This week we return to a familiar place. The first sequel story here on Friday Fireplace Tales compliments The Third Fire: A Tale of Expectations. As we have all been going through some changes here at Minds, I thought that maybe Pierre and company might have some thoughts on that subject. Boy, did they ever.
There was one day a year that Pierre had off.
It was always the day after their big anniversary, when the kitchen would be cleaned, it’s grease and grime blasted, scrubbed, and washed away.
From the refrigerators replaced, ovens restored or redone, kitchenware inspected and replaced as needed.
It was always a chaotic scene, one that Pierre had to take one look at before heading to the REAL party of the year; The annual Potan Del La De Magnus’s employee party.
Not even seasoned diners had heard of this party. They all knew the restaurant would be cleaned, but, being mostly rich asshole, they figured the Potan’s staff did it themselves.
Pierre had always said that a well-ran restaurant needs to be wined and dined itself. Some employees would squeak it out the remaining months just to attend this party before quitting. In fact, the past few parties had become a send-off of sorts. A last send-off with people that everyone had worked with and for, from royalty to elite.
Quite a few found themselves offered employment under these various dignitaries of the upper echelon. Almost anyone offered would accept, unless, of course, Pierre said no. He knew some of his customers more than they would of like when he would have to an employee that their very humanity would be at stake. When Pierre told you not to do something, you listened.
And when, with Pierre’s blessing, they would accept another offer of employment, they had to make it right after a certain date. The party of the Potan couldn't be missed, and was always given a different excuse of what it really wasn’t.
Pierre spared no expense. He charged every plate an extra amount all year, just to be put into the party fund. It was a generous slice of the check. No one ever complained about the bill at the Potan Del La De Magnus, not lest you want every socialite in central Europe talking about the cheap-ass at dinner last night.
But all those added charges amounted to the grandest party that would make the most uppidity-upper class scowl with major annoyance and slight envy at not being invited.
Pierre always made it a point to invite the Oscar-winning director of the year, a singer from the eighties, (Hasselhoff was in the past two years, this year was Pat Benatar), and always invited his good friend, Chef Gordon Ramsey.
The entire spectacal made every single employee feel like a celebrity themselves, at least for one night a year.
That was the point for Pierre, after all. Though he was not the owner of the Potan, he ran every single point of operation and finance, always turning a profit for the investors of the Potan, saving it from near insolvency decades ago. This made it possible for him to treat his employees far greater than an owner would. Pierre was one of them, and he never forgot that.
As the champagne popped, hired wait staff waited on the Potan staff and poured each one a glass to the brim with sparkling bubbles that only made an evening such as this even more magical.
The orchestra in the corner hushed down its light music and everyone turned to Pierre as he eloquently and rhythmically tapped on his champagne glass to give his first and last speech of the evening.
“Hello and welcome, everyone who has spent this past year slaving over hot stoves, waiting on pompous assholes, and washed and ran to my every whim! This, tonight, is for you!”
Everyone gave a hearty cheer in agreeance. Pierre allowed the jovialness to settle before continuing.
“When I first took over the Potan, it was an honor and privilege to serve along such people as yourselves, day in day out, all to achieve the highest rated and most exclusive restaurant in all of Florence! I swore that I would treat you all as you should be treated, like the people you create and serve for. All they do is consume, while you make, you clean, and you do it again and again!
“Thanks is made when we throw this yearly party that would make our guests jealous, if they were ever invited…”
A loud “NOT” came out of the crowd, probably from Chef Le Mon due the hard emphasis of the “ought” syllable. Quite a few of the staff chuckled at that, Pierre included.
Pierre continued, “Let us reflect and move forward, another year come, another year of continued success, imaginative dishes, and happy guests! You are all the reason the Potan is the Potan Del La De Magnus!
Another polite round of applause gave Pierre the air to finish up.
“Enjoy, my friends. Enjoy the festivities and your day off to recover tomorrow. Tonight is us! Tonight is the Potan!”
Pierre lifted his glass in near unison with all the other staff and everyone gave out a hearty “cheers!” before downing the entire glass of champagne and smashing every single empty glass on on the ground.
It was on from there. Musicians, food, liquor, and all sort of debauchery and idolatry awaited them. From grand masseuses to gambling to spectating incredible feats, there was something for everyone who worked at the Potan.
Pierre caroused through for a bit, taking his usual role of observing and making sure everything went smoothly.
