A number of cooks wearing long white chefs hats, stiff from exessive starching so they can withstand the most forceful of winds, dance from table to table in a frantic waltz, carting their trays of foodstuffs lovingly in their arms as they would the torso of a woman across a dance floor. The pace is definite and precise, effortless in motion, hyponotic in spite of the seeming chaos, as though watching a colony of fiddler crabs forage and sift through exposed sands while the sun emerges from behind an occlusive thunderhead. The end of Euclid Ave has become a maze of long tables covered in white table cloths and stainless steel dishes heated from beneath with pots of sterno. I only see serving tables for the buffet of cajun and french delights. Either we sit on the ground or we sit somewhere else. I imagine the zydeco musicians will soon arrive. I have no idea where they have placed the bandstand. Knowing Burton, he probably has them on a raised area so the music can be heard all along the street and into the park. They must be near the old house for the security guards, the one recently razed to expand the parking lot.
I pick up a crayfish from one of the stainless steel trays. The cook filling the other tureens on the table encourages me to eat it. I would eat it except I have no plate, nut cracker or silverware. I don't feel like cracking it open with my bare hands, spurting juice and lemon on my hands and shirt. Maybe after the party gets going and we're too inebriated from the whiskey to care about rotten crustacean smells I'll eat them bare-handed.
Other cooks prepare trays of bread puddings and thick broths that glisten with a creamy sheen. A strong armed cook pours a flesh-colored bouillabaisse into an intricately designed silver tureen. The bread pudding smells heavenly, even among the aromas of the soups and entrees. The cook slicing the pudding into neat squares before he covers them with whiskey sauce notices my intent gaze in his direction. He motions for me to come over. I do. Through his thin moustache, as spanish as his accent, he tells me to go around the corner where I can see the puddings being poured from the bundt pans. I turn to go in the direction indicated, allowing the vapors and aromas rising from the trays to carry me along the asphalt.
Next to the wreckage of the guard house, where the zydeco band will play, four more cooks pour the contents of large bundt pans into a huge stainless steel cauldron. They release the contents of the bundt pans to reveal patches of cinnamon on the slightly browned areas of bread pudding. One cook takes a smaller pan filled with a blue substance and adds it to the steaming cauldron.
He folds it into the yellowy mass of bread and substance. It fades immediately upon contact with the warm surface, spreading through the batter in marbled lines of green, until it fades away to nothing at all. I feel I must wait until the pudding has completely cooked before I ask for a helping.
When I turn around I find Per standing behind me.
'So are you..'
He takes me over to the construction site across the street to show me something he has found in the mud. It looks like nothing more than a rock encrusted in red clay, made muddy by rain or waters from the fire hydrant nearby. He doesn't want to pick it up. However, he thought I might find it interesting, whatever it may be. I pick it up more to humor him than to see what it is. It looks like a rock covered in red clay. I turn the fire hydrant on with the twist of green knob and wash it off in the forceful stream of water coming out the other side.
It is not a rock.
I don't know what it is, but I am quite glad that Per showed it to me. It has a blue shiny body with dots of iridescent yellow covering its surface as though it has been glazed and fired. Two white blobs, nearly spherical, but not quite perfectly so, protrude from the surface on either side with a tan one between the two in the back. The tan blob is speckled in lighter spots much like the blue surface with the yellow spots. It vaguely resembles a space-filling model of a peptide or the head group of a phospholipid . .white for oxygen . . tan . . carbon? perhaps sulphur, and the blue for the carbon skeleton, except it melted somehow. Maybe someone threw it in an autoclave..
I turn it around in my hand. The bottom is quite drab, merely flat and carved out from beneath. It must be made of clay and fired to obtain the stippling effect on the surface. I examine it more closely along the sides for any indication of how it was made. I find the outlines of three fingers along the edge near the bottom, not the impressions of fingers, but casts of fingers themselves. They disappear into the body of the object. One of them actually sticks out from the back like a tail. The other two curve back into the form so the nail beds cannot be completely seen. Someone made this from fingers. They must have melted into the globular form with the first firing, except it didn't work to perfection, leaving outlines of some of the components along the bottom edge. I turn around to tell this to Per, but he seems to have left.
I find him by the guard house talking to one of the cooks. Rather than interrupt his conversation I lie across the curb of the parking lot, gathering a mass of asphalt in my arms to use as a pillow.