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High Life



 
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Derek Norse

HELP WANTED
The sign in the window glared down at Derek as he walked up to the midtown restaurant. He'd purchased the space months ago, and since had been gutting and renovating the space to create a new kind of fine dining experience. The idea had come to him over a perfectly wrapped joint of his newest crossbreed.

Before he knew it, he was looking on Zillow, Trulia, and any other manner of real estate website looking for the perfect space. The goal was in mind, and his stoned self on a mission. The next morning, with a killer hangover from a night of smoke and drink, he'd found himself wondering just what he had done.

He drove down to the city to meet the eager agent he'd reached out to, a lovely young woman with long chestnut hair and smoky olive eyes, and it was simply a done deal. An offer was made, and quickly accepted from the motivated seller. The agent had warned him that they swore it was haunted. Something about it being an old speakeasy that had been overturned and bloodied.

And now, the ghosts of those souls drink the liquor at night, quenching their thirst and completely ruining the current owner's bottom line. Derek, as it stands, is not afraid of ghosts. He has a Ghostie of his own, and he has full confidence that she would cleanse the space of whatever bottom dwellers were sneaking into the bar at night.

EXPERIENCE CHEF
INQUIRE WITHIN

A loud crash comes from within the space, and he lets out a groan as he steps inside. There, he would find one of the edison chandeliers crashed down from the ceiling and landed directly onto the bar, effectively cracking it. The bar, a deep, carved oak, is specially made specifically for this. Built into the top, a glass case where people would have their drinks and have a world class view of his perfect creations.

Clearly, he needs a thicker glass.

The space is dark, walls painted rich greens and purples made to match the product of his California crops. The tables and chairs match the wood of the bar perfectly. In a corner, framed professional photos of different buds wait to be hung for display. And yet, it is perfectly lit for their work and he cannot fathom how they could keep breaking things.

One glance at the contractor responsible for dropping the ball is all that is needed before he makes his way into the back, through the kitchen, and into the office. There, he would gather up a binder and pull another pre-rolled joint from the safe before going back out to the dining area and taking a seat. These people obviously need to be babysat, and he needs to be able to get some work done.

His work being choosing wines from a long list of Napa Valley bidders looking to get their names out there on the East Coast. The problem is, the man knows absolutely nothing about wine.
October 13, 2018 09:55 am

Remington Agnes

Three times, he’d counted out the rest of his money. And, three times, it came out as not enough to live on for the rest of the week. Fidgeting, he considered his options. He could go back and beg for his job back, for the third or fourth time, undeniably pinning his old boss in a bad position. Or, he could search for something new.

Both had their pros and cons. Richie had been good to him, giving Rem every opportunity under the sun to do and be better, but his nature held him back. Yet, a new job held the potential of danger, in some form or another, and offered no stability. Not that he had any, anyway.

An hour later, he was fastening the last button on the black shirt before he idly fidgeted with the sleeves. A sigh would tell of his distress as he settled with rolling them up, eyeballing himself lamely in the mirror. The mass of a mane was pulled back and tied at his nape, and he would attempt to quell the angry bags under his eyes with an ice cube.

It didn’t help.

Just wear your glasses today. It’ll make you look smarter and more reliable anyway.
Neither of which I am.

The thick-rimmed glasses were donned nonetheless, and even he had to admit, it helped a little.

One last, passing glance to a reflection that was presentable, and Rem was out the door.

Hours later, and zero luck afforded, he wandered the streets aimlessly, a little worse for wear.

You’re being too hard on yo—
Not now, Remi, just... please?

She fell silent, but he could feel her upset in their shared psyche, as she would surely feel his remorse. A minute later, and she was calmed, humming a soft tune in the back of their mind.

That’s when he saw it.

Stopping in front of the building, he deliberated. “Experience Chef...” The words were a muttered breath on the wind as he pondered what that would entail.

Maybe it’s a typo, she would offer, and Rem nodded his agreement at the potential.

“Or maybe, they want you to experience chef?” Again, he hesitated, poking his head inside the door inconspicuously. A quick assessment had them both agreeing that the place didn’t even seem open, so context clues offered him a tentative result to what the sign displayed.

It does say help wanted.

