Between stealing government secrets and sleeping with unbelievable women, I recall when I’d have some time to spend with the weekend newspaper; just me and the weighty Saturday Star or, if I’d forgotten to pick one up, a yucky morning yarn with Christie Blatchford and the Sun. It didn’t matter that much either way because I was young, licensed to kill, and coffee was always the first thing on the table at the local breakfast nook.
Recently it’s gotten real bad. Where I used to have a chance to read of my covert yet well publicized exploits of the previous day, I now barely have time to get through one story before the bacon’s hit the table. In fact, the order’s in the kitchen the moment my foot hits the establishment’s floor. That’s bad juju for a man with no name and a price on his head.
It’s sad to see how much the quality has slipped.
Chew Chew’s Diner used to be a reliably shady spot where I could relax with a paper and surveil my targets. I now have to resort to poring over the comics with after-breakfast coffee and sometimes wonder whether I should even bother bringing a paper anymore. Other than its use for covertly delivering microfilm or defending against knife attacks, I barely get a quarter’s worth out of it.
At least not everything in the place has gone to hell. I get a smile and a “good morning, Patrick” from the staff who’s names I’ve yet to learn (I’m hard that way and change for no one). The interior of the place is one I assume to be inspired by fifties’ java joints; red booths, stainless steel, and espionage-efficient layout running the length of the narrow eatery. It has remained spotless and surveillance-bug-free since my first visit, and I have no reason to suspect that the kitchen has betrayed me. Yet.
I await the day when I run afoul of a nefarious international spy ring or organized crime syndicate. I’d be pretty easy to poison (in the relaxed way befitting a weekend), with my clockwork order of the three-egg breakfast, brown toast, and coffee. Black.
One day, perhaps a few years from now, I might get the waffles. Today, I live dangerously.
I can thus provide an expert examination of the staple plate that every good breakfast place must have. Chew Chew’s keeps it simple, starting out with a couple of healthy looking pieces of fruit that, in the context of the plate are there mostly for colour. Healthy’s on the next page. If you want hard liquor with a side of steely death, I believe they’re licensed too (don’t quote me on that).
A proper field agent breakfast includes eggs. A whole new paragraph just for eggs? Yup. They may not be much in a gun fight but they’re pretty versatile otherwise. To mask my pitiless brood, I take mine sunny side up. In order for it to qualify as a proper greasy spoon, a restaurant’s eggs must have a layer of grease that is both thick enough to exhaust repeated attempts to pick them up while being simultaneously thin enough for there to be more egg than grease. Chew Chew’s walks this tightrope with deft, almost deadly precision, producing eggs that are both tasty and impossible to get on the fork. At least, they would be if “impossible” wasn’t my middle name (no, surprisingly not “danger”).
Enter the bread.
Evenly browned and copiously buttered, the toast comes in unpretentious white and brown. Pumpernickel and other fancy-schmancy breads aren’t on the menu, but you can probably get them if you ask. In my opinion, without proper Beluga caviar and the coldest Cold War Soviet vodka, why bother?
Next the bacon. It’s how I would have wanted Blofeld to die; salty, dried, and crisp. As part of my incredible arsenal of knowledge, I recall watching a training film about the differences between dry and wet cured bacon. My keen eye spotted it on my plate right away; bacon that’s straight as a board. This dry cured strip is a bit less salty, a bit harder to come by, but crisps up nicer and tastes marvelous. (lip smack)
The potatoes are the one thing I could possibly change. The cook adds onions which really puts a damper on my ability to get intimate with the ladies. Plus, they add a funny aftertaste that just doesn’t do anything for anything. Oh well, I guess that’s the kind of danger that goes hand in hand with the hard-edged life I lead.
Orange juice is freshly squeezed. Analyzed by Q branch and came back authentic. Vodka, Florida sunshine, and a golden bullet make for a great ending to a meal. Here’s why:
At this point I’d usually get up to leave but today a heavy hand clasps my left shoulder and pushes me back down into my chair.
I drink the OJ down until there’s only about an inch more at the bottom. I put the glass down, stare Breznedev coldly in the one eye without the patch as he sits to face me, and with ice coursing through my veins I say, “Last chance. If you leave now, I might let you keep the other eye.”
Of course, I’ve no intention of doing that.
I know that as I take my last gulp of morning happiness, he’s reaching, infuriated, for his standard issue. I slam the glass back down, the gold bullet that had been laying dormat under the final inch of juice now lazily ricocheting up the inside as if in slow motion. It’s registered by Breznedev’s eye with horror and disbelief as a slim trickle of blood makes its way down his face from a hole in his forehead. The effect is cool beyond words.
“Should’ve looked both ways before crossing me,” I chuckle, thinking how clever the line is on a former nemesis with one eye as I put the smoking gun back into my jacket, pay the reasonable $11 bill, and leave for my first appointment of the day with destiny.
Horrible service, but I’ll probably be back again next week.