Pork Belly
John A. Ward

It was autumn, when the days meander from hot to cold and thunderstorms strike willy nilly.  Chesty and Cooder were sitting on the patio of the coffee shop, sipping frescantes.  Cooder leaned in, took a sip through the straw, wiped a dollop of whipped cream from his nose, and unfolded a 4X4 square of newsprint from his shirt pocket.
“Nestle your belly into a roasting pan.”
Chesty looked up from her crossword puzzle and said, “Excuse me?”
“I’m reading a recipe for pork belly,” said Cooder.
Chesty put her pen on the table and reached across.  She always did crosswords in ink. She was confident.  “Let me see that.”
Cooder handed it to her quickly.
“It doesn’t actually say my belly, does it?”
“No, I was just thinking that I would have to own it if I were going to cook it.”
“You don’t own my belly,” said Chesty.
“No, but you would own the belly if you were going to cook it.”
“I’m not going to cook a pork belly for you.”
“I didn’t think you were.  I was just saying.”
She read, “so that it holds it snugly,” and snorted.  Her snort was her second best feature.  She paraphrased, “now you’re supposed to rub salt and sugar all over your meat.”
Cooder scooted his chair around the table, so he was sitting next to her.  “Then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 6 hours, but no longer than 24.”
“That’s 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  You had better wear something warm.”
“I don’t have to be in the refrigerator with it,” said Cooder.  “Do I?”
“With your belly?” asked Chesty.  “I think you do.”
“It’s not my belly.  It’s a pork belly.”
“Oh, please!  This is an extended metaphor.  You don’t think it’s about food, do you?”
“I did, but tell me what we’re going to do with it in the end, after the metaphor is fully extended.”
Chesty grinned the way cats do when they’re playing with their food.  “Cut a six-inch long piece into half-inch thick slices.”
“Ewwww! said Cooder.  “I don’t like this game.”
“Then you shouldn’t read this kind of trash,” said Chesty.  She wadded up the clipping and threw it at him.
Cooder unwadded it and read, “Warm them until they are jiggly soft and heated through.  That’s a better ending.”
“Forget it,” said Chesty.  She retrieved the crossword.  “I’m busy.”

First published: May, 2014
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