Meal gone wrong

Submitted into Contest #100 in response to: Write a story where a meal or dinner goes horribly wrong.... view prompt

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Fiction

Allen was looking at his watch as he left out of the building. He didn’t want to be late for his next appointment. That was the scheme of Allen’s whole life, planned down to the second. Every since he got out of high school and got into a prestigious college, he has been a stickler for detail. It is time management, precision in everything that is his key to success. He practices it in his daily routine right down to a bathroom break. Now he has to be on time to keep up with his schedule. So he is out of the building and to the Taxi stand, not watching where he is going or minding who is around him. In the opposite direction but headed to the same destination is a non descript young woman in a long dress with sandals carrying three shopping bags with her tied up in a bun and a shawl around her shoulders. Little does Allen know that his world is about to be turned upside down by his precise planning.

   Allen and the woman converge at the Taxi stand at precisely the same moment. One is in a hurry and the other is in no particular hurry at all. The driver sees the woman first and tips his hat; Allen grabs the man by the arm and pulls him around towards him. He says I need to get somewhere so get in and let’s go. The driver looks at him and says the lady was here first, another cab will pull in as soon as I leave. Not being satisfied with the answer, he says to the cab driver, look I will give you an extra 10 dollars is we can go now. He considers it and looks back at the young woman, she just smiles and ask Allen where are you going in such a hurry, he tells her that he has a meeting at the corner of 18th street and Saint Perry Blvd in 45 minuets, the woman smiles and says that they can share the cab, that her stop is on the way. Allen says I don’t have time for this; he bumps her slightly pushing past the driver and hops into the cab. The driver looks at her with a sad look but she smiles at him and says it is okay. He tips his hat to her and is on his way. As the cab leaves, Allen settles in. The nerve of some people he thinks, always getting in the way of people who actually have something to do. The cabbie just looks forward trying not to pay too much attention to the guy in back. As the cab pulled out of the parking space at the stand, the woman with an indifferent look reaches in her pocket and pulls out a small bottle, she pulls out the stopper and waits for the wind to shift. She then tosses the content into the air and lets it drift after the Taxi. With a smile, she nods her head and speaks softly under her breath. The next cab pulls up and the driver gets out and helps her with her groceries. She gets in and gives him the address of her destination, she then settles back and giggles. The cab driver ask why she is so happy, she simply says that someone is about to learn some manners.

   Allen gets to his destination and pays the driver. He gives the man the fare but stiffs him for the extra 10 dollars he offered. The Cab driver just pulls off in a huff. Allen hurries up the stairs and into the elevator. He arrives at his next meeting, which goes flawlessly. The man he is meeting with is so impressed that he invites Allen to dinner at an exclusive restaurant just down the block. Allen is so beside himself with excitement that he can barley contain himself when he accepts. The client says that the dinner is tomorrow night promptly at 8 pm. Allen says he will be there on time. As he leaves the man’s office, he takes out his phone and puts in the address and the time. He then calls the cleaners to make sure they can take his suit and have it ready by tomorrow. They say no problem as he is one of their best customers. So Allen walks out of the building with his head held high, not knowing that he is about to have the most expensive meal of his life, in ways he can’t even begin to imagine.

   While Allen was in his meeting, the woman he had been so rude too arrives at her destination. She gets out of the cab and pays the man the fare plus an extra ten dollars for being so helpful. He thanks her kindly and helps her with her bags. As the driver pulls away, the woman walks into an alley and down to a side door. Cameras are facing the alley so people can be seen from both directions. When she approaches, the door buzzes and opens to let her into the back of the Garden market restaurant, one of the most desirable restaurants in the city. She enters and puts her bags down on the counter. A man in a cook’s uniform approaches and asks how your trip was. She just giggles and says quite uneventful, even though a certain man was on her mind. The cook takes the bags and walks off with them. She goes into her office and closes the door. She hangs up her shawl and takes off her dress and sandals. She puts on her uniform and tall white hat. She slips on her other shoes and lights a few candles as she prepares to go into the kitchen. Her office is decorated with candles, small stones and a bronze cup in which she puts dried flowers and incense. She smiles as she leaves the office. The woman walks out and the man who took her bags says good day Chef.

