The Kitchen God


by Fred Senese

"Hey, hey."

"About time, man."

"Traffic. What we got here? WOW."

"Yeah. Told you, it's a nice one."

"Alright. OK. She's face up, not too much blood, but look at that splat. Like a starfish around her head. Blunt trauma from behind, but a bit of an edge too or there wouldn't be anything to splat. I'm seeing it like this: she's sitting in this chair, knees buckled, slumped down like this, landed on her ass and rolled onto her back when she hit the floor. She had a minute, maybe, see how the hands are drawn up over her chest?"

"I'm thinking Psycho II. Frying pan to the head while she was talking."

"Sounds about right. We can roll her, right? Pictures? Swabs and prints all done?"

"Yeah. We were waiting forever for you. Here, I'll do the ankle turn, she's a big one, though, you lift the right shoulder if she doesn't roll. Got it? Good. Perfect."

"Okay…okie dokie. I say no way was it a frying pan."

"No?"

"Lookie here. The crush is round, on the bottom, deep, we got big bone frags here, and here. And a crush, here, off the circle. See how the hair's matted down in the center, not around the edge?"

"OK, what about that Buddha statue or whatever on the shelf over there? It's been moved a little. He clobbered her with that."

"Buddha didn't do this. He's brass, yeah, but he doesn't have the heft."

"OK. Round crush. Maybe an omelet pan?"

"Well, lots of force here. It had to have a longish handle, to put that much force behind it. Omelet pan's about nine, ten, twelve inches diameter, round sides, flat bottom, short handle. Look at the crush...an omelet pan, the flare isn't this wide."

"I've got an omelet pan with a flare like that."

"What the hell for?"

"For making omelets."

"You toss an omelet in a flared pan, it's gonna wind up stuck to the wall."

"I don't flip. I pull edge to center, stuff, and fold. Onions, mushroom, tomatoes, swiss. Gentle flare is good for flipping the lid on."

"Well, shit, man, you may as well be making a fritatta."

"No, I like them fluffier than that."

"Fritatta can be light as fucking air, you do it right."

"Naw. You're baking the egg under a broiler, there, no way."

"Jeez-us. That ain't how you do a fritatta. Anyway, this was a smallish wok, not a fucking omelet pan. See this, here? That's the second handle. And a wok's got a nice long handle on the other side. You can swing that son of a bitch like a baseball bat."

"A smallish wok?"

"I'll prove it to ya. We got a Yixing clay teapot and a bowl of mangoes on the table. A ginger grater on the counter. Bamboo steamer by the stove. Deceased was a serious Sinophile."

"Sinophile."

"Serious Sinophile. What clinches it is the statue there."

"The Buddha?"

"That's not Buddha, that's a kitchen god."

"What's the diff? He's fat as hell and he's got the same cat-and-canary smile—"

"Kitchen god's in the kitchen because that's where all the juicy fighting goes down. Buddha avoids that kind of thing."

"So the kitchen god's an instigator?"

"No, he's the cop on the corner. He watches for fights. On Lunar New Year he phones heaven and tells the Yellow Emperor whether the family's been naughty or nice. We might get some prints off him. Maybe the perp's, though, if he's superstitious."

"There's something on his lips."

"It's honey. You smear honey on his lips so he can only say sweet things to the Emperor, or there's hell to pay. There, that plastic squeeze bottle? Bag that."

"What's this got to do with—"

"Try to keep up. Kitchen god means deceased did hardcore Chinese cooking, plus deceased lived alone. She cooked for one, she'd have a smallish wok, just this size."

"So where's the wok?"

"Perp took it with him."

"Why?"

"It's hard to find a wok that size. You can do just about anything with it. You can off your grandma, you can make beautiful fluffy omelets, you can make a fucking fritatta."




BIO: Fred Senese writes and teaches at a small university in rural Appalachia. He has been a NASA research scientist, dishwasher, trail and conservation zone planner, short-order cook, software developer, Flash cartoonist, art student, waiter, and educational media designer.