Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Quest: Thin slices
“What do you mean, you cannot find the rice or pressure cooker?” Steve shouted.
Snow jetted through the gaps between the boards of the old barn as if driven by a sand-blaster.
Steve had fed the horses and watered them from the keg they had filled during the day.
Sally had frantically gone through the contents of the wagon looking for the food and the cooking vessels. She had not found them.
Sally stated the obvious. “They aren’t here.”
“What the hell. I gave you one job to do and you couldn’t even do that.” Steve said with cutting sarcasm.
“For your information, Mister. You don’t give me jobs. We are partners. Right?” Sally shouted back.
In fact, both were extremely irritable. They were both cold, and hungry and...hurting.
“You were closer to the food and kitchen when we broke camp this morning. I assumed you put them in the wagon” Sally said.
“Why would I do that. You are the cook. The cook takes care of the kitchen.” Steve shouted back.
Both of them fumbled and fumed in the gathering dark. Traveling the remaining five miles to Ottumwa was out of the question. The blizzard was a total white-out. They had barely been able to see the barn, and that was well before sunset.
It looked to be a very cold, very hungry night. Bodies make heat by shivering. Shivering takes calories. At this point, neither Sally or Steve had any excess body weight. Shivering would burn muscle mass.
After cooling off, quite literally, for the better part of an hour, Sally observed “We could eat a slice of fruitcake.”
“Harrumph” Steve said. “Not edible, even in the best of times.”
“That is just because you don’t know how to eat fruitcake” Sally said, surprising him.
“What do you mean? How many ways can there be to eat it” Steve said, interested in spite of himself.
“You have to slice it thin. Some things in life are better in thin slices, and fruitcake is one of them” Sally said.
“Bullshit” Steve said, enjoying himself. “Name one other thing that is better in thin slices.
Sally thought a minute. “Peppermint schnapps, Habenaros and butter.”
“Yech!” Steve said. “Mixed all together?”
“No, stupid” Sally said. “One at a time. You don’t guzzle Peppermint schnapps or Habenaros and you don’t eat a stick of butter like a banana.”
“So, how thin would you have me slice this fruitcake?” Steve asked. He was VERY cold.
“I dunno. Maybe a quarter inch” Sally said.
“But maybe we should just cut the end off and eat that. It would be a shame to have traveled all this distance only have crumbs to give them.” Sally said.
At this point, in the dark and shivering, Steve was game for anything.
He sawed an inch-and-a-half from the end of the heavy, eight inch block of cake. Then, from the cut face of the end he had removed from the cake, he shaved a piece slightly thinner than a quarter inch.
He broke it and gave half to Sally. Then he started nibbling his piece.
“I hate to admit it, but I think you are right. This is almost edible when you slice it thin” Steve conceded.
“Another, please” Sally said.
Steve complied with alacrity.
The second slice was even better.
Steve’s knife encountered something hard on the third slice. “Must be a nutshell” Steve said, moving his knife over another quarter inch.
It wasn’t a nut shell.
It was hard to tell in the dark, but Steve judged the three rings that had been baked into their end of the cake to be gold based on their weight. Morning light would confirm that fact.
Sally added the rings to her necklace, next to the vaccine culture vials. She was NOT going to lose these. They very carefully wrapped up the six-and-a-half inches of fruitcake that remained. Frankly, they did not want to know what else was baked in it. Too much temptation is a bad thing.
The storm had abated enough by morning that they could break camp and look for the missing Amish family somewhere south of Ottumwa.