Hark! by Ed McBain

Book: Hark! by Ed McBain Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ed McBain
his walls. Plaques, too. Early June sunshine streamed through the windows and splashed onto the open menus.
    â€œHow many guests are we expecting?” he asked.
    â€œAbout a hundred,” Carella said.
    Teddy signed to him.
    Buddy looked politely puzzled.
    â€œA hundred and twelve ,” Carella corrected.
    Buddy already knew that Teddy Carella was a deaf-mute, speech-and-hearing impaired as they were calling it these days, but nonetheless a woman with devastating black hair and luscious dark brown eyes to match, absolutely gorgeous even when her fingers were flashing on the air, as they were now.
    Carella watched her flying fingers.
    â€œThe numbers keep changing every day,” he translated for her. And then added, “Either my mother or my sister keep inviting new people all the time.”
    â€œThis is so-o-oo cute, what they’re doing,” Buddy said. “The double wedding. Adorable. So let’s figure a hundred and ten people…”
    Reading his lips, Teddy again signed, A hundred and twelve.
    â€œYes, I know, darling,” Buddy said, almost as if he could read her hands. “I’m approximating. But let’s say a hundred and ten, a hundred and twelve. Will we be passing fingerlings around before dinner?”
    â€œFingerlings?” Carella said, and looked at Teddy.
    Finger food , she signed.
    â€œFig with liver mousse,” Buddy said, nodding. “Seared tuna on toast tips…well, here,” he said, and moved one of the sample menus to where Carella and Teddy sat opposite him. “Potato pancakes with avocado salsa…salmon and cucumber bites…goat cheese tartlets…and so on. We’ve got fifty or more fingerlings we can pass around before dinner is served.”
    â€œDo you think we’ll want fingerlings?” Carella asked.
    I think they might be nice , Teddy signed. With the drinks. Beforehand.
    â€œHow many different kinds of fingerlings would you suggest?” he asked Buddy.
    â€œOh, four or five. Half a dozen. That should be enough. We don’t want to get too complicated. And we don’t want to spoil our appetites for dinner, do we?”
    Reading his lips, Teddy signed, Maybe we should choose the dinner menu first.
    Carella translated.
    And come back to the hors d’oeuvres later.
    Hors d’oeuvres was a difficult word to sign. Or to read. She saw the puzzled look on her husband’s face. She corrected it at once.
    Finger food.
    Carella told Buddy what she’d said.
    â€œWell, yes, certainly, we can do it backwards if you prefer,” he said, sounding miffed.
    For the appetizers, he suggested three dishes from which the guests could choose. Either the lobster salad with black truffle dressing, or the Hamachi tuna tartare with caviar crème fraiche and smoked salmon, or the jumbo shrimp cocktail. For the main course, again a choice of three dishes. Either the roasted branzino stuffed with seafood, button mushrooms, roasted artichokes, and fennel, or the chicken curry with pearl onions, red peppers, and madras rice, or the braised rabbit in Riesling with spaëtzle, fava beans, and wild mushrooms.
    â€œAll served with a baby-greens-and-tomato salad with lemon, extra virgin olive oil, and century-old balsamic vinegar dressing,” he said, grinning in anticipation.
    Carella looked at Teddy.
    She looked back at him.
    â€œIsn’t there anything… simpler ?” Carella asked.
    â€œSimpler?” Buddy said.
    â€œWell…it’s just…I don’t think many of the invited guests would appreciate such a…such an ambitious menu.”
    â€œThese are , believe me,” Buddy said, “some of our very simplest selections. Virtually basic , in fact.”
    â€œWell,” Carella said, and shrugged and turned to Teddy. “Hon?” he said.
    Some of the guests will be coming from Italy , she signed.
    Carella told Buddy what her hands had just said.
    â€œSo what would

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