Chandler wince. He happened to know that Lemon was from Vermont.

“They say that a small amount of cinnamon makes the flavor more exotic,” Napoleon ignored Chandler. He put his ladle down and reached for the jar of spice.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Chandler insisted, wondering if he could intercept him in time.

“Just a little bit,” he lifted the jar and made to shake a dash of spices into the red liquid simmering in the iron pot. As he brought the jar over the lip, the bottom of the bottle struck the edge and dumped the entire contents into the chili.

“Shit.” He made fruitless stab with the ladle in order to dip out some of the offending mass of powder floating on the surface. The utensil slipped and pushed the island of brown spice into the liquid. There was a burp as a large bubble popped back to the surface.

“I wonder if it’ll taste too Chinese,” he muttered. “I’ll add more cayenne.” He stirred the pot vigorously before he spooned out a portion into a cup and handed it to Lemon.

“Try it. See what you think.”

Lemon, looking dubious, stuck a finger into the mix and licked it clean, catching the attention of every male in the group. “Tastes like something the cat threw up,” she announced, frowning. She lifted her wine glass to her lips and drank the entire amount of Cabernet in one gulp.

Chandler continued to look on, fascinated.

Please Note: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental__L.C. Frenzel

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