Marked for Discount

"Have you seen a can-opener?" This mantra he repeats, wandering through the great kitchens, searching for something to open his can of peaches with.

The salad chef yields nothing. She deals with the garden greens of the earth, varied in texture and color and taste, but nothing like the unforgiving metal blades that go to war on other metal. The head of bakers yields nothing. She deals with the oven and the soft touch of flour.

Sometimes, the mantra changes: "Is there a can-opener anywhere?"

The pasta chef yields nothing. She deals with the exotic spices and herbs, whimsically reminiscent of the far-off places they come from; and besides, the pasta requires only water for nurturance, water and flame. The meat chef--now there is a more likely source, skilled with carving knives and filleting knives--but she deals with only a certain kind, nothing like can-openers.

"Have you seen a can-opener?"

Have you, at all?

And what is so fine about those canned peaches, that he wanders about the great kitchens, inquiring all the while: "Have you seen a can-opener?" Peaches halved and peaches sliced, the soft skin torn away, pitted, dumped into their own juices and then crystallized with sugar--to hang in a heartless store or a cold pantry, for half of an eternity.

"Have you seen a can-opener?"

Those are not peaches. They are the dregs, merely the dregs, and he calls still for the can-opener, which none in the great kitchen can find, nor do they seem to really be looking.

"Have you seen a can-opener?"

Have you, at all?

--

This was meant to be a bit of a take on modernist writing, induced by too much Hemingway, expatriatism, and wanting to smack around the disillusioned characters to get on with it already. I'm looking at you, Gatsby.

April 9, 2006