Dr. Krugger glances absently at the menu, without really looking. He wants noddles, and nothing else, but the chinese waitress has another plan. She always has. Looking intently into the doctor's eyes, she diagnoses:
- Nooddles, no no no, Sil... The coloul of youl colnea say youl system is lacking on calcium and fibel, Sil... May I leccomend anothel thing, Sil?
She is quite attractive, although some self-imposed neutrality in her deamenor takes away some of her potential splendor. While examining Krugger's cornea, she sounded both doctoral and playful.
Dr. Krugger knows her, and likes her way. She has that particular blend of nutritional knowledge and typical asian modesty the doctor finds intoxicately erotic. He has been here a number of times. Lately, almost every lunch and dinner. Not that he likes particularly chinese cuisine. He likes her. He calls her Lu, in his fantasies. Dr. Krugger has plans for Lu.
The atmosphere is hot. The mixed aromas of the kitchen fill the restaurant area. It is very hot outside, the air conditioning is off, to save money, and the bag the doctor carries let out a faint rotten smell.
Dr. Krugger works as an anatomic pathologist. Recent events in his life, namely a divorce, have forced him to take a second job in another hospital, in order to help him pay his many bills. Yes, in the league of Dr. Krugger, more autopsies and more post-mortem organ exams mean more money. Besides, he supplies under the table selected body parts from unclaimed corpses to some unscrupulous members of the Medical Sciences Academia, a function that helps him greatly to balance his checking account at the end of each month.
Many would think that in this type of job you do not take work home. But unfortunately, this is not the case for Dr. Krugger. And this is precisely one of the most stressful parts among his duties. Not only for him. The former Msr. Krugger could not take it anymore. The sight of her kitchen turned into a gore laboratory was too much for her. But, alas, she was a vegetarian, it needs to be said.
-I am always open to your suggestion, dear lady. It would be very unwise on my part to disregard the accumulated wisdom of your ancient civilization, specially in matters concerned with health and nutritional science...
He smiles with charm, and the smile is about all Lu understands of all his parlament. She smiles back. The man is always nice with her. She looks at the doctor's bag, and represses all but the briefest grin of dismay.
He should have thought about this. He should have taken the bag home and put it into the fridge... But the urge to see Lu was stronger. Besides, he did not expect this liver would start rotting so fast. "Maybe the hospital refrigerator needs to be switched to the maximum power during the summer months. Or perhaps the liver was already rotten when the guy was still alive. Some people don't know how to drink with moderation, really", he thinks, half-amused.
-In my opinion, Sil, youl system would be bettel with oul chinese almonds and cucumbel stlips, and oul tofu chunks in spicy and numbing sauce. With some white lice and gleen spouts, Sil?
-Yes, yes, whatever you say, Lu... Lady. That will be allright. And tell me... how do you like it your work here?
-Yes, Sil, good, Sil.
-Come on, take some time and speak to me, won't you? And you don't need to call me "sir", please. My name is Alfred, Freddy if you want. And yours is...
-... Well Sil, wolk it is vely tiling, Sil, and the Boss ask to wolk a lot, many houls, Sil, always wolking, no flee day to lest, no Sil ...
She looks sideways to the kitchen door, as if checking the flow of orders, in truth trying to locate the boss to avoid being caught in conversation. Boss is a mean man.
At times, this gracious waitress feels somewhat limited in her understanding of the english speech, particularly when it goes beyond the limits of the restaurant menu. But she tries, she tries... Actually she studies hard at night, and is already showing some proficiency in her understanding. When she feels no pressure, she can have quite decent conversations.
-My name is Fred... Freddy. What is your name?
The girl smiles widely, losing that air of learnt officiality that threatened to neutralize her beauty. Krugger is thrilled. It is as if her whole being was suddenly taken by a charming spirit of the forest.
-My name is Lu Lin, Sil Fleddy. Lin means folest. Please let me take youl oldel to the kitchen, and I will be back soon.
