Funny Romance Sad

The rear of the kitchen was an after-thought, but then this was a universal truth. Eateries were like overturned cars, the shiny side welcomed the diners in and they enjoyed their time in the plush cabin. The dirty underbelly was not for them. This place was where all the leftovers and rubbish spilled out after a busy service.

Kayleigh lit her cigarette, the sulphurous match staving off some of the stench of the ripe garbage. She was late to her break, prep taking precedence over her rest. Absently, she opened her phone and flicked and scrolled. Staring into the screen and taking regular pulls on her other bad habit.


Kurt had just stepped out, drying his wet hands on the arse of his trousers. Kayleigh had once asked him why he did that. He told her the towels were dirty. Some people created their own logic and lived by rules that would only ever make sense to them, if they made any sense at all.

“What?” he asked in a half bothered manner. 

Kayleigh’s face was a picture. A picture that had been washed out and then faded in direct sunlight over several Summers, but Kurt put little store by her reaction to whatever was on her phone. His desensitisation to his fellow human’s plight was not unique. Reacting to online content was a way of life these days and it was best to leave well alone. He liked Kayleigh though, she was OK. She was one of the few he’d talk to on his break. She didn’t treat him like dirt, she didn’t assume he was something he was not.

“Frazer isn’t going to like this!” she hissed the words then handed her phone to Kurt.

The screen was filled with a review and the review was entitled The Worst Meal I Have Ever Tasted.

“Shit!” echoed Kurt, “Frazer is going to go ballistic!”

This was an understatement. Frazer’s natural state was explosive. He wasn’t one to lose his temper because it was ever present. Frazer was an active volcano of a man and this review was aviation fuel pouring on a chip pan fire. 

Kurt looked up from the phone and exchanged a look with Kayleigh, “oh no you don’t!” he said to her.

“What?” she said in a less than innocent manner.

But they both knew. This was a game of tick and now Kayleigh had passed the incendiary review on to Kurt it was his to act upon, preferably before it went off in his hands. Kurt wasn’t a mug though and he valued his life more highly than that. He wasn’t going to offer himself up for Frazer’s target practice. He’d served his time and those days were mostly long gone. The occasional friendly fire incident coming with the territory.

Nonetheless, he looked the review over. Knowledge was power after all, and being oblivious of this incoming missile was marginally worse than knowing it was on its way, “who the hell wrote this?” he asked Kayleigh.

She shrugged, “haven’t a clue.”

Kurt sighed, handing the phone back to Kayleigh, “come on,” he said.

Kayleigh followed Kurt inside, but not after taking one long, medicinal pull on the last of her cigarette.

“Daniel,” Kurt beckoned the man over in a conspiratorial way that made Kayleigh wince. Anyone seeing Kurt right now would gravitate to what very obviously was gossip, but quite likely trouble.

“What is it?” asked Daniel.

“We’ve had a review,” Kurt told him.

“So?” said Daniel, a little slow on the uptake, “we have reviews all of the time.”

“Not like this,” Kurt said grimly.

Kayleigh did the honours, handing her phone to Daniel.

“Shit!” said Daniel, “does Frazer know?”

“What do you think?” said Kurt.

Daniel nodded. If Frazer knew then everyone would know about it. He rubbed at his chin. He did this when he was thinking. He did it at tables when asked a question about a wine or received a request for any sort of advice or recommendations. For some this gesture would not work, but it added to Daniel’s mystique. Kurt wondered whether he’d spent time in the mirror perfecting his act, it was a little too good to be natural, but managed not to be contrived.

Kurt gave him a little while longer, then asked him the question he’d come to ask, “who was it that left the review?”

Daniel shook his head, “no one obvious.”

“So everyone was happy last night?” asked Kayleigh.

Daniel smiled dryly, “darling, it’s my job to make everyone happy. You make the food and I work my magic.”

“Then who?” asked Kurt.

“What’s this?” said a familiar voice from over Kurt’s shoulder, “you lot look like you’re up to no good. Don’t tell me you’re forming a bloody union!?”

Everyone froze, creating the guiltiest of tableaus.

“Bloody hell!” said Frazer, “I was only joking!” the volume of his voice dropped and softened, “has someone died, guys?”

“In a way,” Daniel said. “We have a problem, Peter.” 

Daniel put an arm around the big chef and guided him to the office where there was a laptop. He swiftly typed in the website and brought up the review. Kurt and Kayleigh stood in the doorway and watched as their boss saw the offending hatchet piece.

Frazer growled. He actually growled at the screen. But not a word was spoken. The trio looked on as Peter Frazer consumed every last morsel of the review. At the outset his mouth was set and he leaned over the screen threateningly. But as his eyes scanned over the comprehensive mauling, he pulled out the chair and sat at the desk. By the end, he was cupping his face in his hands, shoulders slumped. Smaller somehow. The three bystanders were deeply uncomfortable with this show of grief. They’d witnessed a terrible transformation and they understood that something huge was occurring, but they did not know what it was they were party to and their ignorance somehow shamed them.