   Allen gets home to his apartment with his suit fully pressed for the dinner he has been invited to the next evening. He cannot wait to impress his new client. He goes through his daily routine and prepares for bed. He must get a good night sleep in order to be ready for tomorrow. As Allen checks his alarm, he feels a bit uneasy, but doesn’t give it a second thought. He climbs into his bed with Egyptian cotton sheets crisp and cool as always. He turns off the light and drifts off to sleep. He sleeps all night but in fits and starts. He can’t seem to stop tossing and turning. He finally wakes up at 6 am but has not rested at all. He wonders why he didn’t sleep well, but just ignores it. He gets up and starts his well thought out daily routine, tired though he is, he won’t let it ruin his day.

   The Market Garden restaurant was alive with laughter and fine dining until 11 pm, the kitchen closed up as the last guest left. The staff put away the leftovers which would be dealt with the following morning. The Chef, thanks the kitchen staff for their hard work and sees them all out, she then welcomes in the nightly cleaning crew to do their sanitation work. She goes to her office and takes off her uniform and hangs her hat on a hook. She changes back into her other clothes and comes out. The cleaning staff scantly notices her as this is her routine. She has her uniform in a laundry bag, she hands it off to one of the cleaners who will drop it off to be laundered. She has all of her uniforms numbered and collects them at the first of every week from the cleaners. As she leaves the restaurant behind, she looks up at the clear sky and lets the cool night wind blow over her. She reaches into her pocket again and takes out the bottle she had opened earlier in the day; she sticks her finger into the wind then tosses some of the bottles content into the air. Again as she did the first time, she giggles and goes on her way, into the night she disappears as the wind carries her potion away.

   Allen doesn’t feel well at all, not in the way of sickness, but in a sort of uneasy feeing. He can’t quiet put his finger on it but all day something has been bugging him. It is like a foreboding in the pit of his stomach. He just dismisses it as something he ate. He has been anxious since the meeting the other day where he is sure he impressed his newest client. He keeps looking at his watch, he is looking forward to dinner this evening at the Market Garden, people wait a month or more to get reservations at this restaurant, and now the new client has invited him to dinner there. He took off early today in order to pick up his suit and make sure he was dressed to impress. From his tailored shirt to his cuff links, he looks in the mirror and can’t get over himself. The hour is approaching and he calls for a cab to meet him down stairs. The taxi arrives and he gets in, he gives the driver the destination and he is on his way.

   The kitchen at the Market Garden is buzzing with activity, the staff is busy filling orders and the Chef is working at her station next to her other cooks. The operation seems like organized chaos, but everyone knows their duties and the Chef is well versed in her craft, just as she is well versed in witch craft. As a practitioner of White Magic, she knows about spells, potions and people. While she would never do any person permanent harm, sometimes a person needs to be taken down a peg or two to give them back perspective. She is all smiles as she busily works on her vegetarian soup while preparing fresh cut vegetables for the famous salads that the restaurant serves. She knows that it is Friday night and that special guest are coming, one special guest in particular. A very rude young man who will truly enjoy his dining experience!

   Allen arrives at the restaurant 10 minuets to 8, early is a plus for him. He gives the driver a one dollar tip to which the driver smiles curtly. Out of the Cab he goes, to the front door. At the door, the client is there waiting with his wife and two other dinner guests. All are well dressed but in more casual attire, but Allen doesn’t pay it a second thought. He came here to enjoy a great meal and further impress his client and the client’s friend. At the hostess comes to the front, she takes the party in and seats them towards the front of the restaurant so that they have an excellent view of the street which is right across from a old square that is used in the summer as a market for people to sell their wares. It joins up to a small botanical garden, allowing a view of people enjoying a natural setting in an urban environment. Allen could care less about the view; he is more interested in the food. His stomach is still uneasy and he wants something to eat to settle it.

