Orange Pork with Roasted Root Mash Recipe
A little fiction to enjoy by the fireplace:
I hopped down the sidewalk, carefully stepping in spots where the snow had been dusted to the side and the sandy concrete promised firm footing. Having no certain direction, I felt the lure of the shop the instant I glimpsed it through my side eye. A bell sounded as I briskly swung open the smudged glass door. I removed my cap and inhaled the crisp smell of new things. My hair was lifted by static, and I fussed with it for a moment before giving up and repositioning my cap for appearance’s sake.
A man emerged from a doorway behind the counter. He had a small, slim frame, round, wire glasses, and beneath his nose stuck out a moustache like a broom. He stared at me for a moment with watchful, hazel eyes, then he spoke in an unassuming voice, as though he wasn’t particularly interested in whether I bought something or not.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
“Yes” I answered. “I am looking for something new. Something that’s a little more exciting than this” I said, gesturing my hands along the length of my body. “you see, I have been selling myself in little bits and pieces, here and there, trying to save up enough for an ego that’s really grand.”
The man considered me for a moment. When finally he spoke, his voice boomed like a stadium announcer. He whizzed around the store running at impossible speeds, but his feet never seemed to leave the ground. His words were fast and choppy. It was not the calm, librarian tone that he had greeted me with initially, but more like a cross between a car salesman and an auctioneer.
“YOU’RE IN LUCK TODAY” he said, flashing a white, toothy smile. “We have a whole new stock of vanity in. Yessir, nothing but cream of the crop perfection here! Of course the price is quite high, but perfection doesn’t come cheap.”
I scanned the display tables of dazzling egos.
“Go ahead,” he said “try one on. You look like you’ve been working out, I’ll bet it will fit like a glove.”
“How much is this one?” I asked. Pulling a dazzling green box off of the shelf. It felt soft and sleek in my hands, and it shook itself out in radiance feathering before me like a great peacock.
“Ooooh, that one will cost you!” He leaned in and whispered, though, by all appearances, no one else was in the store.
“10 hours of obsession a day, but you will be the envy of all your friends, guar-en-teed!” he said, smiling and backing away.
My face fell. 10 hours was a little steep, and I wasn’t so sure about the envy. I mean, it sounded a little extravagant.
“I don’t know” I said putting the box down, and reluctantly pulling my fingers away. The box let out a whimper. “what I really want is to inspire respect, not envy. I want to shine like a coat of armor, and dazzle with a cunning intelligence.”
“AH” he boomed “I’ve just the thing!” He rushed around behind me, and placed large calloused hands onto my back. It was an odd thing for a store owner to have such calloused hands, but I had no time to ponder, he ushered me over to a different display.
“PRIDE” he said, speaking loudly into my ear. “JUST LOOK AT THEM, AREN’T THEY GRAND!” He said, beaming. “Pride means never having to say those two little ugly words ‘I’m wrong’.”
“How much?” I said, rubbing my hands together and eyeing the magnificent boxes. They lay on top of one another, looking casually regal.
“Well now, as in battle, for every win there has to be a loss. This one will cost you the loss of good company, but don’t worry, just put this on and you will find yourself surrounded by an army of great achievements!” I swallowed hard. I suddenly felt hot inside my coat and unwrapped the scarf which was gripping tightly around my neck. I scanned the room.
There was pride, vanity, and.. victimization? ‘who would by that?‘ I wondered; and as though reading my thoughts the man leaned over and said “Nothing quells the tempest like a little shower of self pity eh?”
Sexiness purred from behind the counter, the boxes were locked behind a wall of glass. “Can’t stop the teenagers from stealing those ones.” He explained.
“Sir, don’t you have anything in this store for a moderate price?” I asked, removing my hat and wiping the sweat from my brow.
“That depends on what you would consider moderate. I do have one thing available for the price of nothing more than your care and attention.”
“Which one is that?” I asked, eagerly.
“It’s this box here.” He said. He picked up a box, and I noticed at once that it was empty.
“Put this on and you will find that you are complete. From time to time, you will be tempted to put on something else, and when you do, you will feel that you have lost what is in this box. Now pay attention, this is where your constant care is required. If you should find yourself tempted to don vanity or pride, run to the closest mirror, and laugh your way into forgiveness. Only then will you be naked again, and washed through with a sense of peace.”
“Surely you are not suggesting that I walk around naked for all to see!” I exclaimed.
“Perhaps you are not ready for this gift, or perhaps you cannot value a gift without a price. Very well. I will not give it to you for anything less than complete surrender.”
I turned on my heel and left in a huff. The door dinged and then slammed behind me. The air outside chilled my wet brow, and I put on my hat and pulled my coat tight, looping my scarf around my neck. Then I put my head down and walked down the street to the bus stop. A man cut in front of me.
“Excuse me!” He exclaimed. I looked up and saw that he was naked and grinning from ear to ear.
“I am so sorry, I was enjoying the sound of the snow crunching beneath my feet and I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
“Sir, you are not wearing anything? Aren’t you embarrassed?”
“Actually, I have never felt more loved” he replied. “Have a good day!” He said. He tilted his head before walking away. It was as though he had been planted there. I stood for a moment, watching him go. Then I made the decision to return to the store. I spun around and the man with the glasses and moustache appeared before me, outside, the box in his hand.
“Thank you, you have just completed your purchase” He said, handing me the box. “Enjoy!” He exclaimed, before the thin air took him away.