What You Always Wanted

Sandy had worked in a kitchen before and she knew how difficult custom, off-the-menu orders could be. You may have promised ingredients you don’t have or don’t have the skill to make what they asked for just right. The idea that Leona could make anything that anyone in the village asked for was ludicrous. To Sandy, it was somehow more ridiculous than flying trains and mist that could read your thoughts. It was closer and more personal to the things she grew up knowing. Sandy mentally prepared apologies for her friends, expecting whatever to come through those doors to be a tenth of what Leona promised.

C’mon, everyone else looks like they’re having a good time. I think I’m Sandy’s “I’ll believe it when I see it” camp. I mean, how would you even do that? You’d need every kind of meat, every single shape of pasta, every single vegetable and somehow keep it fresh… How?! That couple got spare ribs. And I swear that’s fondue over there. So I think we’ve got a good chance! Man, how long has it been since I was in a restaurant? Like, sitting at a table… I’ve been in that corner over there a few times. Me too… I mean, I worked in one, but I only ever got the kitchen leftovers. You could go to a grocery store instead and get enough food for a week with the same amount of money. Things aren’t that much different here… Really? Yeah. Being a mail dog doesn’t pay a lot. So I don’t really eat out a lot either… Unless you count Maxine… She pays me in real big meals when she takes all my time with her packages. Why doesn’t she just… pay you more? Because I work for Fable. It doesn’t matter if there’s one postcard or a thousand packages. I get a few silver every week, just like everyone else. Maxine just likes to apologize for sending like… nine hundred ninety nine of those packages. I eat at her house all the time. Not everyone gets a windfall of gold for kicking the crud out of a slime cow. Just sayin’. Haha- OH! OH! That’s gotta be it!

Leona had a way of carrying herself that no one else in the village did. She appeared from the kitchen with a burst of speed and yet had the poise of a trained dancer, holding a silver platter wider than her shoulders over her head with just one hand. She moved between chairs and around tables via the shortest path and closed on Sandy’s table with grace, lowering the tray perfectly in between the three of them as if it was lighter than air. Despite her immense arrogance when taking their order, she chose to bow.

Your orders. I will spare you the inconvenience of appearing a second time. I know your food is perfect and will not need to validate that.

Leona threw up one hand as if casting that inconvenience over her shoulder and looked down at the three meals with imperious boredom.

And even though it requires I debase this establishment with fried food, I will never shirk from a challenge. The great Leona will- Thanks for the effort… It smells wonderful. You are welcome. Payment will be handled when you exit the establishment.

Sandy had just bitten into the best fried chicken she’d ever tasted. It was layers of different experiences and each was fighting the others for the right to be recognized. The seasoning was slightly spicy and garlicky. The skin was crispy and yet not dry. And the meat was so moist that Sandy could taste flecks of sea salt amid what had to be a custom brine made only for this dish. Sandy’s eyes widened to the point she could see stars zooming by in her vision, until the tears of joy she experienced forced her to blink and brought her back to reality.

Must be good chimkin. Ya huh.

The surprise of the first bite was wearing off. Sandy and the other girls didn’t say a word after tucking into their meals for ten whole minutes. Kona wanted to take it extra slow, eating each colorful vegetable at a time and savoring it. She’d forget her fork was in her mouth too while she savored it, giving Sandy a window into what her face must have looked like a moment ago.

In the background was the sound of Miko’s wagging. Her face was just as mute when she took a bite of a perfectly cooked medium rare steak, dripping with its own special sauce and yellow yolk combined, but she couldn’t control her fluffy tail from making a warm drumbeat on her chair. When they were about half done were they full enough to take a break and sit back.

Wow… I’m so sorry, Maxine. Yeah… I’m sorry for all of us. Nothing we eat’s gonna matter anymore. I would have been happy with just a steak, any steak, but this is the best I’ve ever had! Oh my gosh it’s like meaty butter… I’d listen to “The Great Leona” speech a dozen times to get to this chicken… Gotta loosen the belt here… You girls thinking seconds? If I chip in, can we get drinks? Yeah! Let’s splurge a little… No idea when we’re coming back, right?

But what happened next, Sandy couldn’t have predicted. She distantly heard an argument somewhere to her right but actually listening would have meant not thinking about glorious… glorious chicken.

As much as I’d like to argue on what makes a proper german beer with you, I have something I must attend to. Philistine. With how many strange customers we’ve had here today, I can only assume this is a conspiracy. But what would some poorly dressed white cat ordering nothing but beer in a restaurant contribute to the big picture, Leona? Think! Yes, gorge yourselves. This will take but a moment.
The ticket to my dreams…

Kona had undone her belt and moved her watch out into the open while she adjusted. A white furred paw slid across the table quickly enough that Kona didn’t see. Miko and Sandy did, though. But all they could do was yell as the cat turned in a flash and went into a full sprint.

My watch! Get back here! I’m afraid not, you soiled pillowcase! Hannah! Aaaahaha- Wait-

An immense bulbous tail flung out into Hannah’s way. Her cat form shimmered and receded as she slammed into the ground face first and slid along the waxed wooden floors. Hannah was forced to transform back into her normal self as a second swipe of the enormous tail smashed into her and sent her flying onto a table. Leona raised her hand up and snapped her fingers loud enough that it could be heard over the rising din of panicking guests.

*SNAP* OOF! No one tries to dine and dash in The Gecko Tail! As if I would pay for such a cheap imitation… Hmmph! You dare~! No amount of skill can replicate the soul your beer lacks. I would have preferred warm soda. I promise to deliver you a fresh one to your cell. Grab her. You can try… But I must insist you- Pick on someone your own size.