The Soupster experiences hot gossip and hotter food.
At a table at Our Town’s new Indian/Pakistani restaurant, Naan Plus, the Soupster sucked on an ice cube to cool his mouth from a fiery vindaloo. Sweat dripped off the tip of his nose and his eyes teared freely.
“So hot!” the Soupster croaked.
His tablemate, Sally Crewsin, had ordered the milder biryani and looked at him with sympathy. “At least this lunch is free,” she said.
Sally was paying the tab to reward the Soupster for helping her sell her house. She had placed a classified ad in the Soupster’s eponymous publication and had three offers in one week. Of course, blonde and bright-eyed Sally had a house as adorable as she was and the price she asked was more than reasonable.
“Hey, Soupster,” she said to change the subject from agony and hellfire to something less uncomfortable. “Why did you name the Soup the Soup?”
“I didn’t name it,” the Soupster gasped, inexplicably still eating his volcanic entrée, despite the pain. “Rolene did. She started the Soup and sold it to me.”
Rolene Bently occupied the body of a middle-aged woman, but had the soul of a frontier pioneer. She was a serial entrepreneur, starting several businesses and then selling them when a newer idea consumed her instead.
“She named the Sitka Soup after her grandmother’s soup, which was made out of whatever was on hand right then. In the early days when the Soup was wildly unpredictable, the name made even more sense.”
“Rolene was something else, you bet,” said Sally. “Did you know she was doing a kind of Airbnb before they invented Airbnb?”
The Soupster nodded and chuckled.
“Rolene had a list of people with spare rooms and would hook up lodging-seeking visitors to Our Town,” Sally said. “Then she moved on to cars and boats. At the height of her popularity, Rolene oversaw land and sea fleets worthy of a military operation. She kept it all straight.”
“Where is Rolene now?” asked the Soupster.
“Somewhere in Wyoming,” said Sally.
“No doubt organizing cowboys into some sort of Ranchbnb,” said the Soupster.
The waiter came with their third dish, a creamy sauce with visible pieces of chicken.
“It’s tikka masala – some people call it butter chicken and it’s very mild,” said Sally. “It’s is more popular in Britain now than fish `n chips.”
The Soupster moaned with relief as the creamy sauce coated his overheated mouth. He pushed the spicy vindaloo to the side. “I’ll eat no more of that,” he said.
“Another of Rolene’s obsessions was food waste,” said Sally. “I bet she would be able to find somebody who wanted your remaining vindaloo. I bet you’d be willing to trade the vindaloo for more tikka masala.”
“Or an ice cold glass of milk,” said the Soupster, whose mouth still smarted.
“Rolene would call it Leftoversbnb,” said Sally.