Peter Glazebrook is a retired Civil Servant who spends his time writing books, tending beehives and hillwalking. He has previously been published in Anthology 2020 and Horror magazine. He has been a semi finalist in the Writers of the Future competition.
Sally opened the office door and said in a stern voice, “Tom, come in here please!”
Tom started guiltily. The other kitchen assistant stifled a giggle at his discomfort. When the Executive Chef, known as the EC, was away Sally had started to examine his work closely. Any small mistake and he was called in for a dressing down. Dressing down being the operative phrase.
The first time he had been taken by surprise. He had hardly closed the door behind him before she clamped her mouth on his like a starving Lamprey and pushed her body so hard against him that he was became concerned for the state of his pelvic bones.
Now it had become a routine, albeit a furtive and slightly seedy one. Why she felt the need to conduct lovemaking during work hours was a mystery to Tom. But then he found most things women did were, at best, opaque.
After one unusually delicate encounter, which had been more caressing than animalistic passion, he felt that she had something to say. She manoeuvred round him in the narrow room to adjust her blouse in front of a mirror on the wall. As she passed she rubbed him affectionately on the rump and said, “we ought to spend more time together. I think it would be better if I came round to your place, don’t you?”
“I still live with my parents.”
“Hmm, that would be awkward wouldn’t it. Leave it to me. I’ll think of something. You’d better get back to prepping the veg and salad for tonight.”
Tom went back to his work station and wondered if any of the other staff members knew what was going on. Of course they did. No one said anything explicitly but there was an undercurrent even he could detect. The odd snide remark and conversations that ended abruptly when he entered a room.
He’d had a relatively sheltered upbringing and was not prepared for the complications that had erupted in his personal life. The trouble was that Sally was not only the head waiter but also married to the, call me EC, Executive Chef.
The pair ran a trendy bistro called the Cooked Goose where Tom worked as a kitchen assistant. They were more popularly known for their reality TV cooking show set in the restaurant. In fact, the show was filmed almost entirely in an eatery up the road that had camera friendly tall ceilings and wide aisles. The chalk and cheese nature of the banter between the loud overweight chef and his calm photogenic wife was TV gold.
The EC was tending to spend more time away as his solo career took off. He was about to film a show on Thai cuisine and would be away for three months.
Tom felt his life was spiralling out of control. He found himself in an increasingly romantic relationship with Sally whilst he desperately tried not to look shifty whenever the EC spoke to him.
Like now, Tom tried his best to look relaxed, as one would at the end of a shift, when the EC sat him down for a drink.
The EC sat on a stool next to the stainless-steel table where culinary magic was performed. Shielded lights glinted on the stainless steel, covered in a myriad of tiny scratches from a variety of sharp blades. In the silence of the closed restaurant, the work surfaces had the air of a surgical theatre. Tom tried not to think about what the EC could do with one of the razor sharp kitchen knives.
It was unnaturally quiet, normally there would be a cacophony of pans slamming down on metal work surfaces that magnified the sound like a drum whilst people shouted to make themselves heard. Even the extraction fans were silent.
The EC motioned Tom to sit next to him. Two glasses of tawny spirit sat on the table, the source being the bottle of calvados they used for flaming the tarte aux pommes. Tom gingerly positioned himself on a stool. Did the EC suspect? He must do, surely someone would have told him. The EC pushed a glass towards him and turned around to grab a bowl of leftover chocolate mousse with two spoons sticking out of it. As he did this Tom, being a suspicious individual, swopped over the glasses. The EC turned back and slurped a mouthful of pudding, following it down with a gulp of calvados.
“Drink up,” he said, plunging his spoon into the mousse for a second helping. Tom nervously emptied his glass in two gulps. The raw spirit burned his tongue, but he felt he needed it. He did not touch the dessert; the cloying sweetness would have been too much for his nervous stomach.
The EC seemed to make up his mind. There was a loud bang as he slapped his hand down and stood up. He slid his bulky form off the stool and walked unsteadily towards the room used for raw food prep. Tom worked there most of the time, surrounded by the sound of running water, the fresh cut lawn smell of salad and the stinging odour of onion and garlic. The EC ushered him into the room. Sally was slumped in a chair. Congealed blood shone shiny black under the fluorescents, so it looked like the chair was in the middle of a black lake. The metallic reek was totally unlike the usual homely smell of the room. As Tom looked at the body, he was shocked to realise that he really did care for Sally. Unfortunately, this meant he missed his chance to make a run for it as the EC shut the door.
“Sorry about this, I know it’s your domain, but I wanted somewhere quiet where we could talk,” said the EC. He had perfect diction with a slight West Country burr that made him a TV natural.
Tom felt his legs start to shake and steadied himself on a side table. He had no doubt he would be sharing Sally’s fate. The only question was how the EC would go about it.
The EC sighed, “I just wanted you to see what you’ve done. This is all your fault.”
Tom wanted to protest that she had seduced him but for some reason his throat felt constricted and he was unable to speak.
The EC continued, “I’ve used poison. It was in my drink. They’ll find my wife and me dead, with you locked in the room. I imagine the prison food will become almost acceptable after a few years. I’ve left enough clues to dispel any doubts the police might have of your guilt.” Tom started to slide to the floor. The last thing he heard as the room darkened was, “Bugger!”