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.So far, so good.Soon he had all the dishes into the machine.He closed the door and wondered what he had to do now.He had a choice of buttons to press each with a little message printed on the surface, some glowing green and some unlit but it was far from clear that pressing any of them meant ‘start the dishwashing process now’.He pressed what he thought was the most logical, the machine gave a groan and a water swishing noise and a red light came on.The door wouldn’t open again so he gave up and went back to the television.Gabriel never enjoyed his own company, he could not concentrate on the television and he kept thinking about Brenda and praying that she would be different in the morning.But he had managed to put the dishes into the dishwasher.“Had a problem with the dishwasher last night then?” Brenda asked when Gabriel appeared next morning—still with a touch of frost in her voice Gabriel thought.“Yes” he replied “but I put in the next load as you asked.”“Okay, now have you thought more about getting a cleaner?” Brenda asked.“Look love, I know you have always done the housework and I love you and am very grateful for all that you do but I don’t think a cleaner is what we need.If you can just teach me the buttons on that machine I will do the dishes in future.How would that be?”“It’s a start I suppose,” said Brenda, then, “okay Gabriel but we still have to solve the problem of cleaning this huge house,” and she emphasised ‘huge’.Gabriel was thankful for small mercies and he didn’t think a reply to Brenda’s last statement was necessary.Besides he had a distinct feeling that if he did respond he would be the loser.So he remained silent.He still didn’t cotton-on to the real problem although he did recognise that the problem was not solved; but hey, he could feel the thaw—and that was great!It was the following Thursday, late morning.Gabriel had treated himself to a long lie in bed.He had been out at a mate’s house playing poker until late the night before.He had lost a few dollars, mainly because he always seemed to be answering questions about France or his ancestry that his opponents asked him every time he should really have been concentrating on the cards.Never mind, they were all good listeners, Gabriel’s mates, and what’s a few bucks between friends?It was 11.00 am before he wandered down for breakfast which Brenda always prepared for him no matter what time he got out of bed.But all that he found on the table was a note from Brenda.Out dress shopping with Beatrice and Mary.Back for dinner 6.00 pm or so.Here’s what you need from the shop, for you to cook your usual tomorrow —cul de veal—whatever! We have the other ingredients.Rump of vealCreamDry white wineHave we got Brandy?ChilliesGarlicCinnamonAnd better get some nibbles and stuff.LoveBrenda PS Enjoy the shopping!Now Gabriel was without breakfast but that was the least of his problems.Just as he had never used the dishwasher he had never gone shopping on his own.He only went with Brenda if there was absolutely no way of getting out of it.And he recognised the sarcasm in ‘enjoy the shopping’.He also knew, and he knew that Brenda knew, that he never really cooked the main dish.Sure he talked about cooking it but he was only joking really.Brenda had never asked him to do the shopping before and surely she didn’t really mean it when she had written ‘for you to cook.’ Something was definitely up, and anyhow where was the bloody shop?He put two slices of bread into the toaster.He would eat more up at the shopping centre.Gabriel drove to the centre, parked the car and decided the first thing to do was to have some breakfast.He bought a paper and ordered bacon and eggs at the café Brenda and he usually frequented.A waitress that he and Brenda knew well served Gabriel’s bacon and eggs.“Where do you suppose I would get this lot Mary?” Gabriel asked as he handed her the note.“At Woolies of course” answered Mary.“Is Brenda not well then?”Even Mary thought it very odd that Gabriel was shopping on his own.Now in all those years that he had been pretending to know about cooking this dish, he assumed that his wife had been getting the exotic ingredients required at some specialist shop or other.He never entertained the idea that they would come from a common Woolworths—a shop that everyone goes to for the day-to-day necessities of life—but at least he knew where Woolies was located.Just over an hour later Gabriel emerged from Woolies with all that was required—but this had been achieved only by a tremendous effort on his part and the diligence and patience of several of Woolworths’ assistants.How much rump did he want—a whole one, a half, what?Cream—was that single, double, thickened or cream custard?Wine and brandy—he knew about that—okay!Chillies—was that small red ones or larger green ones and how many kilograms or grams did he need, or should he get the powder in the little jar?Garlic—he got a kilogram just to be on the safe side.Cinnamon—sticks or a jar? He took a handful of sticks and two little jars.That should be enough!Nibbles —what the hell was this and where on earth in this huge shop would he find something that looked vaguely like the picture in his head of what Brenda usually provided for nibbles.Brenda had stick things, stuff in little dishes that you put little straw things into and little biscuits with coloured things on them.He had absolutely no idea what anything was called!Suffice to say that Woolworths had a huge loss from Gabriel’s shopping trip due to the wages they had to pay the staff to help him.After he had asked several of the assistants really stupid questions they got the message and sent a knowledgeable girl with him to go around and judge as near as possible what he required.He was the talk of Woolworths’ staff for the rest of the week, and the butt of many jokes—the fat man that was going to buy a kilogram of hot red chillies—but Gabriel knew nothing of this of course.By the time Brenda arrived home that night in time to cook something for dinner he was really worried.Brenda knew this just by the look of him and she had a great laugh when she checked on the shopping, enough cinnamon to do them for the rest of their lives but, bless him, he had managed to get everything.But this was not the time to sympathise; this was the time to strike the final blow!“You did well with the shopping dear”, said Brenda, “I hope you are just as successful with the cooking tomorrow morning.”“What do you mean the cooking tomorrow?”“You know, the veal in white wine sauce, that thing you always boast to your pals about.I just thought you should have the chance to do it all on your own and not have me interfering all the time.Anyway I have decided to start the spring-cleaning tomorrow, all the bedrooms first and then I’ll start on the cupboards but no worries I’ll stay out of your way in the kitchen.I’ll do the kitchen next week [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]