   In the kitchen, the Chef gets a warm feeling in her toes. She knows from the tingle, that her special guest has arrived. She looks out into the dining area and she calls over the waiter and tells him that the man in sitting with his back to the kitchen in the nice suit is a special guest. He is to be given the best treatment and offered the finest of the restaurants fare.  As per instructions the waiter goes out to the table and introduces himself. He hones in on Allen and compliments him on his appearance. Allen begins to feel better as his ego is being massaged. The waiter asks what everyone would like to drink. They place their orders and Allen asks for water to start. The waiter then recommends the soup of the day to begin if everyone is interested. It is a magnificent vegetarian dish. Not to be one to seem ungrateful, Allen decides to take a bowl. Everyone else elects for a salad. The cook returns to the kitchen with the orders and so begins the dining experience Allen will never forget.

   It doesn’t take long for the food to begin coming out. Four salads and one soup to the table at the front. Allen looks at the bowl in front of him and the aroma of the dish seems pleasant enough. He places his napkin on his lap and waits for his client to indulge in the salad first. It would be rude of him to begin before his host. As Allen begins to ingest his soup, his stomach begins to settle and he realizes that he has been upset over nothing. His foreboding was nothing but nerves. The soup is actually quiet good and he asks the waiter if he can have a second bowl. The waiter says that if he desires but would he rather not wait for the main course. Allen then thinks better and asks for another drink. He chooses a fine red wine and has the bottle brought to the table. As he is waiting for the wine to be poured, the waiter asks what he would like for his main course. Feeling much more confident about himself, he sees that chicken curry is featured on the menu. He decides to order a dinner portion with a side of steamed vegetables. The waiter commends him on his excellent choice and proceeds to the kitchen with the orders from Allen and the other diners. As Allen is sitting listening to the client and his friends talk, Allen notices that the wife of his client is dressed in a fine linen pant suit. He leans over and complements her on her choice of clothing. With a warm smile, she thanks him. This makes Allen’s ego swell that much more as he thinks yes, score points with the wife. As he enjoys his wine, Allen suddenly begins to feel a little uneasy again, his stomach is grumbling, but he simply ignores it and hopes it will pass. Meanwhile in the kitchen an interested observer looks on through the window as she prepares the main course for the table.

   The food comes out in what seems like no time. Allen gets his Curry and waits for the rest of the diners to begin eating. As he begins to enjoy his meal, he suddenly feels another uneasy churning in his stomach. He begins to feel tightness in his gut and his insides feel like they are being tied in knots. All of a sudden, he winces and silently but in a gush of relief, he passes gas for several seconds. Then in a sudden look of horror, the clients and his wife begin to cough and gag. Realizing what has happened, Allen is so embarrassed that he tries to get up quickly, and in doing so catches his cuff link on the wine basket tilting the bottle of red wine over into the lap of the client’s wife. Complete mortified, Allen grabs the bottle but it slips out of his hand as he doubles over in pain again, this time his relief is not quiet, but thunderous in the direction of the waiter and another table of guest. As he is trying to recover himself, Allen doesn’t notice that he has thrown wine across the table onto the client’s guest. He simply runs away from the table, tipping over chairs and bumping into the wait staff trying to get to the bathroom. For nearly a half an hour he sits in shame and horror as his body expels noxious gases and hat ever else might be living in his bowels. Finally, he gets up the courage to leave the bathroom with his dignity or what is left of it in tact. As he exit’s the restroom, he feels several sets of eyes on him. He is embarrassed beyond belief and just wants to get out of here. As he heads for the door, the hostess approaches him. She looks at him for a moment and says that his party left abruptly about 20 minuets ago and she hands him the bill. He looks at the check and didn’t realize that it would be nearly 800 dollars. He asks why so much, the woman retorts something about damage to the chairs, cleaning cost, but he just wants to be gone. He gives her his credit card and signs the check leaving out the front of the restaurant. As Allen stands outside, a sudden summer shower hits, soaking him to the bone. While in the back of the restaurant, the Chef continues on with her work, smiling gleefully. Hoping that Allen has learned his lesson, do not be in a hurry, consider other peoples feelings and never piss off a witch! 

July 02, 2021 19:00

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