Monday, October 19, 2009

Someone's in the Galley with Skulley, Pt. 3

The phosphorus grit caught with a hiss, wooden match flaring as she scraped it over her belt buckle. Salt air was slowly taking a toll on her remaining match supply. She wrinkled her brow, thinking she ought to pick up an actual lighter before they launched, and sucked the tip of the flame into her cigarette. Drawing in a lungful of exotic, spiced smoke, Skulley closed her eyes briefly before surveying her work.

Alien and almost frightening in appearance, the pressure-cooker dominated fully half of one counter and was screwed tightly in place, various odd gauges and knobs poking out of the screw-locked lid at strange angles. Small glass jars filled with salt, pepper, herbs and spices dotted the underside of the cupboard, and a bizarre metal trap fastened to the side of the cabinet had already proved itself to be an effective ashtray.

The cupboards contained a single heavy skillet, a saucepan and a normal fuckin' stirrin' spoon; a spatula and a stack of tin bowls and plates; a handful of spoons and forks. One large and one small knife, sharp as blazes and buckled to the inside of the cabinet just above the portable gas burner. Small burlap sacks full of dry rice, beans and tiny black-and-white peas; a crate of glass jars packed between an ample stock of clean, rolled bar towels, crammed in next to a tapped metal tank full of fresh water and a jug of bleach. The cabinets were stocked and secure, everything battened down for rough seas, leather sling and a heavy apron hooked to the wall for convenient access. Maybe a bit excessive for a voyage slated to last less than a week, but it was better safe than sorry.

All that remained was a net bag for vegetables and fruit, and she'd fill that at market shortly. They sailed tomorrow.

Skulley smoked.

Draped in coils of rope, Alejandra stomped down the tiny stairwell and stood next to the new mess cook, arms folded and face sour, to survey the galley. It was almost comical to see the disparity in size and demeanor between the two. One pissy, one serene; one tanned and one pale; one short and one long, they stood shoulder to shoulder (well, more like shoulder to elbow), staring at the spruced-up kitchen. The little black-headed swabby scowled. "What's for lunch?"

"Sandwiches." Skulley exhaled a stream of smoke and looked sidelong at her visitor. Alejandra took one last look at the kitchen, snorted, and headed off to the hold without another word. Dropping the stub of her cigarette in the steel trap, Skulley gathered up her shopping bag and went up on deck.

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