Finish That Thought 2-7


Two vials lay before me, the fate of dinner in my hands. It wasn’t that the stew was bad, but it sure wasn’t special. And it needed to be special, what with my fiancée’s boss coming over for dinner. I was so lost in thought that I didn’t know that Callie had entered the kitchen until I felt her wrap her arms around me and kiss the back of my neck.

“She’s going to love it.” I just grunted and continued staring at the vials. Of course she’d say that, it was her job in times like this to keep me from flying off the wall. Callie stepped back, grabbing my arm, using the leverage to turn me around. “Okay, what’s the problem? Does it need salt?”

I shook my head. “No. You know I’ve got a sixth sense for that kind of thing.”

“Oregano? Thyme? Fresh parsley? No? What is it, then?”

Tears came to my eyes. “I don’t know if I can do this, Callie.”

“Oh, Mark. I know you can.” She wiped a tear from my cheek and kissed away the salt. “We’ve been planning this for so long, and we can only make it work together. You’re my guy.”

I swallowed and closed my eyes. This time when Callie spoke, there was a hint of steel in her voice. “Don’t go soft on me now, Mark. My whole career is going to be affected by how this evening goes. If you couldn’t handle this, you should have told me a lot sooner. It’s way too late to back out now. Buddy, if I could dig a grave without cracking a nail, you can finish this meal. You’re not getting squeamish and thinking of doing anything stupid, I assume.”

“No, sweetie, that’s not it. I’ve just never intentionally killed anyone with my cooking before.”

“So? Why does it matter if it’s a bullet or a stew?”

This time it was my turn to hone the edge in my voice. “Because it does. Because I’m not a marksman, or a trained sniper. I am, however, a James Beard award winning chef.”

“Are you worried that she won’t like it? She’ll be dead. Who cares?”

“I care. I want her last thought to be ‘I’m going to die, but this was the best food I’ve ever eaten.’”

Callie stepped back and smiled. “I do love you, you know.”

“I know.”

“So, how can I help?”

“Here’s the thing. I know how every herb, every condiment, every spice tastes. I know how to weave them together to create masterpieces. But I just don’t know what arsenic or strychnine tastes like, and I can’t decide which one would really complement the other flavors.”


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