It was our turn to go get lunch. Everyone decided on Wendy's, so we got in the truck and started heading over there. Instead of pulling into the parking lot, he decided to keep going, because he had a better lunch idea.
"Steaks," he said to me, "fast food ain't no real lunch. It's gotta be steaks." I nodded my agreement, and we headed off to get some steaks. He drove by several grocery stores, and I watched them go by but didn't point it out.
"I want fresh steaks," he said, as though I'd pointed it out.
We pulled up to this ramshackle butcher shop and went inside. He was going to get the steaks, and I was going to procure the slaw. I went over to the counter where they sold the cold salads, and the old lady told me that they were fresh out of slaw just now, but if I wanted to wait an hour, they'd have some made up. I told her never-mind and went back to the meat counter where he had only ordered four steaks.
"We need five, Hip. You're forgetting Tanya," I reminded him.
"Make it five, Mister," he told the butcher, and he disappeared through the vertical plastic strips with the loin to cut us up five filets. While we were waiting, I told him there was no slaw, and that it would take an hour to make some more. I was itching to get back because we'd already been gone an hour and a half, and I knew our boss was gonna have fits as soon as we walked in.
He said he knew a place on the way back that had good slaw, and black eyed peas too, so we'd hit that place up when we left. The butcher came back and passed the steaks to us wrapped up neatly in spotless white paper. I always wondered how they kept that paper so crisp and white, with no evidence of the blood and carnage it concealed.
As the butcher rang us up I realized i'd forgotten to take up everyone's money, so I paid for half and he paid for half and we'd collect when we got back.
"How're we gonna cook these?"
He didn't answer. I climbed back into the truck with my neat little white package and glanced at my watch again; we'd been gone two hours now. It was one thirty, and Steve would have left by the time we got back; poor Steve. Working all day and not getting any lunch.
We pulled up to this little hole and he went inside to buy some slaw and peas. I waited out in the truck, wondering if the bunsen burner would cook a steak well enough or would it just burn the outside. I was kind of excited to try, because we'd never had occasion to use that bunsen burner as long as I'd been working there.
He tossed some bags over to me and hopped in behind them. They smelled like edible divinity.
"You cain't cook a steak over that thing," he said as though I'd suggested it out loud. As we drove back to the lab, he tried to convince me that if I douse the steak in enough worcestershire sauce, it would seem done and I wouldn't know the difference.
"Like how they do fish for sushi up in lime juice", he concluded. I was skeptical.