Stepping fully into the building with nothing more to lose, Rem glanced around, intrigued. There was a bar, some nice light fixtures - despite the one shattered on the floor - and a welcoming atmosphere. His heart beat painfully in his chest at the idea of mucking this up.

Steeling himself, he relaxed his worried expression and approached a man who was nosedeep in a binder. Rem would clear his throat before imparting himself in his bubble. “Excuse me, I don’t mean to bother you, but who do I need to talk to about... the chef?”

There, problem solved. Now if it really wasn’t a typo, he didn’t make a fool out of himself.
October 15, 2018 12:05 pm

Derek Norse

The chef?

Derek is nosedeep in a binder, for sure. Nosedeep, and rolling a delicious blunt upon the page he is supposed to be focused on. He just can't deal with this sh-t. It's way too much, and he needs to hire someone to do his job for him.

A manager, with benefits.

But, the binder is quickly closed, hiding his bounty as he lifts his head to look at Remington. Clean, smart. He's wearing glasses, so that obviously means he's got a genius level IQ. And when guys have their hair tied back, it usually means they have high expectations. He knows - Wes did that once, and he was a straight up diva.

"We hired a chef? I hired a chef?"

Derek is up, grabbing the binder carelessly. His beautiful, smelly contents would fall and scatter upon the table at which he worked, pulling a groan from him.

"Look, I don't have a chef. Yet. But I'm sure that they didn't mean to do whatever they did." He's barely put a foot in the door, and already he has upset customers. How in God's name does anyone make a name for themselves in this line of work?

He's going to go under, for sure. This place is going to tank because he can't even get a good chef.

He smokes a lot. Don't judge him.

"And the kitchen is clean. I swear. Come on, I'll show you. Let's go. Don't have a chef, but I have a kitchen." Derek is eager to prove that this isn't a sham, and it is all because of a man wearing glasses. Leaving his blunder behind, he would lead the smartly dressed man through a pair of swinging double doors to reveal a kitchen that is barely put together.

Honestly, it's a mess.

Cluttered, there is little shine. There is also next to no food, save his own pizza rolls that sit in the glass doored freezer just waiting to be popped into the microwave and served up on a golden platter with a parsley garnish. It will be a meal fit for a King.

And, hanging from the pot rack over the island counter of stainless steel, is beautiful, fresh herb.

"See? No chef. No problem."
October 22, 2018 08:06 pm

Remington Agnes

Oh, this guy’s great...

Rem scoffed at her sarcasm, finding himself rather intrigued by the man, even if the thorough once-over was a little intrusive. It only felt that way, perhaps, because he was making himself out to be something he wasn’t. Reliable, for instance.

Floored and wholly unprepared for the line of questioning, Rem made a noise of confusion before responding. “Well, uh, I don’t... really know, I suppose—“ Seeing his fumble, the overeager man stooped to help clean the mess, scooping the herb off the table and into his palm. Inconspicuously, he brought it up to his nose and gave a hearty sniff before it wrinkled in deliberation.

“No one did anything,” Rem stated, coming out of his reverie with a worried tone, though he did perk up upon hearing the position hadn’t been filled. Yet, before he had the chance to tell him he’d like an interview, they were off to the kitchen, with Rem still just awkwardly palming part of his stash.

”Oh, God...”

Halted in his tracks, he instantly felt the urge to... fix it.

Holding out his hand, he dropped the particles of fresh smoke on the black binder and set to work. It didn’t matter that he didn’t have a job here, nor that he didn’t know this man; he just needed to get this mess of a kitchen organized. Rem would cast the man an apologetic look, but nothing could stop him when he had his mind set.

Drawers were emptied and restocked in a way that made sense, cabinets received the same treatment, the fridges, sparce as they were, were taken in and sized up, and the counters were scrubbed. Only then, would he address the elephant in the room.

Taking a bushel of the herb, he pulled it toward him so he could sniff. Marijuana. Rem didn’t partake himself, but he’d watched enough about cooking with it to know the bigger details. “So,” he began, wondering if this was overstepping, “I’m assuming you plan to cook with this? Is that the whole shtick?”

Rubbing at the stubble on his face, he shook his head, as if coming to a conclusion with himself. Or someone that lived in his head.

