Double Drabbles: “Basra” and “Kitchen Nightmares”

Cards and Wine

Gobelen surveyed the cards in the floor. The deck was nearly used up, it would not be long until the game was finished. He and Alhana kept all their cards floating around them while they moved in a continuous circle around each other. This did nothing to distract either player, but the motion was part of the game.

Alhana spoke up. “If I win our bet you must bring the sons of Japeth with you. They have a role as much as you do.”

Gobelen stopped moving but kept his cards floating. “The sons of Japeth?”

“Surely you sensed the blood of your old friend in your newfound companions.” She put the jack of spades down and picked up the remaining cards in the floor. “The deck is used up. Must we bother with tallying points?”

Gobelen let his cards fall absently. “No. I cede the victory to you, and will meet you in Jerusalem as we agreed. Only give me time to make the arrangements I deem necessary.”


I wanted to enjoy being in Jerusalem, really I did. It was the ultimate spiritual experience waiting to happen. But… from our place in the kitchen, it was also the single worst place on earth at that moment. I nearly cut myself trying to peal grapes for the roast qual Veronique while also keeping an eye on the sauce for the braised lamb shanks. I was doing okay until I looked at Jonathan and saw the bread he was preparing had caught fire. In a blind panic I poured a pitcher of beer over it. After that I just stood there. I tried counting to ten, but still lost it and blurted “Promise me that no matter what I say in the future this is the. Last. Time. We cook out of the Nero Wolfe Cook Book. I don’t care how many genies we’re serving.” I turned my neck to see a bottle of the finest wine I’d had in my life on its side spilling onto the table. “And haven’t you ever heard of putting the cork back in the wine bottle?”

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