He believed that truth and fairness did matter. Lies should be exposed. Divine Fury. Chapter 47
March 30, 2013
A VG Serial: Divine Fury
IF AN ALIEN warship hovered over a trattoria in a working-class neighborhood in, say, Rome, beamed up the entire place – including the four waiters and two cooks – and then dropped it next to the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco’s North Beach, the result might be something similar to Caffé Ravioli.
The place was tiny. The downstairs dining room off busy Columbus Avenue held eight small tables. There were four more tables upstairs you could only reach by passing the doorway to the kitchen and negotiating a tiny staircase. The little second-floor room had a pressed metal ceiling half a foot lower than any reasonable building code would allow, and offered a long, thin window along the Columbus side that was usually propped open.
The food was more Italian working class than urban gourmet. And the wine was more steady Italian Chianti than high-end Napa Cabernet. But if there was a short list for the “most fun” restaurant in San Francisco, Ravioli would be on it. On more than one occasion, Lee had joined the wine, music and waiters spilling out of the restaurant at evening’s end and danced on the sidewalk with other late-night revelers passing by.
Strolling through the door to a chorus of “Buonasera! Buonasera!” and smelling the mix of garlic, basil and grilling seafood borne on the heat from the ovens was enough to put him in a good mood. Even better was seeing Lorraine standing by the cash register counter chatting with a waiter. She’d had time after work to change into red-orange jeans, a black turtleneck and dangling silver earrings that were set off against her dark hair which hung straight with a slight curl at the end that stopped just below her chin.
Lee moved next to Carr while the waiter finished presenting some platters of seafood – filets of sole waiting for their turn on the grill, sardines lightly sautéed in olive oil and salted that were almost the size of small trout, and a pile of green-black mussels ready for steaming in a tasty broth.
She greeted him with a long squeeze on his forearm. Lee glanced at her, a little surprised. Carr gave him a smile while still focusing on the waiter describing the dinner options.
They were shown to a table at the top of the narrow stairway.
“Wine?” asked the waiter. “Red? White?”
He left and returned with two small tumblers filled with Chianti and a promise to keep them full. Lee knew they could find a wine list somewhere if you asked for one. But it was kind of relaxing to forego the whole elaborate wine-ordering ritual for a change.
“What shall we toast?” he asked, holding his glass.
“Umm. How about to us?” said Carr. “I think we both deserve it. You’re leading the way on the Harper coverage, not to mention being a step ahead of everyone on the medical center murder. And, I’ve survived another week as city editor. Yea!”
They both took their first couple sips of the wine.
“You’ve got to have the hardest job at the newspaper,” said Lee. “You’re basically putting out the paper every day. No breaks. When do you sleep?”
“The worst part,” said Carr, “is the limitations. Not enough people. Not enough time. Every day, you basically just give up and say, ‘That’s as good as we can make it,’ and let it go. Swallow another cup of imperfection and then get ready for the next.”
“Yuck,” said Lee. “Here. Have some more wine. Get that taste out of your mouth.”
“And then, of course, there’s the management side of the job,” she continued. “I hate job reviews. Almost as much as I hate squeezing a weekend story out of a certain reporter who shall remain nameless but who covers education.”
“Ooh. Yeah,” said Lee. “I guess we are a pretty pathetic bunch. Prima donnas. Sensitive egos. Lazy.”
Carr nodded her head in agreement with each assessment.
“Don’t forget self-righteous, self-absorbed and self-deluded,” she said.
“Yeah,” said Lee. “And, add in whiny, immature, paranoid and devious. God. What a horrible bunch! I’m disgusted with us.”
“But the best thing is most of you are also funny, smart, very tender and – I almost hate to say this – but noble, too,” said Carr. “Noble in the sense that truth and fairness matter and lies should be exposed.”
“Whew!” said Lee. “I guess we aren’t so bad after all. Can we toast us again?”
“Well, I think we’ll need more wine but that’s a good idea, too,” said Carr, grinning.
The food was good but secondary to the whole scene of diners happy to be starting their weekend on a Friday night and entertained by the good-hearted quirkiness of the small establishment. The waiters were relentless and charming flirts to the man.
Chapters of the serial are published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
You can learn more about Divine Fury on Amazon.