Someone?s in the Kitchen with Elvira
Christ, she smells good.
He shakes the pan over the flame and white sparks jut like petals from the cast iron center of a flower. Intent, he tosses fresh oregano and a dash of olive oil into the pan. This is a new recipe and it has to be perfect. He's been planning this dinner for months, years. Maybe this meal is the sole reason he became a chef. Some things are meant to be.
A bit of herb and breadcrumb crust sticks to the pan and he gently loosens it with a fork. Pan frying is the right choice. If he'd used the oven, he wouldn't get to devote his full attention to the meal. This way is much more intimate. He grabs the handle of the pan with his right hand and tries to flip the thin piece of meat like a pancake. Pain sears from the two puncture wounds in his palm and he drops the pan heavily on the stove. Even with the white gauze bandage wrapped three-and-a-half times around his palm, he forgets about the injury. Pain, like his focus, is deeply ingrained. After a moment, he pulls out a metal spatula from the drawer to his left and flips the meat.
Ahh, perfect, perfect.
The crust is just the right brown. The savory aroma arouses the dog, which enters the room and begins to pace. Normally he would share with the dog, but not tonight. He looks around the kitchen: mixed greens salad, risotto with chives, bottle of cabernet. Everything's ready.
Through the kitchen archway and across the living room he sees the empty aquarium tank with the heat rock and plastic log. He frowns and makes a light fist with his right hand. The hot olive oil pops in the pan; he lowers the flame. Turning, he grabs a large glass tumbler and the freezer door handle. As he fills the tumbler with ice cubes, he studies the long claw marks on the frost and waffle box. The inside of the door is badly scratched, too. The last time he opened the freezer door it was to take out Elvira. That was twelve hours after she bit him so hard he required a trip to the emergency room and seven stitches.
She was strong. No doubt about that.
He sticks a piece of ice under the gauze on his right hand as his belly rumbles. He transfers the meat from the pan to the dinner plate, sits, and raises his glass to the severed iguana head at the other end of the table.
"To Elvira: a wonderful pet, and an even better dinner."