__________ has been on the tour bus for a good six months. It was strange, she was only with the band for a short time, but already, she felt a part of their family. Andersen was like the father/ parental figure of the group. He was manager, PR, drummer if need be, and promoter. Gilbert was the second in command, bass guitarist and she was songwriter and unofficial Roderick handler. And Roderick give or take was the arrogant golden boy but cared a lot for his family. One the road, they were mainly in their tour bus, which she found out was driverless but once when got to a city; they usually stayed a week to a month. She never stayed in five star hotels before and had to admit, it was fun. Like all bands, they had rules to help every live better and together. When on the bus, they alternated in cooking. Andersen cooked Monday and Tuesday, she cooked Wednesday and Thursday, and Gilbert took Friday and Saturday, which worked well because usually they played that night and he just grab take out, and on Sunday it alternated. Roderick’s only job was cleaning up the kitchen and living room. She thought Roderick was just being a jerk when he said he couldn’t cook. So she just asked.
“That man can’t cook to save his life!” said Andersen, “I’d rather castrate myself,”
“I agree,” said Gilbert.
“It’s really that bad?”
“Ja! Once he was suppose to do the simple task of making instant brownies,”
“And blew the kitchen up,”
“Are you two joking?”
“I wish, and that was because he wanted to boil water and that happened,” said Andersen
“Not to mention he wanted to make us soup when we were sick,”
“His “soup” was him adding anything edible into a pot and boiling it for hours. We both got salmonella after that stunt,”
“Just don’t eat anything from him, kæreste. It’s for your health,” after being on the road for weeks, they decided to stop at a deserted looking place. The inn that was there was quiet and inviting. __________ was a bit surprised. Usually Roderick wanted somewhere with some form of nightlife. He was too happy to get off the bus and go to the door with Gilbert close behind. He went to the inn and banged on the door. A tall black woman opened the door. She had piercing dark eyes, graying hair, and looked as though she had just woken up. Roderick grinned at her.
“I was looking for the greatest Jazz singer in world but I see nothing but an old hag. Have you seen her?” she gave him a grizzly smile.
“I don’t have time to babysit a hack musician,”
“You heard me! Now if you’d excuse me, I have to talk to the one with the brain. Hi honey child!” she hugged Andersen tightly, then Gilbert. She then stopped at ________. She smiled at her sweetly, then hit Roderick, “Making me act ugly in front of this sweet young lady! What’s the matter with you!”
“Hi dear, I’m Bertha and this is my inn. Now, if these idiots kidnapped you, blink twice but since Andersen is here, I’m going to trust that he’s been making sure the other two morons hadn’t hurt you,”
“No, no I’m here willingly!”
“She’s our new member,” said Roderick smirking and pecking her cheek, “And my girlfriend,”
“Poor thing! How many gray hairs have you given her!”
“Take that back!” the pair started going back and forth with each other.
“Who’s she?” she whispered to Andersen.
“Bertha Jenkins, an old friend. She owns the café and inn. We stay here every time we come down here. She let us stay for free when we were starting out. She only let those she thinks have real talent stay. She used to be a Jazz singer and remembered how tough it was for musicians starting out so she gave us a break and let us stay until we played our infamous gig and knocked up into all this fame,”
“Wow…but why is she mean to Roderick?”
“Cultural differences. They are masters at their craft but Bertha hates Metal and Roderick isn’t a Blues fan,”
“But wouldn’t that bring them close together? Without Blues, there’s no metal,”
“Oh no, they agree to that, it’s the same it’s approached they don’t like. Bertha likes acoustics and you know Roderick. Not to mention, he blew up her kitchen trying to make instant mac and cheese,” ________ face palmed.
