The Gecko Tail

Sandy needed some time off. The events of that morning shook her the more she thought about it. Hannah was the kind to do whatever she wanted, abusing her powers to hurt the town on a whim. The idea that she was so close to Sandy in disguise for that long gave her a shiver every time. If it weren’t for Miko, Hannah would have been in and out of the café with no one noticing… Or perhaps worse.

As they fixed the toppled chairs and tables, Sandy had a chance to talk to the other, thankfully real, customers that day and they recommended a brand new restaurant that opened after the trains came back and a whole new Fable denizen was raising the bar of Fable’s cuisine.

Why not… I have enough gold now. Kona should be back any moment. I’ll invite Miko too, she deserves it. I wish Jill were in town. But I can take her another time.

Miko was quick to agree. She told Sandy she was looking for an excuse to go but really didn’t like going to restaurants alone. Sandy felt so content when Miko admitted she was going to ask Sandy to go that day, had they not bumped into Hannah.

Oh, you found out about that place? I’m totally going. But don’t offer to pay for me, I never hold back on Maxine’s meals. *giggle!* Consider yourself spoiled tonight. If this place is any good, I’ll bring you back when you get your dream job, too. Thanks. Oh wow, and Kona too? Big spender. Hey! What’re you two doing out here? Train’s done for the night. Nothing’s keeping me from crashing around a campfire. Not even a free meal at the Gecko Tail? Hey-look-at-that, a couple of magic words! Sandy the Sorceress Supreme. And for our next trick, we’re going to make plates of food… Disappear! Heck yeah! Come on you two… I hope there isn’t a line but we should go as soon as we can.

The Gecko Tail was on the train station’s side of town. The owner had bought one of Fable’s unassuming Tudor buildings and threw up a sign above the door which admittedly didn’t match. It was too chic and modern for Fable, but Sandy did love the strong ribbon of yellow behind and through the lettering. And not like that was all there was to it. There was a crowd and Sandy’s heart sank a little as she imagined having to tell they others she didn’t know you needed reservations. Luckily, they weren’t.

Wait time is ten minutes. We’re opening up the second floor now. We’re uh… not taking any applications, though. No. No… I just came off work, sorry. I’m glad it’s not as busy as last time. This isn’t busy?! Yeah. I bet the whole town was here just a few nights ago. I caught a few tips busking out front. Wow… the food must be amazing. That and Fable’s not really used to the idea. Before it pretty much was groceries or the café. Or a garden. I wish I had time for a garden… But I like the café too much anyway.

When the three of them were called, Sandy got to see the inside for the first time. The reason this building was picked was immediately clear. It had one large open room like a theater and many long tables were set up for communal dining. The interior was lit by a roaring fire along one wall and dozens of candles spread through what would normally be a very dark room with no light in the windows. Heavy iron chandeliers hung high overhead, looking like big metal wagon wheels with tall stalks of white wax on each spoke. Sandy tried to see as much as of this place as she could while they were being escorted and caught a small glimpse of the kitchen as she passed, just enough to see all the people back there working frantically to handle a busy night. Her heart went out to them. A woman burst out from the kitchen door beside them, with a rack of ribs so large it could feed a family held high on a silver tray. She was dressed in a traditional chef’s outfit, complete with a billowing white hat that hung heavy behind her.

Bon appétit! But what are all these uniforms doing in my establishment? A conductor, a police officer, and a maid wander into a restaurant? Sounds like the start of a bad joke… But no- no… It can’t be a coincidence. This is the start of something special!

Sandy had no idea what she’d done, but the woman was positively animated around her. She threw her hands out and pirouetted behind Sandy, twisting a chair from the larger communal table to a smaller circular one, making the three her group needed. She then twisted the chair behind Sandy like she was introducing a dance partner and pulled it in so quickly Sandy slid into her place at the table. Miko and Kona sat themselves before she got any ideas.

