Funny stories in under 500 words.

Three Brothers

This funny story is all that, and Dim Sum! Written by Susan J. Powers, this tale takes you on a ride to the Three Brothers Chinese restaurant, where our protagonist must prove herself a worthy chef. Susan's stories have appeared in numerous zines and publications. She's also a recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship and an IAC Grant, and two of her stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
Wanted love, needed work. Saw an ad in the Job Mart and answered it. Wanted, it read: Dim Sum Cook. Must have experience, good health, and must prepare such dishes as: Chak Slu Bow, Shrimp Har Gau and Stuffed Duck Feet.

I’d lived in China, worked in China, cooked in China for four years. I was the woman who knew Dim Sum cookery like the back of her tattooed hand; Stuffed Duck Feet was my specialty. I read the ad again - $495 a week, 1-1/2 for overtime - and prepared myself to meet the Three Brothers.

I showered, shaved my ruined head, put on my finest kung fu jacket and pants, then slipped my powdered feet into soft-soled shoes and called for a cab. The driver was a young man with an air of quiet confidence. Neat brown curls hugged the back of his ears. From the rear-view mirror I studied his eyes, twinkling eyes the color of ginger. When they turned their attention to me, I read their meaning.

“Whaddaya think?” I said. “I’m just some ugly kind of man? Listen,” I said, “under all this cloth, I’m not so bad.”

I explained about Chinese tradition, Dim Sum cookery and the Three Brothers. Which explained, I said, my need to disguise myself as a man. He laughed and I thought: this is a man who at least pretended to understand. He said his favorite dish was Shrimp Har Gau. I said, when we get to Three Brothers, wait.

Brother One bowed, admired my shoes and introduced Brother Two who took me on a tour through the kitchen. There Brother Three, knees bent, leaned over the sink dicing beans. “Does she keyboard?” asked Three, scrutinizing my tattoos most displeasurably.

“I’ve lived in your country,” I said. “I understand your customs. I make a tremendous Wu Gork, a really tangy Shrimp Har Gau.”

Three stopped dicing. “Must know Mail Merge,” he told Two.

“Forget overtime,” I said. “I love family business. Who needs overtime? Beef Meat Ball? Very delicious. I cook any Dim Sum you want. Are there other applicants?”

One turned and threw open the back door. Eight bald women dressed in kung fu outfits lined against a brick wall. The air stunk of decay and dog manure. Hunger growled in my throat, gnawed at my bones; my knees buckled to the floor. In the process of collapse, I promised to take dictation. One shut the door.

The fresh smell of Three Brothers slowly crept back to my nose. Fresh bok choi, scallions, pea pods; a savory pot of vegetable soup simmered on the stove.

The cabbie said his name was Mike. He took me to a costume shop where I bought some hair. He offered free love, free beer and free faith. He believed in Life with a capital L, and radial tires. Also, he said, he was not opposed to big tips.

He spent the night.




Photo by Japanresor on Unsplash, edited by David Gregory.

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