Zack Newkirk, staff
In order to impress my date that evening, I ordered my steak rare. The waiter gave me a look — which I took to mean, “Nice job, man. She’s impressed.” — and slithered away. I winked at my date. “Impressed?” I said. She looked confused.
We made small talk until the food arrived. I started when the steak was placed before me: It looked overcooked. Burnt, even. “What’s this?” I said to the waiter. “Medium rare,” he replied.
I coughed politely. “I don’t want medium rare. And even if I had wanted that, this is well done, my friend. I just want rare. Is that possible?” The waiter bowed slightly and disappeared with the plate. My date stared at me over her fettuccine. I gave her another wink to put her at ease.
When the steak came back, it was most definitely less-cooked than the previous steak had been. But it was still too cooked for my taste. “This is it?” I asked. The waiter nodded.
I examined it by poking at it a little with my fork, sniffing it, etc. There was a nice sear on it, but I could tell the inside was very tender and juicy. I glanced up at my date. I couldn’t tell if she was impressed yet.
“Take this back,” I thundered to the waiter. “Bring me an even rarer steak. The rarest you have.” The waiter’s eyes narrowed as he considered me, then he once again disappeared. I dove back into small talk with my date, taking special care to mention the weather we’d been having.
The waiter returned a moment later, still holding the previous plate of steak. “I’m sorry, sir, but the chef says that’s the very rarest he can provide. We cannot legally give you anything rarer than this steak.” I could tell my date was not impressed by this. She began to sink into her chair.
At this point I stood, drawing myself up to my full height. “What did you say?” I demanded. The waiter repeated his apology word for word.
“What?” I asked again. He blinked and began again, but this time I stopped him. “Never mind. Let me speak to this so-called chef.” The waiter, his head drooping with shame, turned to lead me toward the kitchen. I winked at my date, who was surely horrified by this restaurant’s lack of impressively rare steak.
The chef was over the flatiron grill, seasoning some fish, when the waiter presented me. “Look,” he said, exasperated. “You’re gonna get sick and maybe even die if I don’t cook the steak a little. It’s a health code violation. I could get shut down here. And I need my job. You don’t know how expensive it is to own the quantity of things I have.”
“OK, I get that,” I said, “but I’m trying to impress my date, all right? How am I supposed to impress her if I’m not eating the rarest steak I can eat?”
“Trust me,” said the chef through tears, “I understand. I have experience trying to impress my date with rare steak. But my hands are tied. Please, you have to believe me. Please…” He sunk to his knees, his wide shoulders heaving with each sob.
I was prepared to go back to my date empty-handed and bear the ignominy of being rare-steak-less — but the waiter leaned in toward me and whispered: “Hey, bro… if you want something really rare, meet me out back by the tree.” And with that, he was gone.
Now, when I say “he was gone,” I mean he walked outside through the rear kitchen door. I followed him. It was dark out, and a little cold. The weather was certainly the exact way I had spoken about to my date not minutes before.
“What’s this all about?” I said.
“My uncle, he owns a ranch up in the hills. I can get you rare… the rarest you’ll ever eat.” He said this last part with a secretive grin.
You could say my curiosity was piqued.
Three hours later we tramped through the snow, the moonlight our guide across a once-green meadow in a mountain clearing. We were heavily-clothed: I in a parka with a Russian-style fur hat, while the waiter wore a parka and a Russian-style fur hat. We both held rifles.
“I’m getting hungry, pal,” I grumbled in a way I figured sounded like Harrison Ford when he gets all grumpy. The waiter threw out his arm — silence, it meant — and knelt. He nodded ahead, and I saw it: a cow.
“Ay chihuahua,” I said, imagining the rare meat the beast could provide me.
“I figure you hit it above the heart from here no problem,” whispered the waiter. “We’re at what, thirty yards? And the wind is coming out of –“
“Woah, woah,” I hissed. “We take this bad boy down now and we gotta haul it all the way back to the coast in a warm truck. I want rare, baby. You feel me? Rare.”
He peered at me appraisingly. “I thought you might say that,” he whispered, and he produced a rope from his parka.
“Now we’re talking,” I said.
The cop looked at us quizzically, me and the waiter. He had pulled us over because we had a cow in the back of my 1987 Toyota pickup, which seemed curious to him; now he had us standing outside the vehicle, hands on his hips.
“You say you wanted a rare steak?” he said. I nodded. He considered this, then reached for his radio. “I’m going to have to call this in.”
“Now!” screamed the waiter, and he yanked razor wire from the sleeve of his parka and lunged forward. The cop, startled, had his sidearm out in a split second and unloaded it into the waiter’s gut — somewhere between three and six shots rang out in quick succession, and the waiter grunted. But it was too late by then, and his fists were behind the cop’s head, the razor wire lacerating windpipe, jugular, and digging at bone. They both gurgled and wheezed, and then they were gone. Steam rose from their collective blood as it pooled around their twitching bodies.
“Yikes,” I muttered to the cow. “Let’s get the heck out of here.”
Two hours later, near closing time, I was back at the restaurant. I led the cow inside by its makeshift leash and to my table — but my date was gone. “You gotta be kidding me,” I said, and the cow sympathetically farted.
Around 2 a.m., after five minutes straight of knocking, she warily opened her door to find me standing on the stoop, my arm around the cow. “So here’s where you live,” I laughed. “Cool, cool. So, uh, I just wanted to show you what I got here –” and with that I bit into the cow’s shoulder. It mooed, annoyed, and jogged away across my date’s lawn. Blood poured down my chin as I chewed the perfectly rare meat. My date, now thoroughly impressed, screamed, and I winked.