“Let me tell you a story…”
And that was how Claire Mulberry learned to filet a fish, as Kaito Matsumoto intricately demonstrated the art his family had plied for 5,000 years. On a Bluefin, captured in the subarctic waters of the Tsugaru Strait, the master chef was patient and skillful in his craft.
“Remember the sea.” he told her.
His incisions were precise and executed with deftness.
“Because everything is significant.”
The incised cuts of meat were lucid. Nearly impalpable.
“Even the urchin.”
His hands were soft, peaceful, devoid of malice. The juxtaposition with their rapacious nature, bewildered.
“Do not seek glory. Seek instead to become one with all…”
Claire observed, attentive to the culinary sage.
“Glory will find you.”
And from the small fishing village in Hokkaido, to the large loft in the village of SoHo, Claire was finding it difficult to become unanimous with her surroundings, though the black grouper was a skillful 2 cm. filet, by her own hand.
“Maxwell, I am disappointed in you.” she said in a soft whisper.
Their guest had yet to remove his coat. His boots remained an aberration to their floor.
Maxwell stood close to his wife, his eyes fixed on the simmering filets.
“He has no family. No place to go…”
Claire lavished the grouper with Italian parsley and flavorful spices, evocative of carnival in its native Brazil.
She pouted, which Maxwell found deliciously irresistible.
“You don’t even know where he’s been! What kind of person disappears for five years?”
Maxwell observed his wife, who maintained a steady pace in her work. She removed the filets from the heat and prepared to lather them in a white truffle cream dressing.
“What would you have me do?”
“What should I have done?”
Claire stopped and looked at her husband.
“You should have spoken with me!”
She gathered herself.
“And besides… he does have family.”
Aware of her uncharacteristic volume, both Claire and her husband turn, to find their guest, now standing in their kitchen.
Maxwell consulted his drink.
Claire inhaled deeply.
“I just have one question.”
Benjamin was patient.
“Do you like truffle?”
Implode. Part XI – DK
They were both artists.
Both gifted, at the manipulation of a thing.
Of transforming the modest into magnificence.
But he was better.
“Claire, you remember Ben.”
As evidenced in her inability to protest, for there he was. She turned toward the wooly-haired gentleman, whose boots had sullied her immaculate floor.
She did not know what to say. She was not skilled at idle chatter. She was not thrilled.
Maxwell looked at his wife, her face glowing pink, en route to rouge.
“Ben’s going to be staying with us for awhile, dear.”
She was angry. In their three years of friendship, four years of dating, and one year of marriage, he had never made a decision so impetuously.
It was the first time, in her recollection, that he had not considered her.
Implode. Part X – DK
They were truffles.
From the Northern Italian countryside.
Giancarlo Franceschi, a farmer, poet, and ex-partisan of the Italian Resistance, met Claire and Maxwell on one of their excursions through Italy, en route to Switzerland. Whilst sipping café classico at a quaint trattoria, a chocolate Sussex spaniel befriended the lady Mulberry, the allure of almonds and cocoa proving too much to bear. Giancarlo, in his tweed jacket, linen pants, shirt, twill cap, and oak walking stick, would arrive to find his beloved Rocco nibbling on an almond biscotto. Through Rocco’s discerning nose, Claire gained another purveyor of taste in Mr. Franceschi.
They corresponded through letters. Giancarlo did not subscribe to the advances of the technological world, choosing instead to believe in the character of a thing. They discussed spices, flavor combinations, soil types, gradient variations in terrain, and a host of other variables. Though she studied under Lenôtre, Claire’s conversations with the warrior-poet inspired and proved more useful than decades spent in a French kitchen.
It was upon a stroll through the hills of Alba that Giancarlo slew his quail dinner, but it was Rocco’s nose that unearthed the half-kilo truffle, harboring at the foot of an oak tree. Together, they embarked into town toward the post dispatch to ship the mushroom correspondence, though it was Rocco who signed the parcel.
Now, as the white truffle cream sauce simmered on the stovetop, Claire’s thoughts wandered toward the travels of another.
“Where has he been?”
Maxwell introduced ice to his whiskey.
“I’m not certain.”
Claire extinguished the flame and removed the pan from the stove.
“I thought he was…”
She paused, mindful of her husband’s affectivity.
She tried to rephrase, but could not find the words.
“Where is he staying?”
Maxwell looked up from his glass, his eyes bearing the traits of its contents, inhaling his wife through his gaze.
Claire knew that look.
She did not know that Benjamin stood patiently in the midnight foyer, admiring their chocolate walls.
Implode. Part IX – DK
Because everything, should contribute to taste.
Farmer’s market on the Corso Umberto.
Venice, Italy. On a morning stroll through the labyrinth of corridors.
(I am particularly fond of the ivory haired gentleman in blue, who simply cannot decide…) – DK
The foyer told the tale of hunter-gatherers.
Of chaste monks.
Of Schwe Yin Aye.
Of limestone temples, dedicated to Buddha.
