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[QUOTE] Sometimes simple is best. [i]It was around 6:30 when Spoon finally rolled into the Hotel Onsy. "Dusty old place," he thought. But then, they all were. What was Ishmael doing running Red Crown like this, sending him off to tired old flophouses when he was on duty, he wondered. "Checking in, mate? Nice weather today," chirped the strangely bulldog-faced hotel owner from behind the counter. His accent struck Spoon as more British than French. "Cool it, pops, I'm just here to hit the hay between cases, don't need any small talk," Spoon growled. If he could just figure out where that dame Ms. P had disappeared to, he was sure she'd spill the beans on where his missing partner Bradley had been seen last. Unfortunately, everyone on his hallway seemed to have some logic puzzle they wanted solved. "Buncha simps and glamor queens, but guess I was asking for it, coming to a joint like this." But why was the annoyingly cheerful owner so insistent that he avoid Room 102, which he kept calling the "yogurt room?"[/i] Maou wasn't going anywhere, but the elevator music kept playing anyway. That's just the kind of place Hotel Cafe M was, between the moping old men and the expats, a place where nothing seemed to move. But Maou liked that. A man needs rocks, and this grand mouldering lady was the hardest there was in the windy old port city of San Francisco. The impish Thai man was sitting at the lounge bar, playing with his beer again. He had a named tha [/URL][/b][/s][/i][color=660000]-- Message too long, Autoquote has been Snipped --[/color][/QUOTE] The kitchen bell rang out sharply, and the Professor received and delivered a massive plate of food to Rich with a leisurely smoothness that entirely concealed how quickly he did it. Laid before Rich was a thick steak, crispier than chips on the outside and smoky enough to be smelled through the pall of tobacco that hung in the lounge. He cut into it with relish, and his plate soon had the look of a Chinatown butcher's block as deep red juices flowed across it. A woody aroma of yeast emerged as he noisily broke the crust of a roll and sopped up the tinted stream. The moist, pink crumb of the roll was soon capped by a daffodil-yellow smear of butter, and Rich's face filled with satisfaction as he ate it. Men of power and wealth have known less happiness than him at that moment. Rich was, without a doubt, eating richly. Breaking from his ecstasy, Rich turned his attention to Maou. "You can see, I am [i]eating[/i]", Rich said, paying special attention to the last word. "I [i]can[/i] see that", Maou replied, unable to garnish his own words with that same degree of attention. "There is nothing more universal and more sacred than eating. Every man, woman, child, and animal on every place on Earth eats. Whether they believe in God or not, whether they have studied or not, whether they have sinned or not, every man has rituals and taboos about food and eating. These rituals and taboos are called [i]table manners[/i], and breaking them is deeply repugnant: you can see how people recoil, how their gazes change, how they whisper, when a guest breaks them. How carefully they must step around the taboo! How difficult it is to explain the offence to the offender! How steeped they are in the mystery, the religion of eating!" Rich relayed this wisdom to Maou with a mouth full of food, stopping only to clear his mouth with a great swallow of beer. Maou opened a menu. His work, if it could be called that, had left him tired, and the spectacle of Rich's [i]eating[/i] provoked his appetite even moreso than the food itself. Maou turned his head to beckon the Professor, but the gesture was hardly needed: the Professor arrived to hear his order exactly as Maou was ready to speak it. "Just a burger", Maou said. "Just a burger", the Professor politely confirmed. [:jojo_tobecontinued:]
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