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Friday, March 8, 2024

F³ Uncertainty 55

             Nikki and I sat in the private dining area of Curry Palace, waiting on our food. I had never been to this particular restaurant. My experience with Indian food was limited to lunch buffets. Curry Palace also had a lunch buffet, but Nikki insisted on dinner, and on the private area.

            “What did you discover?” she asked.

            “Lamb is better than chicken,” I said.

            She rolled her eyes. “Not about the menu. Besides, you haven’t even sampled the fare here.”

            “Yeah, but I was basing it on past experience. Lamb is always more tender and tasty. Chicken can be a mixed bag.”

            “Our dilemma, Matthew,” she prompted.

            I shrugged. “I’ve got a hunch.”

            She glared at me. “You spent two days researching and then another day talking to your expert, and the best you have is a hunch.”

            “A hunch is better than a suspicion, not as good as a fact.”

            The server came out, dropping off our curries and naan.

            She closed her eyes, then sighed, not that she needed to breathe. “Very well. What is needed to turn your hunch into a fact?”

            “We need to search the Club for some of this joss paper money.” I dipped a corner of nann into the tikka masala gravy and took a bite.

            “And what, pray tell, exactly is that?” Nikki moved with meticulous efficiency, spooning rice to her place, making a well in the center, and then ladling the curry and meat to its home. Her gravy was blood red, a fact I wouldn’t have latched onto had it not been for her presence.

            It’s tomato, not blood. You know that. Focus.

            I pulled up the article with the photos I had cued up on my phone, showing her the different varieties.

            She took the phone from me, and rapidly read.

            I attacked my curry. My gravy was more orange-ish, the red moderated by the addition of cream. Long dormant memories of curry were suddenly awakened, and I began to devour the dish.

            “Interesting. This paper is commonly available, so have you not tested it?”

            I had to finish chewing and swallow. “The hunch is that whatever turned them into jade is specific, and we need the money made specifically to get them out.”

            “And the currency we will need to search out? It will look exactly like what’s pictured.” She passed the phone back to me.

            I shook my head. “No, there would have to be differences. . . . Wait, what do you mean exactly? Have you seen something like this before?”

            She ate a delicate forkful of curry, and smiled at me. “I believe I have.”

            “You’re certain?”

            “No, but I have a hunch.”

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