Dinner is ruined, and after so much planning and preparation!
|Author’s Note: These days, news stories featuring all manner of human depravity travel at near-light-speed in order to assault us daily. Still, there are those one-out-of-a-million news stories that give even the most desensitized of us pause. The following is my attempt to dramatize one such story. If I was a master of horror, I may have tried to take the point of view of the guest. Forgive me; I wasn't prepared to stare that deeply into the abyss…
Dinner was ruined!
The enormity of the realization overwhelmed Emil Strauss, coursed over and around him like a physical force. Of all the meals to go wrong, why this one? It just wasn't fair- he’d been waiting so long for this- for tonight. It should have been perfect…everything should have been perfect!
And his guest! Great God, what would his guest think? What could anyone think of a host who promised culinary ecstasy and in its stead delivered scorched atrocity? Emil shook his head, chewed at his bottom lip. To ruin such a rare and nearly perfect cut was criminal; it was almost too much for his sensibilities to endure.
Emil removed the smoking tray from the oven, placed it almost reverently onto the kitchen counter. He scowled, examining his work more closely- but no, there was no salvaging what was left. How could he have done this? A fast-food burger jockey would have fared better.
Was he being fair to himself, though? No, he decided; not really. It wasn't as though he’d seasoned the cut improperly, after all, or overcooked it out of inexperience. The truth was that in all the excitement he’d simply forgotten to remove it from the oven at the appropriate time. Unforgivable, to be sure; but at least it could be chalked up to simple human error, and no stain on his art.
Emil sighed. Was this ever humiliating…disappointing and humiliating. He thought about what to tell his guest. Perhaps he would say that the oven had malfunctioned- or better, caught fire. His guest might believe that; he might…
But no; when he considered what his guest had sacrificed in order to be here tonight, to be a part of this celebration…it just didn't feel right to lie to the man. Emil lied all the time; believed that most other people did as well- but he decided he would tell his guest the truth. He would endure the man’s disappointment, and very likely his anger. He owed him that much, at least.
Emil sighed and shuddered. He removed his apron and donned his favorite Armani blazer; adjusted his tie. This done, he took a deep, soothing breath and made his way to the dining room. Strains of violin music danced on the air; Brahms. He passed a lavishly appointed table, where a single taper burned between two settings. A feeling of profound disappointment settled on him as he passed through the room and up the stairs to the second floor. It was all supposed to have been so perfect…
So rare it was, to meet a kindred spirit in this world; a man who could truly appreciate the art of gourmet. So few people, it seemed, took the time to truly cultivate their pallets nowadays. A sumptuous meal prepared by a skilled master, Emil knew, could be as moving an experience as attending the symphony- or making love even.
Emil found himself trembling as he reached the bathroom door at the end of the hall. He took a moment to calm himself. How had everything gone so terribly wrong? How in the world?
He drew another deep breath and exhaled; turned the knob and pushed. Squinting involuntarily against what he knew he was about to see, he stepped inside. His nostrils flared, searching out an order he felt certain should be present, but wasn’t. The bathroom smelled fresh and clean in fact; the air had a hint of pine.
The man in the tub had taken on an ashen, unnatural pallor. He turned to regard Emil with the lethargy of a man deeply drugged. It seemed to take him a moment to register his host’s presence as substantial. When he spoke his voice was slow, his speech slurred.
“I’m sorry...” Emil’s guest managed.
Emil stepped forward. “No, my friend…it is I who am sorry.”
The man in the tub looked up at his host; opened his mouth and closed it again.
“Because I've ruined it…” Emil watched for his guest’s reaction, flinched inwardly. “I’m so sorry. I've ruined it.”
The man in the tub closed his eyes, his expression otherwise unchanged. For a moment neither guest nor host spoke a word. Emil felt a lump forming in the back of his throat; his eyes stung. Finally the man in the tub spoke.
“It is okay.” was all his guest could manage.
Emil wept. He wept with gratitude; with relief. This man was a treasure, and he considered it an honor to play host to him.
His guest attempted to speak; couldn't. In the short time Emil had been standing beside the tub the man’s color had worsened. The water lapping about the gnarled and wrinkled legs of his guest was a dark-red and deepening into crimson as it accepted the man’s life.
The castration shouldn't have killed him- and certainly not this fast. Not according to all the research the two had done prior to meeting in person. There was little doubt, though, that the man was indeed bleeding to death. Something must have gone terribly wrong…
And it was all supposed to have been so perfect…
The two men would have dined together; that was to have been the heart of the affair. That was the reason Emil could feel his cock stiffening against his trousers even now, as he wept and watched his guest die.
Now, well…now he may as well resign himself to eating alone. It was all terribly depressing.
The man in the tub turned his head slightly, opened his mouth.
“Yes,” Emil said, “What is it, my friend?” He glanced quickly over his shoulder, saw the blinking red light that indicated the camcorder perched next to the sink was still recording.
“If I am still alive tomorrow,” the man said, “we will try to eat my testicles...”
J. Robert Kane
East Northport, NY