“The Chef will be here at seven,” I don’t really know what I’m saying. I haven’t accepted that I am even considering this idea yet. But what else can I do? I was more than willing to stand tall, do the right thing, and take a tongue lashing, a demotion, or possibly lose my job over a mistake like missing an important meat order. Manslaughter is another story. “I’ll call Jack and Nick. You get the body under the sink.”
Might as well get him over the drains. We shouldn’t cut him up in the prep sink. It seems wrong.
“Dennis? What the fuck?” Jack’s sleep-fogged voice on my cellphone. “What do you want?”
“No questions,” I say to him. There’s a grunt on the other end of the line. He knows from the sound of my voice that this is serious. “Come in. Right now. Bring a hacksaw, a hatchet, and a few bottles of bleach.”
“We don’t have bleach in the kitchen anymore?” he complains.
“The amount we’ll need to use would arouse suspicion,” that should pique his interest. “Get your ass in here. Now. And call Nick, convince him to come.” I’m not about to waste time trying to talk that idiot into anything. Jack will know what to say.
Shockingly, Nick arrives first. “Jack’s picking up some stuff,” he yawns, wandering around the kitchen a little. “What’s goin’ on anyway? Is there coffee? I could use a coffee.”
I gesture to the corpse underneath the sink.
Nick stares at it for a long time.
“Fuck the coffee,” he heads into the dining room, toward the bar. “I’m taking a bottle of bourbon right now. And if anyone says anything you fuckin’ well better cover for me.”
It’s a fair deal.
By the time Jack shows up, Nick is already a little drunk and weepy.
“We were just talkin’ last night,” he sniffs, wiping his nose with the back of his hand. “He was standin’ right there,” he points, “when I asked him about the- the- potthe potat- oooooooh fuck…”
“What the hell,” Jack is totally bewildered, “is wrong with him?”
Then he sees Ted.
For a moment, Jack is quiet.
“Hacksaw, hatchet, bleach,” he turns to me and raise an eyebrow. “What are we doing here exactly?”
“I fucked up the meat order,” I say, stiffly. “I fell asleep. Ted came in and found out. I dunno…”
Nick’s eyes are wide with horror.
Jack looks stunned, but calm.
“It was an accident,” I finish, lamely. “The floor was wet. I shoved him and he slipped.”
“Oh my God,” says Nick.
“So we’ve got to get rid of the body?” Jack seems to cough. He will tell me later that he was trying not to laugh.
“Well,” I have not been looking forward to explaining this aspect of the plan. “Not exactly. Like I said, I fucked up the meat order…”
Nick’s jaw hangs, slackly, from his skull. I am worried for a moment. I look at Jack. Jack’s eyes are shining like twin stars.
“This,” he declares, voice cracking with emotion. “Is the most awesome day of my entire fucking life,” he tosses me the hatchet and grabs the hacksaw.
Long story short?
We tell the Chef that Ted has called in sick. He lets me prepare the meat for his special. Bandula is in heaven. Jack can’t stop grinning. Nick is a little freaked out, but everyone else is going along with it, so he does too. I’ve barely slept, but inspiration struck and I hit a home run.
Remember when I said that no reviewer worth their salt would waste time on that place? It turned out I was wrong. The reason the Chef wanted a special meat order was that he had received a tip that someone from a national newspaper, which shall remain nameless, is coming in tonight.
The reviewer is blown away. With that glowing write up, I begin to establish my reputation as a heavy-hitter in the culinary world. When Ted misses work again the next day, I cover his shift. After the third day, he’s fired.
We hear all kinds of stories. Peter thinks that he was killed over a drug debt. Amanda heard that he left his wife and went to Mexico. Juan has it, from Tom at the Centurion, that Ted had been arrested for arson. Ruggario suspects that he got an offered a position at that kitchen his friend owned in New York, the one he was always talking about, and took it right away. The Chef privately informs me that Ted just went on a bender and was too ashamed to show his face. We don’t contribute to the rumor and speculation. If anybody were paying attention, that would seem very strange. Luckily for us, Bandula was right. Beyond idle curiosity about the day supervisor’s fate, nobody really cares.
“For all his talk,” the Chef says with an air of condemnation, “he never really contributed anything to this restaurant, or to this kitchen, or to anybody else, as far as I can tell.”
I playfully consider mentioning the career-launching review of our innovative new special, which appeared in that national newspaper, but don’t say anything.
When I take over as Chef, I keep my team with me. I have to. Who else can I trust? When I start a company, –producing a line of steak spices and marinating sauces, complete with an online course and my own cookbook — they are my primary shareholders. When I finally get over my distaste for the idea, say to hell with it, and take a show on the Food Network, they are all on the production team. It’s not just that I don’t want them to go to the cops. I like having them around.
With their help, I learned something about myself. I looked at the choice before me and decided that, whether it was the right thing to do or not, there was no way I was bending over for the burning cock of failure.
There was one thing I never told Jack, Nick, or Bandula, because none of them would try the special that I came up with. To them, we were putting one over on the customers; serving human waste disguised as cuisine. I didn’t see it like that. I wanted to be honest about one thing, at least. I wanted the food to be good. I had to know. So I tried it.
Sometimes you take a step, and it seems like a little step at the time, but once you take it you realize you can never, ever step back. On my first day, the Chef asked me a question. He was gauging me. I didn’t realize at the time exactly what he was trying to figure out, but I’ve lived a little and I know a few things that I didn’t back then. The Chef asked me, if I were stranded in the wilderness due to a plane crash, how long it would be before I would eat another human being. I answered without hesitation because I assumed I had understood the question, but I hadn’t. I thought the question was about survival. I know better now. If somebody asked me that question today, they wouldn’t get the same answer.
By Ryan Adam Murray
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