Chapter 84:

Changes around the house

The Y-files [GL]

Anna and I had split ways before I entered the brasserie. She knew I wanted to talk with my mom and decided to give us some space. We would see each other tomorrow for our date at the Wellness Center, which I won in my bet with the mayor.Bookmark here

As I entered, I noticed that our brasserie was full again. If this continued, mom would have to hire plenty more people just to keep up with the work.Bookmark here

I could feel the eyes of the customers on me. It had become an unwritten rule, that people should not approach me here, because I lived here, I should be given some peace in my own house. Our regulars had enforced that policy by talking to people that harassed me for autographs and the like.Bookmark here

When Tory passed me, I decided that I should say something about her concert yesterday.Bookmark here

Hey Tory!”Bookmark here

What's up Claire?”Bookmark here

Congratulations on your sold-out concert in Bozart. I was really surprised that our Tory was that famous.”Bookmark here

Tory blushed and then started laughing. “I did not know you read the newspapers. Well, they did mention you too. It was only the small hall, that hardly counts as a sold-out Bozar in my book. I can't wait until the day that I get to play a concerto and fill the large hall. I had not expected that kind of crowd to be honest. Ans, my old teacher made some publicity for me on the radio. After that, the concert was sold out in a matter of hours.”Bookmark here

Newspapers? Had I been in the newspapers again?Bookmark here

Then a blitz looking dark-haired woman, in a short dress with boots up to her knees carrying a fancy camera approached us “I am sorry to bother the two of you, but rather than take a sneaky paparazzi shot, I wondered if I could take a picture of the two of you together, and then have a little interview. I am sure, showing how connected she is, will benefit Tory's career. A nice picture of her and the Yuri Jeanne D'Arc could do wonders.Bookmark here

She gave us both her card: Rita R. Dando. Collegium Musicum Magazine.Bookmark here

Oh my God! You're from Collegium Musicum!” Tory became so excited that Mari came to take a peek from the kitchen. Apparently, this is a big magazine in the world of classical music. She looked at me with puppy eyes.Bookmark here

Well, it became really hard to refuse, after seeing Tory like that... But before I said yes, I asked “May I ask what it is exactly that you want to write about?”Bookmark here

Rita's eyes started burning with passion, before answering in a swirl full of passion “I want the story of the hard-working international student. Slaving away in a small brasserie in Brussels, while striving for her dream to become a laureate of the Queen Elizabeth Competition. The protegee of the great Ans Semble with such a humble background. I just had to write about it, after seeing that wonderful concert yesterday.”Bookmark here

I'd love to help, but I think we need mom's permission too. Since Tory is working, and you want to write about the brasserie.”Bookmark here

Oh, the owner? She can join the interview and be in the pictures too! I'd love to add some pictures of everyone in the brasserie.” She seemed to be really enthusiastic. How long was this article with only a “short interview” going to be? I started regretting not running to the kitchen immediately. I was beginning to realize that this “short interview” wasn't going to be short at all.Bookmark here

I called mom over and she was delighted but said that Rita would have to interview the staff separately because the customers needed to be served.Bookmark here

So Rita started out with a photoshoot.Bookmark here

First a quick picture of Mom, Tory, and me, and a real quick picture of all the staff together. After that she started asking Tory and me for a few different poses, it was immediately clear that I was going to be a big part of this article.Bookmark here

When the interview started, I got to hear some of Tory's background, and I was impressed by her determination to come to Belgium, and compete in the Queen Elizabeth contest.Bookmark here

She asked how we got to know each other, and I just said that I walked in on their job interview. I did not mention the eclairs, and luckily Tory didn't either.Bookmark here

Rita moved over to interview the other employees one by one and after half an hour of talking to mom, she came back excitedly. “Tory, I heard you play here sometimes. Lisa gave you permission to play for the customers tonight so that I could take some pictures.”Bookmark here

When Tory and I started rolling out the piano, the other customers were looking curious about what we were doing.Bookmark here

Then, when Tory started to play, the whole dining hall became silent and listened. She played a very catchy jazzy tune that I did not immediately recognize. When her song finished, she received big applause, asking to play another song. I heard one of the regulars ask if it was going to be a regular occurrence, that Tory played here, so mom said “As long as Tory works for us, and she agrees, this will be a regular thing on Friday evenings.”Bookmark here

Tory seemed really glad for the opportunity. To be paid for playing music is what being a professional musician was all about after all.Bookmark here

While Tory played, I helped mom do Tory's job, because it was really busy. Some customers were really glad to get into contact with me this way. When I had a moment I brought Rita an aperitif on the house and a few of my shrimp croquettes, to get her in a good mood. When I saw her surprised face when she ate one of the croquettes, I knew for sure the article would be really positive.Bookmark here

I caught her saying to herself “She plays jazz too, and has a regular gig, obtained by merit alone. Splendid. And then this brasserie. Traditional, but open to modern values, and if these croquettes are anything to go by, the food here is marvelous for the prices. This has everything for a splendid article!”Bookmark here

Rita was clearly finished with her work and kept watching as long as Tory played.Bookmark here

When Tory returned to her duties, I could finally make my way to my kitchen. When I got to the apartment, Frank was playing with Emma. “Good, you're here, then I can go back to work.”Bookmark here

Frank said.Bookmark here

Oops. I think we forgot to mention Frank for the article. We just went over everyone present and took a group picture among everyone there. I hope Frank would not get his hands on the next Collegium Musicum. I am sure he will feel cheated out of his moment of fame. Well, whatever. What were the chances of that ever happening?Bookmark here

