Ghost chef

Everyone has gone out to eat and seen the chefs on the line in the open kitchen toiling away to create the wonderful dishes that they are about to consume. Some people watch in awe at the talent that the chefs have and wish that they were so lucky. Others watch with a despairing eye thinking that they will catch some kind of screw up on the part of the chefs. Others still will watch simply for the entertainment value of it all.
Personally, I watch not because of any of these things. I watch because I, too, am a chef and I just like to watch my brothers in arms carry on the good fight. I watch as they slice, dice, chop, saute, grill, bake and arrange their way through a busy night. I take note when a plate is spotted that is less than perfect and watch with intent to see how they will respond to it. I watch as an observer as if it is an out of body experience because I have been in their position. I have been the chef in the fish bowl being watched and it is interesting to be on the other side for a change.
Truth be told I have not worked in some time as a chef. Not since the day that I encountered the ghost chef. I have been scared to pick up my knife and cut a fine brunoise of red pepper to garnish my perfectly balanced Lobster bisque. I tremble at the ides of tourneeing a radish to top my braised pork shank. The ghost chef was the last straw for me in an industry that is already tense enough as it is.
To make you understand I need to tell you more about myself and my career. I have worked in restaurants for over 20 years and thought I had seen everything. I have had women flash their breasts at me and my colleagues while in a meeting simply because we were the chefs. I have had people complain that a roasted garlic soup was too garlicky for her tastes. I have seen the best and the worst line cooks come and go. None of these did anything to prepare me for the encounter I had with the chef ghost.
My work had brought me to a new kitchen where I was to take over the position of sous chef. The chef in charge of the kitchen was Gary. Gary was very intimidating at 6'4" and 250 pounds. He commanded the attention of all the men on the line and demanded the very best from everyone that came into contact with him. He would not accept bad ingredients from vendors, or bad plates from line cooks. If anything made him angry it would be to seem in the least bit uncooperative with his ultimate view of how the kitchen should be run. It was his way or the highway.
This was all fine for me as I would settle for nothing but the best in my work either. I fell into the work easily and was commended often by chef Gary. I would often go home dreaming up ideas for new dishes with the simple idea that I was going to blow Gary away. I don't think that I ever truly astounded him as he had risen to a stage in his career that I can only hope to attain. He worked on dishes with the knowledge of someone that had been doing it for over 100 years. Knowing that was impossible it gave me hope that I would absorb enough inspiration from him to gain his level of expertise myself one day.
One night as I worked on the labor expense report that the restaurant manager needed I heard a knock at the back door. Usually after the crew left there was someone to come back that had forgotten something so I thought nothing of opening the door to let whoever it was in. BIG mistake. Who I ended up letting in was a couple of robbers. They backed me up with the prompting of their guns. Knowing that Gary was also in the restaurant somewhere flirting with the new hostess that had caught his eye I worried that he would spook the guys. I also didn't want for him to get hurt so I led them into the office where the money was that they were demanding.
Just as I was getting them close to the office door I spotted Gary at the entrance to the kitchen. He surveyed the scene unseen by the robbers. In an effort not to draw any attention to him I looked down to test the door. I looked back up as I opened the door inward with no sight of Gary. Hoping that he simply went to get help I led the robbers into the office where I stalled by fumbling nervously with the combination of the lock. Just as I finally got the door open I turned to see Gary at the door bloody knife in hand and a face as white as his chef coat.
The two robbers were on the floor dead and thankfully there seemed to not be a mark on Gary's body. I could not for the life of me figure out why Gary was so pale.Hoping that is was just the shock at what he had done, I tried to tell him everything was OK, but there was no response. As I told him again that everything was OK, he fell to his knees and began to cry. I stood erect and walked to him. Just then I noticed that there was actually three bodies on the floor. I only remembered two robbers coming in, so the third body confused me. I stepped over the three figuring that it didn't matter how many there were as long as they were not going to hurt us.
All I wanted was to make Gary know that what he did was OK. Hell, he probably saved my life. I tried to talk to him for what seemed like forever, but elicited no response. In a final attempt to console him as the sirens got closer I went to put my hand on him, but my hand went right through. Confused at first, I tried again with the same result. This could not be! I have never believed in ghosts, but how could I not now with proof like this. Scared, I took a few steps back from Gary.
Just then he spoke his first words since he entered the scene which still rock my world to this day, "Why did they have to kill you man, I was just about to make you my chef de cuisine." Amazed and confused I stared at him and then around the rest of the room at the bodies again. I realized then that the third body had a rumpled chef coat on. This was not as surprising as the giant exit wound from a hollow point bullet in the head. Staring at the dead body on the floor it now made sense why my hand would go through Gary. I was dead and a ghost.
Unsure what to do with myself, I spent a long time wandering the streets and trying to find out what my next stop was. I finally found that the only thing that brought me any joy was to watch those commit to the life that I loved and dream of the days when I was doing the same. I know that I could do it if I wanted to. I have learned to move things with my ghostly hands, but not wanting to spook anyone, I leave it for the living. I can only watch and remember. So, the next time you are eating dinner at a fancy restaurant with an open kitchen and you feel a chill on the back of your neck, don't look for the out of whack air vent. It is just me watching my brethren. Go back to eating your Osso Bucco please.