“He can’t be that hopeless,”
“You be surprised sweetheart,” she looked up. Bertha smiled sweetly at her, “So you’re the new band mate. Nice to see someone who looks like she has something in her head, like Andersen,”
“You flatter me,”
“Please, how you can survive these two is beyond me,” she gestured Roderick and Gilbert. Inside, Bertha made supper. __________ and Andersen insisted on helping her since it was so late. Roderick was forced to stay ten feet from the kitchen (Bertha had a shock collar and she meant to use it).
“I know it sounds brash honey but he caused thirty thousand dollars of damage the last time he was near it and I’m not taking any chances!”
“Sure was! He paid for it, not a problem but it was just the inconvenience of it all,”
“And Fraulein wants to him to cook,” said Gilbert being the supervisor. Bertha made him knead dough.
“Don’t waste your time, sweetheart. The boy’s as useless as a third boob,”
“Actually….there may be some uses to that,” they started at Gilbert, he smirked perversely.
“You’re not allowed to speak until supper is ready,” said Andersen.
Last night’s conversation only fueled____________ more to help Roderick learn to cook. Because Bertha’s kitchen was off limits, she showed Roderick some of the easiest things to make using the tour bus’s kitchen. She started off with burgers first. She showed him how to choose meat, choose seasonings, even what buns that would be good. He was good at prep. He didn’t mind getting his hands dirty; he even mashed the beef with his bare hands.
“So, why are you trying so hard to show me how to cook, Schätzchen?”
“Well, I want to teach you something, like you teaching me how to relax,” he grinned, “Besides, we hadn’t had alone time for a month,”
“True…though I can think of another way we can spend time,” he leaned in for a kiss, only to met with an onion. He jumped back.
“There’s nothing sexier than a man that can cook so if you do a good job, you’ll get a reward. Besides, I want to show everyone you’re not useless,”
“Roderick, if everyone was sick and you were stranded with no place to order food, how would you survive?”
“Easy! I would have carried rations!”
“You can use that all the time! What if you need food to stretch and needed to make stew?”
“I’d use my cell phone to call someone to lock in our coordinates to make food for me,”
“Honestly you’re weird,” they grilled the burgers and Roderick served them to Gilbert and Andersen. They immediately backed away from them.
“No way in fuckin’ hell am I eating these!” said Gilbert
“I agree, I want to live to see tomorrow!”
“Guys, guys, it’s okay, I helped,” said ____________. Andersen and Gilbert watched as she took a bite.
“Shit, Liebling has balls,”
“Large ones at that,” they both waited to see if something was going to happen. However, she was fine, just fine. They decided that it was safe enough and started eating.
“These are awesome! More awesome than me,”
“Wow, that great?”
“I have to admit, this is a great tasting burger but I’m not convinced,” said Andersen looking at Roderick, “That moron can’t boil water without something happening,”
“Fuck you,” said Roderick pulling ________ into a hug, “She helped a lot! I didn’t know you actually had to flip burgers!”
“Thank fuckin’ god she’s here,”
“And he’s going to cook every night until he gets it right,” Roderick’s eyes lit up.
“Really!” And so began ____________’s cooking lessons and self reliance training. Roderick learned to sauté, season, substitute, and even basic food prep like boiling water and cheese grating. After about two weeks, Roderick wanted to go solo. That night, she was making fried chicken and was soaking in the sink for later. She got all the ingredients out for him. He also wanted to make chicken flavored rice. She bought a few boxes for him to make. He wanted to make some hamburgers again.
“Okay Roderick, everything you need is in this kitchen. Here’s the recipe book for your burgers. Do you remember everything?”
“Ja, ja, I got it! Now get going! I can handle this on my own!”
“Really?” he pecks her lips.
“Really. Have fun at the Blues concert!”
“Okay but if you need ANYTHING just text me or call me! Good luck, Liebe,” he blushed. He loved when she spoke German to him. When she came back from the concert a few hours later, the smells of delicious food wafted through Bertha’s kitchen. She saw the kitchen rice almost done, the burgers grilling, and even a cake baking. She smiled with pride as she prepared her portion of the meal. That night, they were all ready to chow down before going to their hotel. Bertha was singing that night but grabbed some chicken before she went.
