What the heck. A quick toss-off to occupy a lonely evening at home. Not beta’d, edited or seriously thought out. Just a little recreation for the finger tips. 556 words.
Mort found life interesting and death interesting. Fraser found Mort interesting, a type of person with whom he seldom interacted. The old man had been a very young boy when in the concentration camp; only those who had been very young then were still around now. So he hung around the morgue chatting a bit more than duty demanded.
Mort, for his part, tolerated the Mountie’s apparently clinical interest and waited for Fraser to loosen up enough for them to become real friends. It didn’t take long before Mort invited his new chum to his own home. By this time Fraser already knew that Mort was a widower and lived alone just outside Chicago in the house in which he and his wife, Bella, had raised and married off four children.
There was one thing that Fraser wanted from Mort, something specific that Mort was the only one in his acquaintance that could provide. He confided what that was to Mort on the first occasion that they were in Mort’s house alone together.
“You don’t have to be ashamed to say you want that,” Mort assured him. “I understand. I’ve been without my Bella a long time. She used to give me, but now, if I want some I have to go elsewhere or do it myself.”
“I’m a little embarrassed to ask,” the Mountie admitted.
“No, please. I’m flattered you asked. I guess you want it soft?” Mort said, setting about to comply with what Fraser wanted.
“Soft? I had no idea soft was even possible!”
Mort chuckled. “You’re inexperienced in these matters, I see.”
Fraser was somewhat embarrassed. “I’ve only had hard ones. I . . . I . . . I didn’t know people even . . .”
Mort’s chuckle grew to a laugh, but an affectionate one. “Hard ones are easy to do. I know people who like hard ones. Lazy people, if you ask me. Benton, there’s a real technique to having success with soft ones.”
Fraser was intrigued.
Mort continued, “I learned from my Bella. When we were first married she told me she refused to ever put a hard one in her mouth.”
“I find that fascinating.”
“Bella learned from her mother. She taught me. Mind you, it takes patience. The trick, my Mountie friend, is to leave them untouched for a while. The longer you leave them, the softer they get.”
Fraser had to admit this made some kind of sense.
“If you’re impatient, you might wait maybe twenty minutes. My Bella wouldn’t touch it until it had been standing at least an hour.”
Fraser was willing to be patient and wait for the treat that would come.
“When an hour is up, we roll them our hands. The hands should be wet so nothing sticks. You’ll see when we do it.”
Fraser watched, fascinated, while Mort stirred a substance much like bread crumbs but whiter in colour and coarser in texture into a bowl that already contained eggs, oil, salt and a little water. Then he covered the bowl with cling-wrap and put it in the refrigerator.
“We have some time, so I’ll make us up some chicken soup. After this batter sits for an hour, we’ll make little balls and boil them in the soup. Then, Fraser, you’ll have the best matzoh balls you ever had.”