I knew he was going to be trouble.
He started in on me right after I got started. He eyed me in that suspicious way, that threatening way. He wanted a piece of me. I could tell.
Yeah, he was gonna be trouble.
I lifted the top of my offset charcoal smoker and the good scent of barbecue smoke drifted to me on the blue curls wafting from the hot embers. I maneuvered myself to the tiny platform to the right of the smoker box and tried to mentally assess the space I had available. I set the platter down, but I kept my eye on the little bugger. He wanted a chance, just one chance, and I knew it.
Well, I couldn’t be bothered with that. I had my work to do and I didn’t have a lot of patience for his kind. Better to ignore him … until I couldn’t anymore.
I shuffled and shifted things on the too-small platform and got everything balanced as well as possible. Then I set about my work.
First, the three rules: Keep it hot, keep it clean, keep it lubricated.
Sounds like a woman, doesn’t it? But no. No, women will have NONE of that nonsense from me — including my wife — so what I mean is the grill. I check the temperature the old fashioned way: with my hand. One Mississippi, two Mississippi, OUCH! Yeah, it burns my palm in two seconds. That’s hot. Next I take the grill brush and give the enamel-coated grates a couple of good, firm swipes. Crap spills off the bottom of the rungs and sizzles into the white ash-dusted glowing coals. Nice and clean, check. Finally, I —
I glance over at him. He’s trying to move, trying to shift. That filthy pig’s gonna make a run. I eye him down hard, and in a moment he freezes.
I fold a paper towel carefully to expose a long, narrow face, clasp it in the tongs in my right hand, and dip it carefully into the tiny bowl of Canola oil. I shake off the excess and swipe the bars of the grate with long, even strokes, sending tendrils of white smoke coiling into the air as the oil heats instantly. Repeat the procedure back the other way, and I’m all set. The grill’s hot, clean and lubricated. Just like a good woman. Heh. I get a self-chuckle outta that; no one else can hear me or would think that’s funny anyway.
I give him a quick glance. Bastard’s moved again! I set my jaw hard and try to marshal my patience. I reach for my gun on instinct. Then I realize, hey — I don’t own a gun.
Damn. Too bad. That might be enough to deter the bastard.
Oh well, it is what it is.
Back to work. With the grill set up, I make sure the drip pan is in place. It’s just one of those foil jobbies you use for family picnics and stuff like that, but it’s vitally important because I’ve got a huge grease spot on my concrete patio — which is a real bear to clean, and I haven’t done it yet even though it’s been a year — where the fatty run-off of some past barbecues dripped and soaked in. So I need this pan to be fluid-tight.