“More for us then,” said Roderick.
“It smells amazing,” said Andersen happily, “So ________ you helped cook this?” she nodded.
“As long as it has her awesome approval, I’m fine,”
They all ate their fill. Everything went well. They even had the dessert Roderick made all by himself with awesome results. They waited a few hours and still nothing was wrong…until morning.
__________ was the first in the bathroom, then Gilbert, then Andersen. They immediate stopped at a hotel for the night because they were in danger of plugging up their toilet with sick. A doctor was brought in and they were all diagnosed with severe food poisoning. Gilbert and Andersen were in the room, being tended by Bertha, who drove in from the next town to tend to them. She made them a big pot of soup and tended to all of their needs. A doctor was called in. The band had to take a month hiatus from their tour and according to the doctor; he’s never seen such a strong and severe case of food poisoning in her life. __________ was glaring at Roderick from her bed. He apologized over and over.
“H-How…I can’t understand how…you managed to poison us all? God I feel like something is tying and untying knots in my intestine,”
“I’m with her,” said Gilbert glaring at him from the table trying to keep down his chicken broth.
“I did everything she told me about how to make hamburgers!” he said hotly, “I just improvised,”
“What do you mean, improvise?” said Andersen sipping herbal tea to settle his stomach.
“I wanted to make the ultimate burger! Since meine fraulein taught me how, I wanted to make a burger using seafood, she loves crab,”
“Flattering but what did you do?”
“I bought crab and mixed it into the beef with tuna,” they looked at him. __________ could feel herself getting sick again.
“What the hell is wrong with you!” said Gilbert, “You can’t mix different things like that together!”
“There’s still hope,” said Andersen, “At least he used fresh fish,”
“There’s not a pond or pier for miles,” said ___________
“I found a fish market,” said Roderick proudly, “And I picked out the fish myself! It smelt good and fishy!”
“Fresh fish doesn’t smell,” Roderick looked sheepish.
“No wonder it was half off,”
“And what of the cake, what did you do to that?!” said Gilbert.
“Nothing! I followed the recipe to a tee! The only thing I couldn’t find was some chocolate but I found some in a box, I think it was gourmet,”
“…what was it called?” said Andersen.
“That was laxative dummkopf!” said Gilbert.
“What gets me is that he never gets sick,”
“The boy can’t cook,” Bertha walked in with herbs for her broth, “And to make things worse, he has a cast iron stomach making it damn near impossible for him to get affected by his cooking or anything rotten for that matter,”
“The chicken rice looked safe,” said Gilbert
“It was instant Roderick,” ____________ was looking at him, “How did you mess that up?”
“I did everything the box told me! I even gave the water extra flavor,” the room fell silent.
“What do you mean, extra flavor?”
“I used the water you were soaking that chicken in and lard instead of butter!” Andersen immediately ran into the bathroom and Gilbert ran to the one that was in his room. Bertha shook her head.
“I told ya baby, he’s useless,” That evening, Roderick brought __________ some plain yogurt with honey. She glared at him a bit and accepts it.
“I’m sorry Schätzchen,”
“What got me is that you didn’t try to ask me for help,”
“I didn’t want to bother you,”
“I said it was okay, sweetheart you know I wanted to help,” he reddened slightly.
“But…why did you want to teach me in the first place, Schätzchen?” she reddens slightly.
“Well, it’s a cute activity that couples sometimes share together, that I wanted to show everyone you were self reliant,”
“I am self reliant! I just can’t cook but I have a stomach of steel so if I eat anything, I can live and not get sick,”
“Touche. I wish I knew that,” he smiled and kissed her cheek.
“But at least you wanted to try to teach me something, I really can’t say how much I enjoyed cooking with you,”
“How about this, when I cook, you can prep for me? That way we can spend more time together doing something other than music,”
“It’s a date!”