I'll prepare dinner,” I answered.Bookmark here

Fine, but I'll skip. I will make something for myself downstairs. You can eat with mom and Emma. I cannot take a break after not being there for so long.” Frank always kept up an amazing work ethic.Bookmark here

To be sure that Emma wouldn't do anything wrong, I put her in front of an animated film with a headphone. It was something about two princesses, she was always talking fondly about.Bookmark here

That way I could be myself in the kitchen.Bookmark here

I decided to make a 'philosopher'. Since I had lost so much time, I could win some back to make deserts while the dish was in the oven.Bookmark here

I started by hacking the veggies. I had a lot of pent-up emotions from that whole situation with Fien and my dealings with Kath that I had to let out now. I decided to get more ingredients from the brasserie and make large quantities. That way, it could serve as the day special for the brasserie tomorrow. When making a tomato sauce, it was easy to make larger quantities with only a small input of extra work.Bookmark here

My biggest problem was the fact that I did not know what Kath was going to ask of me. I hacked and slashed away, and before I knew it the lovely waft of a simmering tomato sauce was filling the kitchen.Bookmark here

I added a good amount of cognac and let the alcohol boil out. I did not want to deal with a drunk three-year-old at the dinner table.Bookmark here

While the sauce simmered I prepared the mashed potatoes. I hoped Anna would at least eat something decent tonight. I had no idea what she cooked for herself. I guess she would be fine. She had been living by herself for a while now, so I am sure she can make something for herself.Bookmark here

After portioning everything for the brasserie and for our meal tonight. I put our dinner into the oven. That gave me a good 30 minutes to make some dessert, and I knew just the thing. Since the oven would be warm, I could make some Apple balls from Antwerp. It wasn't too much work, and I could put them into the oven while we ate.Bookmark here

I went downstairs to tell mom dinner was ready.Bookmark here

Then I started putting dinner on the table. When Emma saw, what we were eating for dinner, she became tremendously enthusiastic. She loved this dish, and I knew it. I loved pampering her like that. Well, I was her godmother, so it was my right to do so.Bookmark here

During dinner, there was some tension between me and my mom. I was expecting her to say something about her date yesterday, but instead, we sat there in loud silence. With that, I meant, that we were catering to a loud Emma, while not saying anything to each other. I wanted her to be the one to start talking though.Bookmark here

Claire, about yesterday.”Bookmark here

Ah, there it was. Finally, I would find out who this mystery bloke was.Bookmark here

There are going to be some serious changes around here. First of all, I met an old friend in Ostend, and she called me today to ask if her daughter Sam could start living and working here. She wants her daughter to get a taste of life in the capital. So she will be moving in here this weekend.”Bookmark here

This weekend? That was fast. This was a big change, but not what I wanted to know.Bookmark here

Is Frank okay with that?” I was sure mom had already talked to Frank, during the day.Bookmark here

Frank will have to be okay with it. I need the help waiting tables, packed like we are these days.”Bookmark here

At least it was a good thing extra help was coming. I hoped it would be someone nice if she was going to live here though.Bookmark here

Well I will be out most of the weekend, but I look forward to meeting her.”Bookmark here

It was an important change, that is true, but I hoped she would go over by herself to address the elephant in the room. I wanted to know how her bloody date went. The only thing I know is that she ended up at her best friend's house. So something must have happened. I lost my patience and decided to ask myself.Bookmark here

Won't you tell me anything about your date?”Bookmark here

Mom started laughing.Bookmark here

I was wondering how long you would last without asking.” mom said with a teasing voice, still avoiding the subject of course.Bookmark here

MOM!”Bookmark here

Fine, fine. Well, that is the second change. I am quite serious and decided that I want you and Frank to meet my new partner.”Bookmark here

So it was serious and went well. But then why did she end up at aunt Bernie's place?Bookmark here

Won't you tell me his name? Do I know him? Come on, tell me more.” I said. I was dying of impatience in the meantime. Who was this scoundrel that had taken away my mom?Bookmark here

That will be a surprise. But I can tell you, that you know them, and if you and Frank agree, I want to invite them to live here with me.”Bookmark here

To be honest. I did not like the sound of that. I did not want some father figure to boss me around.Bookmark here

When?” I said in a much colder voice.Bookmark here

Mom had noticed the change in my tone and stopped the teasing.Bookmark here

Next Thursday.” She answered me rather curtly.Bookmark here

Fine. I'll make sure to arrange with Ms. Lourdes that I'll be home in time.”Bookmark here

Just tell her I asked. I am sure she will agree.” I heard a new pleasant tease in her voice. She was having fun with me, wasn't she?Bookmark here

I got up to get the apple balls out of the oven. As soon as I got them Emma ran back to the table to get some of the fresh sweets. I cut off some pieces for her and told her to blow on them before putting them into her mouth. "We don't want her to burn herself, now do we?"Bookmark here

The conversation with mom was clearly over, and we went back to our loud silence. I could not really enjoy the dessert as my mind was preoccupied with everything that had just been said, but I noticed mom was enjoying her scheme of teasing me and letting me in the dark.Bookmark here

Belgian TriviaBookmark here

Filosoof (philosopher): Is a dish that consists of a tomato sauce with minced meat, celery, carrots, a bouquet garni, and hacked parsley, usually with some cognac. The sauce is then covered with mashed potatoes and gruyere cheese. Then it gets grilled in the oven. Kids are crazy about it.Bookmark here

Antwerpse appelbollen: Apple balls from Antwerp. Apples that are rolled in and filled with a sugar and cinnamon mix, packed in a puff pastry ball. A type of sweets mostly found in the region of Antwerp.Bookmark here

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