For the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting excerpts from the Graduation Present. I’ve chosen these excerpts based on early reader feedback. I hope you enjoy them!
The following scene takes place in a Parisian restaurant where the main character (Riley O’Tannen) is having dinner with her chaperone (the wealthy, mysterious and very gay Lou Raferman) and Mrs. C. (an English acquaintance and founding member of the Deadly Dames Book Club)
“How do you say ‘you are such wonderful waiters’?” I asked Lou, interrupting their conversation. He arched his eyebrows.
“How many glasses of wine have you had, my dear?”
“Oh, I dunno. They just keep giving me more.”
“Well, perhaps you should pace yourself. The main course is next and it’s something you want to save your palate for. People make reservations months in advance just to taste Chef Michel’s lapin au jus!”
Lapin, I thought. What the heck was that? Before I had a chance to ask, the main course arrived. The lump of browned meat on my plate slightly resembled a very plump chicken thigh. It was covered with sauce and dressed with grilled celery.
“Doesn’t ‘lapin’ mean ‘rabbit’?” I asked Lou.
“No, it means ‘Hare,’” he replied rather stiffly.
I poked the meat with my fork. It jiggled. Not only did they expect me to eat a bunny, but an underdone bunny. A bunny butchered by some horrible man in a dirty apron, then hung outside a shop to drip blood onto the sidewalk. Once it had had soft fur and a funny little nose. Once it had hopped merrily through fields doing harm to no one. Then it was slaughtered.
“I can’t eat this,” I said to the waiter. “I’m too full. J’ai trop mange.” The waiter looked at me aghast.
“My dear, it’s the chef’s signature dish! You must eat it.” Lou commanded, “Mange, mange!”
“It’s a bunny, Mr. Raferman. A bunny!”
“It is a hare and you must eat it!”
I began to sob. “I can’t.” Tears ran down my face and onto the bunny. The waiter grabbed my plate.
“Végétarienne!” He sniffed. Lou’s mouth fell open. He glanced towards the kitchen as though at any moment the chef would emerge with a cleaver. Then he stood up, threw money on the table, and announced we were leaving.
Motto: If you insult the chef in Paris, run for your life.