‘Ye’re so fuckin tense,’ he says. An in ma heid Ah’m like, whit the fuck, if ye want tae make somebdy less tense then the worst thing ye kin say is ‘Ye’re so fuckin tense’. Ah mean, whit guid is that gonnae dae?
Ah actually feel like sayin that tae him, bit Ah dinnae want tae end up back oan the rock ‘n’ roll, so fuck that fur a game o soadjurz. Jist huv tae grin an bear it Ah suppose – minus the grin obviously.
‘Seriously, man, jist relax,’ he says. ‘Ivryhin’s easier when ye relax, take it fae me.’
Ah take a deep breath an look at the flair. ‘Yes, chef,’ Ah say.
‘Look at me when ye’re talkin tae me,’ he says.
Ah lift ma heid. ‘Yes, chef,’ Ah say, louder, like Ah’m oan Hell’s Kitchen or in the airmy.
He pits a hand oan ma shooder. ‘Noo say it again, bit relax this time.’
Ah wipe sweat fae ma brow an take anither deep breath. ‘Yes, chef,’ Ah say again.
He grabs ma cheeks an massages thum wi his thumbs, roond and roond in circles. Ah want tae shove him awa an ask him whit the fuck he hinks he’s daein, bit fur the second time in quick succession, the prospect o queuin up at the joab ceentre stoaps me.
‘Whit wis it ye wur hinkin aboot there?’ he says. ‘A weekend break in Baghdad? I’ve seen mair relaxation in the shoaps oan Christmas Eve.’
Even though Ah hink his joke’s kinda shite, Ah lit oot a wee laugh. He lits go o ma coupon an smiles. ‘There ye go,’ he says. ‘That’s better, is it no? Noo take thae shooders awa fae yer lugs.’
Ah dae as he says.
‘Noo lit yer jaw drop like yer Hollywood crush hus jist walked in.’
Ah dae as he says. Ah dinnae tell him who ma Hollywood crush is though, an Ah’m pleased he disnae ask.
‘Noo move it side tae side,’ he says. ‘Close yer eyes if ye want.’
Ah kin hear the hustle an bustle o the restaurant in the backgroond. ‘Whit aboot the customers?’ Ah say.
‘Fuck the customers the noo,’ he says, softly, as if he’s tryin tae hypnotise me. ‘Ye wur gonnae chop maist o yer fingers oaff an ye’re nae fuckin guid tae me wi nae fingers. Noo move yer jaw side tae side.’
Ah dae it.
‘An hink aboot bein somewhaur nice,’ he says, ‘like oan a beach or that; somewhaur ye’d go tae chill oot.’
Ah hink aboot the fields oan ma maw an da’s farm oan a braw sunny day, jist me an the dug.
‘Ye goat it?’ he says.
‘Noo slow yer jaw doon gradually until it comes tae a complete stoap. Then when ye’re ready, open yer eyes and gie me the line again.’
Ah take a few moments. The hustle an bustle is noo like a comfortin white noise, radio static sorta style. Ah open ma eyes. ‘Yes, chef,’ Ah say. A string o saliva faws oot ma gub oantae the flair.
He laughs. Ah’m a wee bit embarrassed, bit Ah laugh along.
‘Ah need ye tae be focussed in there,’ he says, thumbin ower his shooder tae the kitchen. ‘Bit mair importantly, Ah need ye tae be relaxed. Wi relaxation comes control, an that’s whit Ah need ye tae huv in there. Control.’
‘Yes, chef,’ Ah say.
‘That’s better,’ he says. He then lifts up his left hand. ‘Ye’ve been here three weeks an ye huvnae notice this yit, huv ye?’
Thur’s nae tip oan his middle finger. Nae nail either, jist a fleshy stub.
‘Naw,’ Ah say.
‘Dinnae lit it happen tae you, awrite? Ivur since Ah sterted relaxin, no only huv Ah become a better chef, Ah also ken thit the rest o ma digits urr noo safer than they ivur huv been.’
‘Yes, chef,’ Ah say.
He pats me oan the back. ‘Noo lit’s get back in there,’ he says, turnin tae leave. ‘Mind an no drool oan the fuckin scran though, awrite?’
A.G. Kayman is fae a wee place in the East o Scotland, bit he likes tae shift himsel aboot fairly regularly. He writes exclusively in Scots, wi a central-tae-east-coast-lilt, bit is also fluent in Weegie an Dundonian. He hinks the world is cuckoo an thit the only wey tae deal wi it is tae pit finger tae keyboard, whether thur urr billions o readers or nane. He also likes American fitba an chutney.