Breakfast with Fry
by Paul Evans
… so after AJ specifically instructed me to book the Eastern Standard Kitchen’s private dining area for brunch – which I dutifully did – I’ve just been publicly humiliated for doing so by the same man! I am so angry. But AJ is a direct, red-meat, patriotic success. I am his apologetically English subordinate. Impotent arousal fuels my shame. With pressurised facial capillaries, I negotiate an alternative (but undoubtedly more public) table while our guest recharges himself outside with another cigarette.
Boston’s ‘Kitchen’ is my favourite place for brunch, although I rarely get the opportunity. Its voluminous space (standfast the private area which prompted the recent claustrophobia jest from our celebrity), long bar and bulbous ‘Spielberg UFO’ lighting are paradoxically homely; while the reassuringly pricey and slick menu is reflected by the clientèle.
Relegated to an awkward corner chair, I sit as the rest of the production team stand for the return of ‘the money’. Wearing a tweed jacket with a check shirt and jeans, Stephen Fry smiles warmly through a greying beard as he approaches the table. With some satisfaction I notice he is pocketing a Blackberry: clearly the smart phone of choice for the Princess of Twitter (sat beneath Gaga and Gervais in that hierarchy).
Sat too far down the table, I miss out on handshakes, but smile with unsuppressed delight as I catch his scalp-tingling diction. I take solace from the fact that – as assistant producer – I’ll get the opportunity when the project gains momentum. I calm myself with a latte, order an Eggs Benedict entrée and immerse in localised conversation.
Fry is looking tired. His Broadway appearance as Malvolio in Twelfth Night must be taking its toll. I can’t wait to meet him. My comedy upbringing was fostered by healthy dollops of ‘Saturday Night Live’, ‘Fry & Laurie’, ‘Black Adder’, and ‘Jeeves & Wooster’; all of which contributed to successful candidacy for employment with Comedy Central. I am deeply ashamed that UK internet users attempting to view online CC video are greeted by an unavailability message, stating that it is ‘one of the detriments of living under a monarchy’ and that if they (we) can’t ‘give up their silly accents and move to America’ they should use the .co.uk address. AJ will undoubtedly spare that rhetoric on our national treasure though. Prick. Still, I love it here. I simply pay the price of soul erosion.
The anniversary of the 2013 bombing will coincide with Fry’s documentary and there is interest in dovetailed coverage. The irony that – before terrorism became unfashionable – Boston hosted IRA-fundraisers for bombs that exploded in the UK can’t be lost on my erudite hero. I wonder if this was one of the bars that sold the infamous ‘Car Bomb’ or ‘Kill a Brit’ cocktails. Still, forgive and forget eh?
Plate emptied, I take to people-watching as Fry excuses himself for another ciggie. Confusingly he has produced an iPhone from another pocket! How many phones does one man need? We dine with the usual suspects: various working brunches, stagnating couples, catalogue families, hangover guy, book girl and … what is going on with her??
There is clearly a zombie in the room.
One of the waitresses is conspicuously motionless next to the washroom door. She looks ill and vacant. She would not look out of place in a MacDonald’s at home, but here in the ‘Kitchen’ she looks distinctly out of place. I’m sure she refilled my coffee with a tip-inducing smile earlier.
Having been raised on the broadest range of popular culture, my head is also compacted with less positive influences than relationship-building comedy. I occasionally (and secretly) challenge myself on my response to an undead infestation. Arming myself with a heavy, swingable object features high in my survival protocol. With this at the forefront of my mind I am the only person to react when the waitress suddenly bites the cheek of a passing customer.
I reach the struggling couple as the screaming begins. Having instinctively snatched a copper ice bucket from the bar, decanting wine bottles in my wake, my first strike to the waitress’s head is accompanied by a comedy clang. The sudden withdrawal of teeth from the woman’s face reveals a flapping hole of torn flesh (increased screaming from the paralysed masses). My second strike is the first sickening bone cruncher; the third, fourth, fifth and sixth find my wet, pulpy target.
Exhausted and bloody, I turn to the waitress’s victim: a teeth and tits cougar in a provocatively tight sweater.
“I’I’m so sorry” I apologise – a bit of Tenant’s ‘Doctor’ unconsciously slipping out – before repeating the process on her; halting infection proliferation.
* * * *
I must credit the Boston Police Department for their speed of response. The girls are still twitching as I am surrounded at gunpoint and robustly transported to a cell. My protests abate as I empathise: rather than potentially saving two continents from unspeakable horror, I am a foreigner who has just clubbed two women to death.
Can I justify my apparent lack of proportional response? Surely a blood test will vindicate my actions. But … if the waitress was ‘Patient Zero’, how was she infected?
* * * *
Unless my shock-addled senses deceive me, I can hear the muffled, distant reports of approaching gunfire. As the world feeds I resign to starvation (assuming my cell tap remains operational). I imagine Stephen Fry as a zombie and start laughing uncontrollably.