It was a dark night in Slobbering-under-the-Bed's unique high street. This was partly because it was the middle of winter, but mostly because the street lights were still broken from my last visit. In any other town they'd have pulled their fingers out and got some replacement bulbs. Not Slobbering's Council, oh no. Not them.
Slobbering-under-the-Bed has a particularly active and adventurous town twinning policy. The town is twinned with the Bermuda Triangle and Atlantis. The whole town council has been missing on twinning duties for nearly nine months. I am eager to see the Atlantean delegation on the return visit. The Bermuda Triangle delegation had arrived on a large sailing vessel, but when townsfolk went on board, there was no-one there, although the table had been set for dinner.
I was planning to meet up with Roth. I could see him looming down the street. I continued to lurk near a streetlight. It's a division of labour thing. Demarcation - he does the looming and I do the lurking. He did try to teach me how to loom, but I just don't have the talent for it.
Roth arrived. I opened my mouth to greet him, but was interruped by a small dapper waiter, dressed in a fine flame-retardant evening suit. He seemed to have appeared out of nowhere.
"Would sirs like to order?" he explained further, "It'll save time. I can run ahead and the chef can be cooking before you even get there..."
"Why the rush?" I asked. I didn't ask how he knew we were going there, or where he'd appeared from. That was old ground and it was most unlikely I would get a better explanation than I had before.
"Sir wouldn't want to be late, would sir?"
"Late for what?" we said in unison.
"You'll see. No time to loose. I'd recommend the Extra Special." He hands us a menu each.
I glance at the menu and spot the Extra Special, "Oh. That looks nice. Minimum 2 people, needs to be ordered 48 hours in advance... Hang on, we can't have that, can we?"
"I said I'd run on ahead, sir"
Roth looked at me with the quizzical, one eyebrow raised look he learned off of Roger Moore. He'd nearly perfected it. When we looked back for the waiter, he'd gone. There was pudding to order, dammit.
We set off down the street for the Euthanasia Curry House. We arrived and the waiter took our coats. Mine growled at him, leapt out of his hand onto a nearby hook and continued a low level snarling. The waiter was left holding Roth's coat. He obviously fumbled a button by mistake, because it transformed into a Christmas Pudding and caught fire.
"Q said that'd be useful." muttered Roth, "I still can't see how."
"Does it contain nuts?" I suggested helpfully, "Useful against megalomaniacs with peanut allergies. Or maybe you could just throw it at them?"
"You're just in time," the waiter said with slight disapproval in his voice. Although he didn't say it, he clearly thought we could have made more effort, time wise. Or maybe he just didn't like our coats. "Would sirs like your usual booth, we've just finished re-building it after your last visit."
We sat down. The waiter lit the spring loaded candle. It shot flaming into the ceiling as soon as he turned his back.
With barely a delay the Extra Special arrived. It looked and smelled magnificent. Bits of it were bubbling. The occasional chilli broke the surface. I felt a strong relationship to this dish, like I imagine Captain Ahab might have had to the Whale.
Being on a single dish of the finest weapons grade stainless steel, Roth and I split the dish neatly in two and created a small no-man's-land between the halves. A period of silence with only the flash of fork, knife and spoon began. Errol Flynn would have been proud.
A waiter greeted a guest at the door. "How's the filming of Captain Blood going?"
"Very well. Loads of sword fights. Love it." The guest looked over at our silent but animated eating. "Damn, I'd be proud of that!"
We finished the main course, and after a short but polite pause a waiter cleared the debris that was left of the Extra Special. "We have but one pudding on this evening," he said once he had finished, "But it is a one off, worth all the hurrying. Crème brûlée. I'd strongly recommend to sirs. The chef hates being turned down, it ruffles his fur terribly."
Presently two huge furry paws placed two giant, but crisp and golden Crème brûlées between us. Roth looked up and smiled broadly. On seeing the teeth I fumbled in my pocket for a crucifix.
"Bear!" yelled, greeted and enthused Roth.
I turned. Roth's friend Bear was the guest chef. "Singed my paw fur playing the blowtorch on those I did, so enjoy", I distinctly heard him say, although his mouth didn't seem to move.