Whoa! Have a seat, charming maid. And welcome to the Gecko Tail. T-thank you! Kinda weird name, though. Why do you call it The Gecko Tail? Because that’s where Geckos keep the food!

The woman flicked her tail up so hard that the bulk of it slammed on the table like a briefcase. She was the kind of gecko to have a really, really big tail. Her point made, she seemed lost in a daydream right in the middle of speaking to them, twisting away and talking to herself as she circled.

Not even appetizers have been served and already the questions begin, an investigation? An interrogation? What’s the rabbit’s part in this plot I wonder… someone to spirit me away if my answers are wrong? But the fox is the most curious, a fan perhaps? Wishing to work and dressed for the job she wants, not the job she has? Uhh… I mean, I can take you somewhere if you have a ticket… Oh those tickets are a blessed gift, are they not? I wanted the perfect place to open my new restaurant and one just fluttered to my feet. A sign from the divine most sublime! Oh so you’re the owner! Yes, I am the great Leona. And it’s time for me to ask the questions. What challenge will you put before me? Could we have a menu? Pah. Menus are so limiting. My staff has learned to stand tall and work on their feet! Challenge me to make something, anything, and I will make it happen. … How? You can make anything we ask? That sounds like a kitchen nightmare.

And that’s where it really got weird. Leona turned from them yet again and talked as if no one was there at all, but instead of just circling back, she carried herself up into a frenzy! She ran up one of her own chairs and struck a dramatic pose on one of the tables!

That discounts my theory, no one who admired me would not know my hatred of menus. What is a menu but an admittance you can’t do better?! A laundry list of practiced, boring dishes you’ve made a thousand times before. I am not some short-order cook flipping eggs and fried dough. No~ Oh~ No~! I am Leona! The greatest chef to have ever lived!
So no, realizing my potential is not a ‘nightmare’, it is the expected level of challenge I need to keep from growing bored. Now, young officer, conductor, and maid… Challenge me.

Sandy was frozen up by such a demand. She didn’t know any fancy dishes because they’d always been beyond her reach. She twitter her thumbs while her friends answered.

So, uh… Got any veggie dishes? You’d probably like ratatouille. Gesundheit? A medley of succulent summer vegetables baked to perfection. A classic, but hardly a challenge. Trust me. I’ll have that… to start. And you…? Steak and eggs with roast tomatoes and a baked potato. Medium rare. Effortless. A touch of fatty and acidic toppings on a mountain of savory delights. A tale as old as time, but not very imaginative. Yeesh. You know, for free steak and eggs I’m willing to put up with a lot tonight. Ho hum. And you? Fried chicken? Fried. Chicken. The poster child of fast food… Aside from uuggh… Burgers. It’s… my favorite. I haven’t had it in forever. I’d get a great big carton of it on the way back from work sometimes and- even if it’s not that hard to make, it’s what I want most. What am I to do with this? My reputation would be in shambles if I made fast food at The Gecko Tail. What’s the matter, spotty? Scared? What-? If it’s so hard, I guess that means you can’t really make anything your customers ask for. Swing for the fences! Make the best fried chicken in the world. Very well. The great Leona does not back down. If I will not be challenged by the technical execution of these orders… I shall elevate them by quality alone! Brace your senses for the coming storm! A whirlwind of flavor approaches!

Sandy slumped in her chair when the gecko finally left. Miko and Kona thankfully took it well and helped her relax.

What a character, huh? You’re cold as ice, girl. Does anything rub your fur the wrong way? Eh. Not much is really worth getting mad over. I remember serving people who would just flip out if the slightest thing went wrong. I don’t think I ever could do that to someone, not even Leona the great or whatever. You gotta give her that look Elizabeth taught you. Where’s my fried chicken?! AAUGH! When did that happen?! Haha! Yeeeeah. Hah! Wow. *giggle* Thanks for coming, you two. Welcome to the Gecko Tail. What will you be having? A salad will do. I’m only here for a short while. Then expedience shall be on the menu, if we had such a thing. Anything to drink? Can you make a fine doppelbock?