The lifetime ban from his local takeaway was hitting Philip hard. He still liked to think of it as a boycott – a principled stance against unfair employment practices and unsafe working conditions, but the truth was he hadn’t been allowed back since he had drunkenly taken a swing at his best friend Gary while queuing for a post pub kebab some seven weeks earlier.
The two had wrestled in the dust and grease, embracing one another like lovers soon to be separated in wartime. Neither could say why exactly – it had been a perfectly lovely sunny Thursday evening spent unwinding in the beer garden discussing everything they felt was wrong with the new Ghostbusters film.
Nostalgia had buoyed their spirits as they moved onto discussing their former tormentors from school – how they were all leading unhappily balding middle-aged lives of mediocrity while Philip and Gary would soon be starting their own podcast. Things turned sour, however, after Gary admitted he had fingered Claudette, Philip’s lovely French exchange, at the Year 10 disco when Philip had been sick with shingles. Their fledgling podcast was soon forgotten as Philip seethed and festered with resentment.
Nearly two months had passed and the situation was still unbearably tense. Philip seemed to have lost his best friend, Gary hadn’t spoken to him since the undignified tussle on the floor of the Bosphorous Grill House setting up a Youtube channel without him and ignoring his pleas for reconciliation over whatsapp.
Worse though, he had been forced to cook for himself. Horrible, awful, desperate meals. Meals that shattered faith, meals that forced a man to look deep into the sickening abyss of his own soul.
Carlos at the Bosphorous Grill had always seemed so insouciant, so carefree, as he grilled the quarter pounders while smoking his gitanes and melted over the bright yellow cheese.
Philip could only sweat and struggle as patties crumbled under his graceless hands and the smell of undercooked mince seeped into his pores.
A fat tear fell from his face, soaking through the cheap white buns and marinading his otherwise unseasoned meat.
This story is part of the sad but beautiful relationship between Contemporary Food Lab and Dimly Lit Meals For One. We are happy to feature this ongoing series on the CFL Journal written by DLMFO writer, editor & producer Tom Kennedy.