He was startled by a hard slap on the back and a cold drink thrust into his hands. Pierre looked at the beverage, a Cools' Light, and then into the face of Le Mon.
Pierre gave a smile, took the beverage, and gave a fist thrust into Le Mon’s gut, causing him to wheeze out with surprise and force.
Pierre gave him a second to recover before they both laughed and then shotgunned their beers, like a couple of frat boys.
“This is your 13th party, is it not, my friend?”, Pierre asked Le Mon who was stoically staring at some exotic belly dancers from a Nepallnese sect that Pierre had to schedule 3 years ahead just for this one party.
“Wha… erherm, yes, I mean yes, this is my 13th party! Though it would have been my 14th if it wasn’t for that crazy redhead I dated that one year. Wouldn’t let me go to no parties, even with you, Pierre!”
They both laughed a bit at that. Pierre remembered the redheads' tits, and not much else. He did always fancy the way her red hair always made her little titties seem so much bigger.
“I am sort of surprised at your long tenure at the Potan, Le Mon,” Pierre said. “All the chefs before you quit after two years, always in search of something better. You are far greater than any of those who have left. Why have you not left me for sweeter grapes?”
Le Mon took a drink from another freshly popped Cools’ and searched for the words to come out of his mouth.
“I have found that the only certain thing in life is change. Why do I need to force it?” He took another drink. “Life will change and I will have to change with it. Doesn’t need any help from me to do that.”
A woman dressed as a French maid came running over to Pierre and Le Mon with a phone outstretched in her hand.
“Claudia, I told you that no one is disturb me on this night, no matter how important of customer they say…”
Claudia cut him off with a stern, “Zis is important”.
Pierre took the phone and listened for a few minutes before hanging up.
“Important, is it?” Le Mon questioned.
Pierre gave a faint smile. “Let’s go check out this ‘change’ you talked about, my friend.
By the time Pierre and Le Mon pulled up in the cab, the fire had spread to the rooftop, all but completely damning the Potan Del La De Magnus to it’s fate in the flames.
A tall, fat man came running over to the two of them as they exited the cab and stared at the towering inferno.
“Pierre! There was an accident!” The fat man wheezed once he was standing in front of them and their view of the blaze.
“It seems so, Michael.” Pierre cool and calmly replied.
“Do you want to know how it started?” Michael, the fat man asked nervously.
Pierre looked at Le Mon who looked right back at Pierre and gave a wave of his hands and a shrug of his shoulders.
“No, Michael, an excuse is not necessary for me. What’s done is now doing.” Pierre answered back. “Though I’m sure the insurance agent will have some questions.”
Michael gave the look of knowing what had happened was mostly his fault and shrinked back into the crowd of onlookers, gathered around to see the flames of the Potan Del La De Magnus.
“It seems you were right about life changing things up enough without having to do so yourself, my friend”, Pierre told Le Mon in the burning orange brightness of the fire.
Le Mon gave a little chuckle, but he could see his boss and friend was extremely hurt by the scene in front of them. Pierre had spent nearly his whole life, from a teenager washing dishes, to becoming the manager and operator of the finest restaurant in all of Florence.
He was watching his entire life go up into night, carried by black smoke and bright embers.
Though they stood there for what seemed like minutes, yet the sun started rising once the flames had gone down. Pierre and Le Mon had spent the entire night watching the Potan Del La De Magnus come back to ash of the Earth.
When they had finally turned away from the scene, the party bus that Pierre had hired for the party came wheeling up to the Potan.
Pierre had rented the party bus to take his friends home after their festivities, but now it was full of all the employees of the Potan, their gasps audible all the way from the end of the block, giving them their first sight of the burnt-out husk that was the Potan Del La De Magnus.
Pierre gave a smile. A real smile.
He turned to Le Mon.
“Looks like the party just got a much bigger send-off this year.” Pierre then looked at his employees, all of them staring near-teary eyed at the charcoal remains of their former employment.
“Cheer up, my friends! We will rebuild and life will continue to change without us wanting it to or not!”
Everyone gave a acknowledging nod, but continued to look sullen.
“For now,” Pierre continued,” We have a party to attend!”
That caused a hearty cheer to rise from everyone as Le Mon and Pierre hopped onto the party bus with hugs and handshakes and leaving the burnt husk of the Potan Del La De Magnus to continue the greatest party in all of Florence.