Days and weeks brought little more information, but they did bring Griton back to Zarinah’s. He came with two more of his former fellow regime members, and their guards, a Dr. Taryn and one Kristo Miel, the then military advisor Mulaar. Both had been responsible for the countless murders of innocents by war and starvation and both were filthy rich and revolting individuals sat in my restaurant. It was a mix of both hatred and happiness at having them in my presence. Of course by then I had pledged myself to taking revenge for the people of the island and, in part, for my family, but that didn’t mean that I wouldn’t have delighted if one of them dropped down dead of a heart attack or a stroke right before my eyes.
Again none of them acknowledged me as I welcomed them. And again I ran through my speech while my guests all pretended to not be enthralled. But it wasn’t a half hour from when they enters Zarinah’s to when they slipped under the pleasure of the first dish, crispy dry fried slices of peppered bacon. The slices were unsalted so the pig and the pepper ruled the senses. I had tasted it myself days beforehand and knew that the succulent yet sharp flavours and blissful clam of the animal and the silence of the plant all melded into a very specific experience that wasn’t drastic but was certain. All present fell into themselves and ignored their surroundings and fellow diners as I again resisted the urge to slaughter them with a kitchen utensil. Luke hid in the kitchen and I didn’t hold it against him. I would have if I had been able to. After a few moments of enduring the guests’ repugnance they returned and praised my skill. I of course thanked them and fawned over them, dying inside. I rushed them and brought a plate of pigeons on a bed of boiled nettles, then to finish I brought a cheesecake that had been set in a dish carved from volcanic rock from across the island. The minerals of the rock seeped into the cake but left no taste or grit, the bowl having been polished down to a smooth inner lining.
It worked better than I had expected. Neither Luke nor myself had tasted the Volcanic Bowl Cake before we served it to our guests that night so we had little idea of what they were experiencing. From their reaction though they seem to have slipped into a coma-like state that rendered them motionless in their chairs.
I flushed with joy at the sight of them, then a sudden worry smothered me as I realised that if they were to die then Luke and I would have failed in our efforts to get to all the former regime member. Nothing less that total success was acceptable. We owed it to the people of the island and to our own lost kin, they were one the same to us. And so I took a chance and rummaged in Griton’s pockets while he lay slumped in his chair. Then Miel’s, but just as I was about to reach for Dr. Taryn’s coat the guests all began to stir. I jumped back but I still think that one of the guards saw me. He was so sluggish though that he didn’t seem to be aware of my transgression. All of them sat up from their temporary slumber and straightened themselves with an air guilt and an obvious hope that their looseness hadn’t been noticed by the others. A few seconds later Griton began applauding and the room filled with a confused delirium of appreciation. Again the second serum was given and received and once more I rushed them from the restaurant, but not before offering our services as private banquet chefs. None of the officials even looked at me, but one of the escorts handed me a card and then turned just as blasé as the rest of the group and let the door swing back in my face as I walked them to the out.
Once they left I turned and walked back in to the see Luke standing there, arms folded across his chest and a grimace worthy of an rabid tiger. I stopped dead and let myself absorb what his stance was saying. Though a kind soul, once Luke had set himself to something he was impatient with any lost opportunities, almost to the point of anger. I knew that he understood the reasons why we didn’t kill our guests that night, but I also knew that he needed to vent his frustration, so I let him shout and wave his arms and blame me.
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey