Gale Force Ch. 01byvelvetpie©
I wrung my hands nervously and checked the table for the fiftieth time. It was a grand table. I had outdone myself but I had to in this situation. Today was the first day of shooting for Queer As Folk, an American version of the British show. That in itself was enough to be excited about but it was also my first big job and the future of my craft services business depended on how well I handled this first week. It made me feel even more comfortable knowing that the actors were unknowns at this point so I would likely not encountering any overblown egos. Yet. There was quite a buzz surrounding this production and I was damn happy to be part of it.
The opportunity had been an unseen boon. I had been in the grocery store, vehemently complaining to the produce manager about the state of the yucca he was selling and when he went slinking off into the office, I whirled around to find Ron Cowen applauding. Quite passionate about yucca, aren't you? I bristled at the condescension in his voice and I snarled back at him, "I'm passionate about all the food I prepare." He laughed heartily, making my dark skin flame with the heat of my anger. You're hired.
Of course, it hadn't been that easy. I had to prepare a sample luncheon for the administrative staff and later, a sample dinner for Cowen, Danny Lipman and other executives involved with Showtime. I served both meals in silence and without fanfare, allowing the food to speak for itself. I watched them tuck into grilled flank steak fajitas with handmade guacamole and Tabasco-laced mascarpone cheese, individual chicken Cordon Bleus and rice paper-wrapped vegetable rolls with a side of sweet Thai sauce.
I was quite surprised to find a contract being shoved into my hands thirty-five minutes later and thus, I found myself where I was standing today, anxiously wringing my hands and surveying the breakfast table that I and my assistant, Gerry, had labored over for two hours and it was just now six-thirty by my Swatch. Without warning, Ron came striding up, clipboard in hand and glasses balanced on the end of his nose.
"Good morning to you!" He shook my hand and glanced across the table. "Looks magnificent!"
"I can't. I'm trying to watch my weight."
"Then let me make a suggestion." I went over to the center of the table and plucked a flourless blackberry muffin from its perch, setting it on a paper plate and handing it to him. "Lowest calorie muffin I make."
"Great. Thanks!" He pinched off a piece and popped it into his mouth, smiling at me as he chewed. "So, how do you feel?"
"Nervous? I can't believe that you of all people would be nervous."
"This is my audition, Ron. It's probably going to end up being the most important day of my life."
Ron smiled, hefting his clipboard. "Don't make it so hard on yourself, Cary. If you cook for them the way you cooked for us, everyone will love you."
I returned his smile albeit it a bit nervously and welcomed Gerry's interruption. "They're coming!"
"Good!" Cowen mumbled, popping another chunk of muffin into his mouth. "I get to introduce you." My heart dropped in my throat and pulsed tightly there as the group of five men and three women announced themselves with loud conversation. I knew Sharon Gless. I'd seen a few Cagney and Lacey episodes, even though it hadn't been one of my favorite shows and I recognized Thea Gill from a soft-core porn show that I'd seen on HBO. The rest were unknown to me and I watched as each person gave Ron a hug.
"We're watching history in the making." Gerry whispered, standing just behind me. "This is the first show that deals with gay relationships."
"A lot of people are going to be pissed off."
"Should be a huge hit."
I tossed a grin over my shoulder to him, then swallowed nervously as Ron waved the huge group over, placing his arm around my shoulder. "Everyone, this is Cary Brinson, the head chef of our craft services. Please make her feel at home."
I tried to make eye contact with each person, noticing that a lot of the guys were super-cute. Probably gay. Hey, it was going to be a gay show, why not use gay actors? The first person that came over was Randy Harrison, an angelic young man with blond hair and blue eyes who had been cast as Justin. Behind him were Hal Sparks and Sharon Gless, already bonding as the mother and son team they were to play. Next was Thea and Michelle Clunie, the lesbian couple and Peter Paige whom I would later find out would portray the flamboyant Emmett. Next was Scott Lowell, the only one who made a request of me, one that involved pecan bear claws.
I heaved a great sigh and almost left my spot at the corner of the table when the last of the cast members strode up, his dark hair falling in wings across his dark brown eyes. He acted as if he was aloof and untouchable but I sensed something different in him: a deep abiding kindness tinged with a hint of loneliness.
"I'm Gale. Do you have any bagels?"