“This isn’t a good way to store this, at least in the kitchen. It’ll get dried out too fast in the heat, and most recipes call for a butter or oil when cooking with this herb, and you can’t have it dried out or it loses its quality.” It all came out in a jumble, as it often does when he goes on a tangent about something, and he had to calm himself before continuing.

“Might I suggest canisters? And maybe a pantry to hang the fresh stuff in?”
October 23, 2018 09:48 am

Derek Norse

Broken up herb is ceremoniously dropped onto his binder, and Derek is left to watch as the strange man in the smart clothes sets off about his kitchen. There is a clear amount of concentration here that he can recognize easily. It is the same look in his eyes when he is working through his crop. It is the eye of the artist.

He remains silent, and instead moves into the windowed office just off the kitchen. There would be no stopping him as he watches Remington work through the space, only looking away long enough to continue rolling his pre-lunch toke.

Derek would emerge as the man slows, prize between his lips as he puffs at it slowly.

"Fine dining," he mutters. "Appeal to the highbrows."

He listens as Remington continues to explain his faux pas, watching as he palms his pride and joy like an overprotective mother. Instinct tells him, however, not to worry. Thus, he remains relaxed.

"You're a chef?"

If there is one thing he understands, it is weed. His relationship with the stuff is longstanding, and Derek knows each and every little detail. This low hanging fruit in the kitchen comes from the small grow room he has in the back pantry, kept under lock and key. They are merely coming into themselves, as his first New York batch.

The fresher, the better.

"I'm going to level with you, uh..." he realizes he has no idea what the man's name is, but carries on despite this. "The only thing I know about anything is weed. It's the dragon to my Khaleesi, and how I make my living. I have a farm and shop in California, a satellite in Colorado... but this is new. This isn't just edibles. This is a dining experience of particular tastes and I need for this to go well."

He needs it, of course, because he continuously is getting audited in his other businesses and one wrong move would bring the whole house down.

"...I also want to trick my sh-thead brother into getting stoned, because he's a cop and that's funny."

Taking another puff, he holds it out in offering.

"There isn't a single f-cking person that has come in here and been willing to work with my sh-t yet. So if you are telling me that you can cook, and you are willing to do it with my ganja, then I am going to tell you that my kitchen is f-cking yours."

He pauses.

"...So long as you don't have a history in food poisoning."

The f-ck is this guys name, again?
October 27, 2018 10:20 am

Remington Agnes

“A chef.” His head bobbed up and down, the extra affirmation seemingly necessary. Rem was in his element, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t still nervous. That was made even more apparent by the fact that he hadn’t even offered up his name before completely derailing the guy’s kitchen.

He wasn’t one to interrupt, however, opting instead to listen attentively. His Game of Thrones reference didn’t go unnoticed, procuring a small smirk from Rem easily.

The expression faltered though, his resolve growing weaker and weaker as the stakes were piled on. The idea of jeopardizing this man’s dream with his instability had him reconsidering, leaning heavily toward removing himself entirely from the situation.

As expected, Remi broke her silence. You’re getting better, Rem. You can do this, you just need to trust yourself.

She’d always be his undeserved advocate, the voice in the back of his mind - literally - that kept him from losing himself. Ironically, he’d certainly be insane without her.

The last quip caught his attention, and he laughed amicably. “No food poisoning, promise. I have references, if you’d like to call them.”

A minute shake of his head acted as the polite decline of the joint; for reasons, Rem could never alter his state of mind. It would be detrimental for himself, but more importantly, everyone around him.

Sighing preemptively, he started at the top, intending on working his way through the list of concerns. His thought process was meticulous, his memory, astounding.

“My name is Remington Agnes, but please, call me Rem.” The tacked on afterthought was almost a plea.

“I’ve been cooking my entire life, I take great pride in what I do. As such, you’ll never have to worry about the quality of my food. I find it’s wildly underrated and ignored, the things that we put into our body. It’s an art and a science, all in one. I think we can marry the two very well, and everyone that walks through that door will have a mind-blowing experience.”

Rem’s vote of confidence was well earned.

“I will, however, need your help in the department of taste-testing. Not so much for the taste itself, but for the effects. I can’t do it myself, so.” The man didn’t leave room for further inquiry; it wasn’t something he could budge on.

