Diana Clarke are ringing in their mourning for the deafening piano and the photographer is already fatigued from the conversation. “Blink once if yes, twice if no,” says Emma. She is laughing. Her laugh is too deep for her small body and the photographer wonders where it is coming from—whether she borrowed it from a larger person. “It is not edible,” he tells her, taking the bowl and tossing its contents into the trash. The gelatin at the bottom helps the pile slip out of the container easily, and there is a thud when its contents hit the plastic floor of the bin. The photographer returns to his preparation station, a small kitchen, takes a tiny pan about the size of his palm from a cupboard, and sets it on the stovetop. He opens his fridge and retrieves a pat of butter and slips it into the pan. He ignites the element and waits until the butter bubbles in anticipation, and then he pours a mixture of pancake batter he mixed earlier into the small pan. The batter fills the space, forms its perfect circle, and cooks quickly. He flips the batter with a fish slice and smiles at the tanned surface. When it is done, the photographer sets the pancake, golden and hot, on a polished plate and then places a circle of cardboard on top of it. He makes six more pancakes this way and stacks them atop the first, always with a slice of cardboard between. This helps the pile look full. The photographer smiles at his work. “Great trick!” says Emma. The photographer jumps, having forgotten that she is watching him, and she says, “Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.” The photographer shakes his aerosol can of Scotchgard and revels in the ball bearing’s rattle. He wishes Emma would leave his studio. He sprays the stack of pancakes with a thin layer of the translucent fabric protector and then takes a container of motor oil and drizzles the liquid over the pile. “That smells awful!” says Emma. The photographer has noticed that the woman-girl speaks only in question marks and exclamation points, and he wonders how she can be so certain of the intent of her words that she can punctuate them so definitely. He takes another pat of butter, a perfect yellow square, and sets it on the top pancake. Then he peers through the lens of his camera, smiles, and Emma says, “Looks good!” as he clicks the shutter and he jumps at the exclamation and the image is undefined. The edges are blurry, hazy, colors run into one another like watercolor paint. The photographer frowns. He does not like to take the photos more than once. He turns to scowl at Emma before looking through the lens again. He clicks the shutter. The image is sharp and perfect. “Why did you use Scotchguard?” she taps him on the shoulder as she asks and the photographer is sure to be subtle as he wipes her touch from his polo shirt. “It keeps the syrup from sinking in.”
Crab Orchard Review
A special issue on one of our favorite topics: FOOD!