by Audrey Kiely
One of the halogens had blown, and there was no replacing it at this point in the evening. David Chang, dejected, looked at the geoduck before him on the table. Anthony Bourdain came over and placed a hand gently on David Chang’s back.
“Well, the good news is we’ll be able to just pick it back up tomorrow.”
“This won’t be any good tomorrow,” said David Chang, staring down at the geoduck, hot tears filling his eyes. “You guys can go home,” he shouted at his crew, turning away, ashamed that once again he seemed unable to control his emotions. “We’ll pick it up tomorrow, we’ll just have to figure something else out.” He paced around for a moment. Suddenly, unable to restrain himself, he picked up a ramekin of crème fraîche and hurled it at the wall. Anthony Bourdain stood calmly, his head cocked to one side, looking at his cohort.
“You're better than this,” he said gently, warmly. “You’ll figure something out. You always do. I know you’ll be great.”
“I need your help,” said David Chang shakily, tears falling from his eyes.
Anthony Bourdain collected some of the soured cream and dabbed it on David Chang’s nose. David Chang smiled despite himself, and wiped his eyes. The two of them looked down at the geoduck,
“Well,” suggested Anthony Bourdain, “we could always –”
“Freeze dry it,” they said in unison. They locked eyes, smiling their secret smile.
“I found them!” David Chang shouted behind. He had run ahead, much like a small child on Christmas morning, bursting with excitement and joy and love. Anthony Bourdain strolled leisurely behind, a satisfied smile on his face, his linen pants rolled to just below his knee. He could feel the wet sand between his toes wash away as each swell of the ocean lapped at his feet, rinsing them clean with every surge, only to be beautifully muddied once more. He could see his friend silhouetted in the moonlight, digging greedily, grasping the treasure for which they had journeyed so far.
Anthony Bourdain threw back a swig of 2010 Itsas Mendi No. 7 Txakolina from the bottle as he approached his companion, who greeted him with a warm smile and two perfect oysters he had dug from the brine. David Chang handed his bounty off to his comrade, who to him looked as an Adonis dressed in white, glowing in the moonlight and clothes billowing in the wind as he cracked open the Mollusca offerings, careful to not spill the rich juices held within. He handed one back to David Chang.
“To you,” said Antony Bourdain softly.
“To us,” replied David Chang. Shooting their oysters and sipping their wine, they both felt like the world was theirs, drunk on the freedom and possibility, intoxicated by the glimmer of the stars reflecting on the ocean.
The audio-recording room was bland and dark. Anthony Bourdain sat on a three-legged stool, sifting through his script. Nothing looked right. Nothing sounded right. Voiceover work continued to be the most frustrating aspect of his professional life. He was crestfallen and exhausted. “That one was no good,” he said into the mic. “Let’s do another take please.” He sighed and listened for the three beeps through his headphones before he started talking. “The next stop on our tour of Saigon-” he started, but then slumped in his chair and let out an exasperated groan. “This is the worst!” he yelled to the ceiling.
“You’re the worst,” the ceiling responded.
Anthony Bourdain looked toward the control room, and saw that his friend David Chang sitting there, grinning.
“This is seriously the worst,” said Anthony Bourdain.
“Stop being a baby. You’re acting like that guy in Indonesia with all of the fish.”
Anthony Bourdain laughed, took a breath, and started again.
David Chang and Anthony Bourdain would be shooting a segment in Portland, Maine in the
morning, but they had traveled up a day early to get a quiet evening together. They were bunking in a little cabin and had been nibbling on water crackers and Jasper Hill Farms Winnimere.
“Your turn,” said David Chang.
“Truth or Dare?”
“Truth,” replied David Chang immediately.
Anthony Bourdain took a long pause. He had a steady gaze locked on his friend. “You always pick truth.”
“You always ask easy questions.”
Anthony Bourdain raised his eyebrows. Cocking his head to one side, he smiled. “Fine.” He wanted a moment longer, David Chang locking his watchful eyes. “Have you ever been in love?” David Chang’s face didn’t move. Calmly, he replied, “Yes.” It was vulnerable, but not timid, and he smiled at his cohort, slightly coquettishly. The two friends sat in silence, looking at each other, the wind rattling against the cabin windows. Eventually, after quite a bit of time, David Chang stood up. “I’m going to go to bed now. We’ve got a big day tomorrow.” He walked by Anthony Bourdain on his way to the bedroom. As David Chang passed, Anthony Bourdain grabbed his hand.
“Goodnight, you prince of Maine,” whispered Anthony Bourdain, “you King of New England.”
Audrey Kiely is an improviser, writer and butcher who bounces between Chicago and the East Coast.