I. Three months after the opening of La Ratatouille…
Emile used light green garnishes - as most everyone did at his brother's restaurant - to do food traffic control duty. It was nearly closing time and the large brown rat had resignedly settled into his demotion. But that was all right, he was used to this. In fact, he sometimes he looked forward to Remi's casting him off of the main production line of 'Special Order' cuisine. Food traffic control meant he got to be closer to his favorite food - the fruit vault.
"Try not to drop those grapes!" His close friend Leonard called out as he used his own set of garnishes to motion a large crate of rejected grapes out. "They're Catawba. You know, one of those flavorless types. If its not from a liquidated cheese factory that we get useless shipments from, it's from a low - income tavern. Looks like the economy's hittin' us too."
"Uh, uh, Lenny." Emile beseeched to him quickly.
"Not now, E," the slim but short gray rat told him, eyeing the rat - carried crate intently.
"You said that's, uh, Catawba right?"
Leonard eyed him suspiciously. "Yeah. Nastiest stuff I ever tasted."
"Well," Emile laughed nervously, grimacing as his friends climbed up a pile of over turned boxes and emptied the grapes into a waste disposal container beside three recycle bins. "I was just thinking, you know… Catawba is an acquired taste and well, I have acquired…"
The rat suddenly laughed out loud; quickly garnering the attention of his fellow rats.
"Hey, guys, guess what! Emile wants us to give him the Catawba!"
They all paused from their respective food prepping, turned to look at one another briefly and busted out into laughter. The brown rat chuckled along half - heartedly as Leonard let him have a sympathetic pat on the back. "Like we don't know what happens Emile. Heh."
"But, I - ,"
"Just keep your shift goin' and try not to think about food too much. In case Remi…"
He let his sentence trail as he went to work guiding out the next crate of throwaway food that would not and would never be considered good enough to be served at Chief Remi's La Ratatouille. Emile sighed a quietest of sighs and was about to return to his devotional demotion of keeping foot traffic at an operational pace when he noticed a reddish - purple grape rolling towards a slight opening in the back door. 'Catawba,' He thought horridly.
To be continued…