Chapter 17

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“You mean, how did I learn to cook?”

“No,” said Marie, “though your food is wonderful, I imagine that you are a different man now than you were as a Legionnaire.”

“That is probably true.”

“So how does that happen?”

Cameron handed Marie the last plate to dry and pulled the stopper from the sink to let the water drain.  Cameron then picked up a towel he had left sitting on the counter and began to dry his hands.  “How does that happen,” said Cameron, “I have Claude to thank I guess.”

“He taught you to cook?” asked Marie.  She set down the last plate, now dry, and hung the towel she had been using.

“Yes, but more than that.”  Cameron opened the door to Pepe’s wine cave and grabbed the neck of a bottle near the door.  “He did teach me to cook, but he also taught me balance.”  He held the bottle up to the light and then reached for the corkscrew.

“Balance is important.  To be sure,” said Marie.

“Yeah, well, it started simply enough.”  Cameron plunged the corkscrew into the bottle, “The rations we had in the Legion left a bit to be desired.  They’ve gotten better over the last few years, but early in my hitch, they were far more lacking.”  Cameron uncorked the bottle and poured the dark wine into two clean glasses.  “Claude is an elder Legionnaire, les Anciens as we say.”  He offered a glass to Marie, “I guess now I am too.  Regardless, Claude served in the French Far East expeditionary corps, way back.”  Cameron leaned back on the counter, “Then, the ration kits were composed of German and American stocks, as well as local food.  Claude and the other les Anciens all told me how good us young fellas had it.”  Marie too leaned against the counter.  Cameron held up his arm gestured toward the main room and the large sofa.  “Claude told me that the Legionnaires occupied their time fighting the Viet Minh purely so that they wouldn’t focus on their own cooks.”  Marie smiled at Cameron’s jest and sat on the sofa.  He sat next to her.  The fire crackled in the hearth and cast amber light into the room.  The moon had moved across the sky and now shown through a different set of windows.

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