The good doctor cannot believe the coincidence. He thought that idea about the spirit of the forest, and two seconds after, she says that about her surname, without being asked. Krugger looks at her figure as she walks away. "Amazing", he thinks. "There must be a billion names in China, but hers had to be Lu. Lu Lin". His reflexions don't take more time, because the odour coming from his bag is growing more and more noticeable. He is angry with himself for not foreseeing that possibility.
He tries to seal better the bag, using another auxiliary plastic he carries in his suitcase. But his movements only succeed attracting the attention of other clients, who had already noticed the nauseating smell.
Krugger is tired of his stressful life. Every day like this, running from one hospital to the other, carrying organs, working at home at late hours, in a lousy laboratory he managed to improvise in his own kitchen...
This is not a life. His system is crying for some relief. She looks at the kitchen doors and catches Lu's figure, speeding up with professional flair, carrying in her porcelaine hands one million orders, in her face the most charming and effortless smile. Krugger feels the excitement mounting, and suddenly he envisions the solution for his problems. Time to talk to Lu. Miss Forest. With some luck, maybe take her home. Now or never.
The girl darts with elegance among the tables, like a telecommanded rocket, delivering with precision in each table the fruits of the Chinese Garden. Krugger marvels at her speed without rush, the efficient elegance of her movements, her personal, corteous service, without excessive cordiality nor subservience.
Above all, he feels a desire to spend some quality time with her. That's the thing. Quality time. At last.
Lu has left Krugger's order to be the last one. The doctor takes it as a privilege, and gets ready to seize his opportunity.
She arrives to his right side, smiling, looks at the man briefly in his eyes, and starts reciting the names of the dishes. Just as she always does. But today she is not performing her machine-like declamation. Krugger notices a very faint undertone of grace and subtle intention in her voice, something mildly seductive. Discreet, but so powerful.
-Thank you so much, Lu Lin. I am delighted by your grace and ease at waiting all these tables by yourself. Listen, I have some things to ask you. Would you please sit down with me?
Lu looks around. She won't be needed soon. Family conversations have drawn to an halt, as every table initiates the milenary ritual of opening spring rolls, filling them with soja sauce, sharing sweet and sour delights, tasting Pekin ducks and chop-sueys. Everyone seems busy. The boss is out. She sits down facing the man. She smiles sweetly.
-I will try to be clear and simple, Lu. You are not happy here. I need an assistant. You seem to be a very bright girl. I suspect your education went well beyond waiting tables, with all due respect.
-Yes, Sil Fleddy. I have a Mastel in Nutlitional Science, and I am a doctol. Chinese medicine. Beijing Univelsity.
-This is marvellous! Well, well... I greet you as a colleague! I am a anatomic pathologist, work in two different hospitals. I often need to carry... well... parts of my work, if you know what I mean, from one place to another, also to home, at night. I have build there a modest laboratory, but it needs reforms and maintenance. And juggling everything is too much for myself.
He looks to the stinky bag at their side. She smiles, looking very happy.
-You would be perfect in assisting me in that logistic, and probably also as a qualified laboratory collaborator, at home. I will gladly double the pay you are getting here, more if I can, depending on how business goes. I would be glad if you accept my offer of a room in my house, free of charge. What do you say?
She does not answer immediately, but she looks as if she had already made a decision.
-Well, if you accept, we have two options: you share this wonderful food with me. But before, please would you place this bag on your best refrigerator? If you don't mind. Then after the meal, you can quit the job, say goodbye to Banana si-fa and ducklin crepes. Second option: forget the fridge, and we will take the food home, in the purest chinese style.
Lu has understood everything, and smiles with her most enchanting smile. She picks up a tofu chunk with her fingers and eats it with delight. She is simple and behaves without any artifice. Krugger understands that her tiniest gesture will bring wordless meaning to their brand-new world.
-I like you much, Fleddy. You can say you like me too. I know you do.
She tooks an almond with delicate fingers and put it slowly in her mouth. Krugger is speechless. She stands, takes the liver bag.
-Please stalt. I am going to lemove this stupid unifolm, put youl meat on the flidge, and I will be back... You ale leally a vely handsome man. I take the job.