“I suppose the final question, if you’re still willing to have me, is what do you need from me? Information? A menu? Do you already have a menu?”
November 08, 2018 04:11 pm

Derek Norse

"Rem," Derek nods, squinting despite his already droopy gaze. Admittedly, he's been smoking all morning, if only to keep his anxieties at bay. There may be some judging happening here, but only some.

It's just hard to get a read on people that aren't high functioning stoners.

Still, this dude is confident, and it makes Derek feel all the better. His requests are few, and easy to meet. His questions, however...

"I know just the person who would be happy to be your guinea pig." That person, of course, is a woman. A specific woman that does nothing but run around in his t-shirts and smoke all his weed. He isn't quite sure that he has ever seen her sober, and he isn't complaining.

His Ghostie is perfect, just the way she is.

The rest of this, however, has Derek feeling just a little helpless. And just a bit stupid.

"Uh..." He coughs to hide his grimace at the thought of failing in the food department. "I.. well, I have pizza..."

Derek gestures toward the freezer, as if that alone might save him.

A deep breath is taken, and he runs a hand through his short hair before giving Remington a completely helpless look. "I don't know sh-t about what people like to eat, dude. Like, look at me. I realize, yes, that I'm like f-cking Adonis... but that," he points toward the freezer once more, with conviction, "is fine f-cking dining in my book."

He's overwhelmed, it's true.

"I can't even pick out wine. Who drinks wine? But apparently, wealthy people love wine. So here I am, doing more things I'm not qualified to do. Why can't more people just drink beer? Coors has far more substance. F-ck. I'd take Natty Ice over wine."

Dear, sweet Remington... please don't judge him too harshly. His palate is unrefined, and he is in desperate need of a foodie intervention before his age catches up with his eating habits.
November 10, 2018 10:20 am

Remington Agnes

"We're not... We're not serving frozen pizza."

Rem was already shaking his head, though he wouldn't go so far, yet, to explain that they wouldn't be needing a freezer at all. He didn't believe in frozen food, and it had no place in a restaurant. This man would learn that, one way or another.

It was when he began to fall apart that Rem took full stock of the situation. Truthfully, he'd been afraid to accept the job for fear of ruining the man's dream, but it would seem that he was well on his way himself. Not for lack of trying, but for lack of knowledge. That fact was only cemented further when he pointed toward his prized freezer holding his sacred pizza rolls and had the gall to refer to it as fine dining.

Rem suppressed the urge to laugh out loud.

Without hesitation, he set the kettle and pulled a tea bag from the pocket of his shirt. Anyone that had the pleasure of getting to know Rem would soon learn that he always carried certain random food items with him damn near all the time. This time proved no exception. Busying himself as the man he'd surely soon come to find out was Derek continued with his meltdown, he was only pulled from his workings when the harsh whistle sounded that the water was ready. The mug prepped, the tea bag set, the water poured, he placed the hot mug in the anxious being's hands and ushered him out the door.

"Drink this, it'll calm you. You're coming with me, so I hope your schedule is cleared for the day."

He didn't care, regardless.

As he hailed a taxi, he explained as best he could. "There are different wines and different beers that pair well with food. If you do it right, you can have both. Women tend to lean toward wine, and men, beer, so it's best to appeal to both sexes equally. Trust me, you don't want to accidentally turn into a dive."

Rem placed the man in the backseat and claimed the passenger, making idle small talk with the driver to allow Derek a moment of respite.

It was a long drive to his regular haunt, a winery/brewery deep in the rural parts of New York. He was well-known in the respectable place, if only because he'd spent a lot of time studying the art of what had Derek so nervous. Again, Rem didn't partake himself, but one should be knowledgeable in all tricks of their chosen trade. At the door, he was greeted amicably.

"Remington! It's been too long, I was wondering if you'd moved out of state."

He grinned, almost sheepishly. "Not yet, Isaac, just in between jobs for a bit, there. Speaking of, I need a tasting room, if you could spare it?"

"For you, my friend, anything." Rem had supplied the place with much business from the restaurants he worked for, and those ties remained wholly in tact, to this day.

"Excellent, I appreciate it. We're working on creating a menu, and we need good pairing ideas to get started. Oh, this is my new boss, uh...." He faltered, only just realizing he had no idea the name of the man he now worked for. Setting his mismatched gaze on him, he prompted wordlessly.
November 14, 2018 07:10 pm
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