Light Up!

Another piece of flash fiction for your consumption.  I borrowed the notion from a new(ish) restaurant in SF called Opaque.


The Daily Chronicles – Light Up

by Matthew T Maenpaa

There was the sound of shuffling feet followed by stumbling and a loud crash. A voice groaned, a flat and reedy female voice, issuing a stream of imaginative curses. Another crash accompanied by the sound of plates breaking. “Why is it so damn dark in here?”

Another voice, a man’s slightly nasal, lisping voice. “That’s what the owners want. Goes with the theme.”

“But in the kitchen? How do you even cook?”

“Night-vision goggles. At least they didn’t hire blind cooks. Order up, Lacey.”

Lacey shuffled her feet along the tiled floor, her hands tapping along the warm stainless steel counter until she found the plates. “What are we cooking today anyways?”

“Eel curry with grilled polenta.”

Lacey felt her stomach clench at the thought, the strange spicey, fishy smell penetrating her nostrils. Was there such a thing as smell-rape? Her second night on shift, she already hated the restaurant. No menus, just one dish per night. No lights, and they told everyone that the servers and hosts were blind. The host was blind, but Lacey was the only server that night and the only reason she was blind was that there weren’t any damn lights in the restaurant. The owners said it was because they wanted everybody to appreciate the experience of blindness. What it was was bullshit, Lacey thought bitterly as she shuffled along, arms laden with plates. They had runner strips on the pathways through the restaurant to help guide their feet, and at least all the tables were booths. If there had been chairs, Lacey would probably have killed herself by now.

She could make out the hint of a profile as her eyes absorbed the pure blackness. The murmur of whispers was the only sound in the dining room, except for the clatter of cutlery on plates and the sound of chewing. It was as if people were afraid to talk in the dark, not being able to see their conversation partners. Lacey banged her knee into the side of a booth, setting the plates down carefully and very nearly dumping the eel curry over the poor patron. Not that she felt bad. If you could afford to eat in a place like this, you weren’t interested in the food anyways. Oddest thing. Lacey had worked in quite a few upscale restaurants, and most of the clientele went there to be seen. The restaurant felt like a big joke, only Lacey wasn’t laughing.

After setting the plates down, she carefully treaded back to the kitchen. The faint glow of the stove’s burners gave her enough light to see the cook. Horace was hunched over the flame, dropping pieces of eel carefully into the saute pan. Lacey sighed loudly to let him know he had company. “Got any more eel plates ready?”

“Fifteen minutes, Lacey.”

“This place sucks, you know.”

“Yeah, but who else is going to pay us this well?”

Lacey frowned. “True. Do you have a lighter?”

“What are we smoking?”

“Does it matter? I just want to light up so that I know I’m not blind.”