John drove home.
It always surprised him how quickly you could go from darkness under the trees, when you really needed the headlights, to light-polluted concrete highways. In just a few minutes he went from country back roads with no traffic, to Route 66, where there always seemed to be traffic or construction to contend with. Moments later, he exited off onto Route 28 for more of the same.
He felt Route 28 at least had a good excuse for the large numbers of cars at any given time of day or night—it was one of the most direct ways to go to Dulles International Airport.
Before long, he crossed the invisible line between Fairfax County and Loudon County, and was unceremoniously dumped out onto Route 7 West.
Ironically, he lived closer to Thorson Dairy than Logan did. If he kept driving on 7, and then dodged off on 15, he’d be well on the way up to Duke’s place.
The thought gave him a wry smile as he pulled into the condominium complex he called “home”. That smile gave way to a sigh of relief when he found that his neighbors left his parking space free. While most people were courteous about not parking in someone else’s assigned space, the people in #103 didn’t really care.
John complained to the community manager every so often, but nothing ever changed. He decided to move, started looking at new places, and then fell into a patch of ennui. The move never got beyond the fantasy stage.
He walked up the sidewalk, into the entryway between the sides of the building. His door was the first on the left, #101. With the mindlessness of often-repeated processes, he unlocked the door, went inside, and then locked the door behind himself.
It was the same old place. The closet was on the left side of the entry hall, flanked by the guest bedroom and bathroom on the right. Just a few steps beyond the closet on the left, was the place John truly wanted to be.
Like any chef, John’s place of ultimate peace and security (as well as passionate frustration) was his kitchen. It was immaculate, clean, and well ordered—completely unlike the weekend he’d had. Standing in the middle of the kitchen floor, facing his gas stove, he took a deep and cleansing breath. It was good to be home.
Feeling more centered, he opened his refrigerator and got out the pitcher of water. There wasn’t anything better than really cold water to settle the soul, or so he believed. He got a plastic tumbler out of the cabinet by the refrigerator, and filled it to the brim. After returning the pitcher to the cold of the fridge, he walked across to the kitchen counter, put the glass down, and leaned on the cold granite.
Home. Cold stone. Cold water. He hadn’t realized he needed to feel these things, otherwise he would have come home directly after the party.
He looked down at the items on the counter, directly in front of his eyes. John’s chef knives—not standing up in a wooden block, but resting on a slab of hardwood—looked blue in the quarter light of the kitchen. His perfectionism was more evident in his choice of cutlery than in any other facet of his personality.
On the far left, the largest of his culinary knives, was a handmade blade from Shosui Takeda, one of Japan’s premiere blacksmiths. Beside it was a smaller Gyuto (meat knife) from Butch Harner in Pennsylvania. There were twelve knives in order of size, and each one was a superb example of form and function.
No less superb, but not in the same category, was John’s cleaver, forged by Sam Salvati, a young, up-and-coming, maker from New York. In his experience, few meat cleavers were as well-balanced, or capable of holding an edge as keen as that one—and John had used his share of cleavers in school and in professional practice.
“Well,” a voice called out from across the apartment, “the traditional question is ‘What are your intentions towards my daughter,’ but it doesn’t fit the situation. I think we all want to know what my daughters intentions towards you are.”
Instinctively, John’s hand shot out and his fingers wrapped around the Maple handle of his cleaver.