Betting on Bailey

By: Tara Crescent

“Friends?” His voice is icy, sending shivers down the back of my neck. “You’ll be begging me to take you back in no time. You stupid bitch. Have you seen yourself in the mirror?” He shakes his head. “Pathetic and fat.”

There’s an ugly glass vase that sits on a side table in the tiny foyer of our apartment. It belonged to Trevor’s grandmother, and is something of a family heirloom. I’ve always hated where it’s located - I’m terrified that I’ll knock it off and it’ll break.

Right now, it’s everything I can do to keep myself from throwing it at his head.

“Goodbye, Trevor.” Forget about being friends, you jerk. I never want to see you again.

* * *

There’s a scene in Kill Bill that has always stuck with me. It’s almost at the end of the second movie. Beatrice has finally found Bill in a remote Mexican village and is in the process of confronting him. Bill’s attempting to interrogate her and in the process, he talks about superheroes. Specifically, the myth of Superman.

I’m enough of a geek that I can quote the exact phrase, though the precise wording isn’t important. The gist of it is that there are superheroes and their alter egos. Bruce Wayne puts on a costume to become Batman. Peter Parker becomes Spider Man. Superman however, is the exception to the rule, because Clark Kent doesn’t become Superman. No, Superman is always a superhero. Clark Kent is his disguise. His way of mingling with us mortals.

I first saw Kill Bill back in my graduate school days, when I still felt like Superman. Then, I was publishing papers and making an impact in my field. I was set to finish my PhD in record time, and I was being recruited by universities from around the world. I’d come off a difficult field assignment, living in Siberia for a year. I had felt invincible.

The girl who had been Superman would have never put up with Trevor’s insults and cruelty, but for the last year, I’ve been stuck in Clark Kent mode. I’ve forgotten how to be amazing.

It’s time for that to end.


Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin


Neither of my two New York restaurants are open for lunch during the week, so it’s not often that I see my staff during the day. This sunny Friday morning in May is the exception.

We are gathered in the bar area of Seb New York, tense and waiting. All eyes are on my cell phone, which rests on top of the polished mahogany bar. Bottles of champagne dot the counter, but no one pops the cork yet. We aren’t a superstitious bunch, but to open the bottle before we receive the call? We won’t tempt fate that way.

The Michelin staff calls at noon on Friday. Five minutes to go.

Seb New York has one Michelin star, an honor shared by only twenty-three other restaurants in New York. In a few minutes, we’ll find out if we’ve earned the coveted second star. If we have? Then, I can write my own ticket. Not bad for a kid from Mississippi who didn’t even finish high school.

I look around the room. Helen, my sous-chef at Seb New York, is pacing back and forth. Ben, the sous-chef of my second restaurant, Seb II is watching her, absently chewing on a nail. The expression on his face is a mixture of anticipation and envy. Seb New York gets all the accolades, and Seb II is the new kid on the block. Ben’s an ambitious chef, and I’m sure he’d love to be in Helen’s place right now.

Next to me, Juliette’s playing with her phone. She’s the outsider in this gathering. The rest of us cook together, night after night. There’s a rhythm that comes with that, and a shared sense of camaraderie that can be exclusionary.

Juliette, on the other hand, doesn’t belong in the kitchen. She’s cheerfully confessed that she can’t even make toast without burning it. She doesn’t need to. She’s my business manager, smart, ambitious and driven. I hired her six months ago, and already, she’s got me my own show on the Food Network and arranged a book deal with a top New York publisher.

There’s only one person missing. Daniel Hartman, my partner in both restaurants, and my best friend. He’s in Kansas City today on an unavoidable business trip. It feels odd to face this moment without him. Daniel has been my biggest supporter throughout my career. If it wasn’t for him, I’d probably still be cooking in the diner I worked in when I first moved to New York.

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