The teak was washed in blackberries and set on a grassy knoll to bask in the Mon kingdom sun. The onyx lumber was intricately carved into various shapes:
The obsidian wood and its sculpted revelry was embalmed in mint and trimmed with gold. As he braced himself on the chocolate doorway, he was reminded of Kyaiktyo Pagoda.
Of Burmese craftsmanship.
Of U Wisara.
And so he removed his shoes upon entering his home, as a small step toward nirvana.
Maxwell set the calf-skin moccasins to the side. They were made-to-measure, courtesy of Tom Ford. And whilst a good portion of the light was consumed by the midnight interior, the shoes appeared to blush, perhaps reminiscing of its youth in Naples.
The mahogany floor was soothing against his feet. As he stepped into the expanse of the loft, the light would reign once more.
Claire Madison Mulberry stood at the kitchen island, chopping Italian parsley and basil. The cutting board was once part of a sugar maple, felled by a bolt of lightening in a New England thunderstorm. Claire was of the opinion that everything contributed to taste.
And so she imported spices.
Became acquainted with grapes.
Consulted with farmers on the bovinian diet, so that the cheese would be appropriate.
Maxwell watched her from afar, leather tote idling in his grasp. The aroma of her creation simmering on the stove filled the SoHo air.
Claire looked up from her work, and smiled.
“It’s good to be home.”
He strolled toward the sofa. The Mulberry Eir.
Claire reached for the basil.
“How was your day?”
Maxwell placed the tote onto the floor and brought his person to rest on the ruby chesterfield. However, something was amiss. The inquiry challenged the materials he so painstakingly chose for the design.
And so he stood up.
And approached the kitchen island, where a bottle of Scotch laid in wait. He removed a short glass from the cupboard.
“I ran into an old friend.”
He began a return to the Eir.
Claire took a moment.
The basil was patient.
She knew that Maxwell was a novice at cultivating personal relationships. She knew that Neil was the closest resemblance of a friend. And though they shared jovial moments over an occasional Scotch, he was a business associate, at best.
His oldest friend was work. A friend older than that?
She took the basil in her grasp.
Maxwell nodded, pouring himself an eighth of Scotch.
“Anyone I know?”
He brought the glass to his lips… and briefly considered a line of tableware.
He consumed the chestnut beverage.
Claire stood frozen.
The aromatic concoction continued to simmer.
Implode. Part VIII – DK
One thousand years later… still taking her time.
A Venetian mask maker at Atelier Marega, meticulously plying her craft.
Venice, Italy. A brisk morning in spring.
(She was terribly gracious in allowing me to photograph her while she worked. Tomorrow’s amaretto will be raised, in her honor) – DK
Benjamin allowed his person to be intruded upon by the aromatic leather contours of the Mulberry Hnoss. The leather chaise longue and its multiple degrees of comfort provided ample support for his knackered, Herculean frame.
Maxwell stared at the gentleman’s hands.
Skin, assaulted by the sun.
The bruised blood vessels.
The epidermal layer, burned by the wind.
Where had they been?
“So, you married Claire.”
Maxwell returned to 88 Mercer Street.
“Last year. Small ceremony in Santorini.”
Benjamin, comfortably reclined, thought momentarily.
“Good. Good for you.”
Implode. Part VII – DK
In search of something, greater than ourselves…
The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, framed by the Loggia dei Lanzi along the Piazza della Signoria.
Florence, Italy. A warm evening, as the sky was falling – DK
He composed a design, in the same manner that he held Claire.
Attentive to every curve.
Each stroke, performed with care.
This is why the urgency of the heels, clattering in the corridor, did not resonate within his ear.
He looked up from his work.
Benjamin mustered what strength he had left,
Maxwell sat, without words.
“It’s okay, Ms. Olsson,” he stated calmly. “It’s okay. Thank you.”
Ms. Olsson observed the two men, uncertain of how to proceed. Slowly, yet confident in her mentor, she took hold of the door handle and closed the glass portal behind her.
Maxwell, still wearing a veil of astonishment, stood up. He approached the bearded man, whose face was flush red though chestnut whiskers.
The tattered trench coat and similarly unfamiliar garb.
Maxwell observed his friend and Benjamin stared back.
Though his lips quivered.
His jaw tightened.
His eyes burned, blurring with water.
As Maxwell stared, Benjamin took a step back.
He opened his coat.
Maxwell was slightly concerned.
Benjamin proceeded to unbutton his shirt. He was unrushed and deliberate, which was consistent with a man, Maxwell once knew.
Benjamin unfastened another button, halting at his abdomen. He placed a hand on each side of the shirt and bore his chest.
An elongated scar, ran from his upper left collar bone…
Across his heart,
Diagonally toward his right rib cage.
He stared at Maxwell, a trembled rage filling his eyes.
Maxwell observed the scar and its five years of correspondence.
He beheld his troubled friend.
Benjamin wanted to cry.
He wanted to expel an audible record of his sorrow.
He seemed to beseech his friend for his consent.
For his approval
And Maxwell stared back.
Implode. Part VI – DK