Friday, October 2, 2009

Where’s the Beef?

This happened in 2002. Aren't you glad we have recovered since then?

All week long I have been looking for a package of books with two tickets to a seminar my girlfriends and I plan to attend next week. Mary got hers; Kara got hers. I should have received mine, and the one I ordered for Donna by now. I called the bookstore to make sure they had sent them. They promised that they had, and gave me a tracking I.D and phone number to call. I called UPS and was told that they delivered the package to my front porch on January 3rd at 4:04 p.m. That was over a week ago and I still had not seen the books. I called Steve at home to have him check the front porch. He reported there was nothing there, and that he had not seen a package. A day later I called the bookstore again to have them put a tracer on the package. When I arrived home from work Friday the UPS driver was knocking at my door. I signed a voucher stating that I had not received the package so the sender could be reimbursed.

I put my things down on the dining room table and noticed a padded yellow envelope in the corner of the room beneath the high chair. I picked it up and opened it. It was from Malaprop’s bookstore containing two books and two tickets. “STEVE, what can you tell me about this package?”

“It came last week sometime.”

“Do you mean on January 3rd at 4:04 p.m.?”

“I dunno. Why?”

“Because this is the package I’ve been looking for all week! That is why UPS was knocking on our door just now.”


“Steve, why did you put it in such a remote and illogical place?”

“So Java wouldn’t get it.”

“Why would the dog want my package when she’s got dog balls in her bowl?” I asked, “Besides she could still reach it on the floor behind the high chair!”

“She was bothering it when I put it on the floor over here,” he said pointing to a place near the door.

“What about on the table? Next time could you put it on the table or in my room?”

I let it go when I noticed he was taking something out of the oven. He was making beef jerky. “Where did you get meat?” I asked. I knew there wasn’t much in the house in the way of groceries.

“I found a steak in the refrigerator.” No telling how long it had been in there, so I prayed a silent blessing over it as he took a bite and tried to offer some to me. “No, thanks,” I said graciously.

When Frankie got home from work, he and I went to the store to get food so the boy wouldn’t have to eat left olders. We brought home a nice chuck roast for Steve. His eyes lit up when I handed it to him, and he immediately went to work slicing and spicing. I had a terrible head cold so I went to lie down, while the boys made dinner.

The next day Steve got up and pulled out his chuck roast and started to work again. He said that since that I missed dinner last evening, I needed a makeup dinner. He said I could use a lesson on how to cook steaks and make jerky, so I watched as he taught me what I needed to know. While he was grilling the steaks, I pulled out some cabbage, celery, mushrooms, and onion to start a soup. Steve was curious about what I was making. “I like cabbage,” he said.

“I’ll share with you,” I replied as I caught a glimpse of his dad shaking his head, “NO!” while waving his hand under his nose. I gave him a puzzled look. Steve saw me and turned to see what dad was doing. Frankie explained that I might not like the effects cabbage would have on his boy later. The meal was nothing less than gourmet, and I enjoyed sharing the kitchen with my stepson. Afterward, Frankie took Steve with him on an errand, and I was left in charge of the jerky left baking on a sheet of foil in the oven.

The two returned in about an hour, and started working on the computer while I was reading a book in my room. Kathryn, Steve’s girlfriend arrived about the time Frankie went to the kitchen and opened a box of jalapeno poppers. When he put them in the oven, it reminded me of the jerky. I looked in the oven and didn’t see the jerky, only the poppers. “Where did you put the jerky when you put the poppers in the oven?” I asked Frankie.

“They were not in the oven.” That brought Steve and Kathryn to the kitchen.

“What did you do with my jerky?” asked Steve.

“What did YOU do with your jerky?” asked Frankie.
They both looked at me. “I didn’t move the jerky. I checked on it while you were gone but I didn’t take it out of the oven.”



“No.” I answered. “I told you I didn’t move it. Maybe Java ate it! She probably thought it was a book or a package in the mail.”

“She can’t open the oven!” Steve reminded us.

“Then who took the jerky?” Dad was really puzzled.

“Yeah, WHERE’S the beef?” I retorted.

We searched all over the kitchen for the hidden delicacy trying to discover who might be the one playing a practical joke. We even thought Kathryn might have moved it, or perhaps someone came in the backdoor and stole it, or maybe we had a ghost who likes jerky. We gave up after a while still wondering why no one was coming forward to claim the award for the best practical joke.

Kat and Steve were leaving when I smelled something burning. I opened the oven door to check on the poppers and noticed the edge of the foil under the baking sheet the poppers were on. “FRANKIE, you put the poppers on top of the jerky!”

“I did?”

“Yes, and it’s burning!”

He ran out the door to let Steve know the mystery had been solved. Steve came back in the house, grabbed his crunchy charred jerky, and left before anyone could hide it again. Is it gender or genetics that causes these two guys to hide things from themselves and others?

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