Eventually Frazer spoke, “why didn’t you tell me she was here last night?” his voice was quiet, but it thrummed with a volatile and dangerous anger.

“Kate?” Daniel said defensively, “but Kate wasn’t… oh…” 

Daniel’s face paled and he looked to be shaking as a dread comprehension washed over him. The events of the previous evening replayed themselves and now he saw. He saw in retrospect what had been hidden from him at the time.

Kayleigh and Kurt stood silently by. They dared not speak, for to do so might make them a target for the fury very visibly simmering within Frazer. A barely contained fury the likes of which they had never before seen. He was positively glowing.

Daniel was shaking his head, “But I don’t understand,” he said, “she was a man!

Frazer let out a strange, strangled laugh, “she’s a bloody actress, mate!”

“But she…” Daniel began, “I didn’t think…”

Frazer was shaking his head, “was she with anyone?”

Daniel for once was lost for words, his mouth working up and down like a goldfish.

“The review says we,” said Frazer, his voice continuing to convey pending danger to all those present.

Daniel nodded, “there was two of them. Both men.”

Frazer blew out a breath and slumped further. He managed to look piteous and yet still highly flammable, “well that’s that, then.” He said those words with an awful finality. Then, to draw a line under them. He found it within himself to rise to his feet. The three watched him walk out of Infused, his award winning restaurant, his life, what he referred to as his child. The place he’d lived and breathed life into his passion.  

Food was everything to Peter Frazer and here he had transformed that food into something otherworldly, yet he walked away and never came back to this mecca for foodies; Infused.


The previous evening, Kate Lavender, the darling of Hollywood and partner to the most celebrated chef of the moment, had visited Infused for the very first time. Kate had an agreement with Peter that she breached once and once only and she did so that very night and right under his nose.

Co-opting Barry, the make-up artist - or artiste as he liked to refer to himself as – on her latest blockbuster film, she became an urbane man called Karl Valender for the evening and she brought along a friend for the ride. A special friend. A friend destined to be the father of her two children. He wouldn’t last the course much beyond siring her children, but then it was not an auspicious commencement to their union, being present as she took her revenge upon her current partner. 

Kate was persuasive, even before her star had ascended and her power had grown to almost limitless levels. Those drawn to the gravity of her star seldom lasted long. Few were strong enough to do so and so Kate missed out on what she truly craved. She missed out on what she needed.

Peter Frazer had been strong enough. Kate had thought him too strong and in the end, she turned against him and that strength of his. It could have been different. It should have been different. Matters of the heart always can be. However, if only are the words that haunt those who recklessly break their own hearts in ill thought out acts that destroy that which they were charged with nurturing and protecting.

The agreement that Kate and Peter had in place was relatively simple and that was because Peter had wanted to keep things simple. As soon as they met it was obvious to Peter that they had an attraction that was going to inevitably draw them into the madness of a love affair the likes of which no one is ever prepared for, and no one ever survives intact. Peter wanted to keep their lives, or rather their livelihoods separate. He wanted boundaries and to avoid an unholy mess. He saw something incredibly special in Kate and he wanted their relationship to work. He thought he could make it work. After all, he was a whizz with ingredients and bringing them together in just the right ways, and so he would not visit Kate on set and she would not visit Infused.Simple boundaries, so that when they were together, they were just plain old Kate and Peter. They could be themselves and share each other in the way all blissfully happy couples do.

Peter had had noble intentions when it came to Kate and their relationship, and she had both understood and appreciated this from the off. They met when both of them had made a name for themselves, but those names were not yet ten feet tall and pulsing with a vivid array of lights. That sort of fame and recognition was a madness all of its own and trying to pretend it wasn’t there was folly.

Folly or not, the relationship lasted for eight happy years. Kate was Peter’s oasis of calm and Peter was Kate’s rock. They were good for each other. Some would say that they were made for each other. 

But in the end, Kate wanted more.

Peter referred to Infused as his baby and his child. He had come from nothing, he had made Infused from nothing and he’d given everything to create a dining experience unlike anything anyone had experienced before. Kate knew this and admired him for it. If she was honest, it also helped that she was with one of the most gifted and talented men of his generation.

Kate wanted children though. She wanted children from a man who already had a child and was totally devoted to that child. And so she did that thing that so many of us do. She didn’t say anything. Instead she brooded silently and she suffered in that silence. She focused on her suffering as it grew within her in the place of the child she dearly wanted with Peter. 

All the while, she smiled sweetly and carried on with the pretence of a relationship she knew could not last. She would not allow it. She could not allow someone to control her to such an extent that she did not get what she dearly wanted.

If only…

If only Kate had told Peter what it was that she wanted. After all, the arrangement they had was not set in stone, and they loved each other to bits. Where was the harm in at least talking to Peter? At least then, she would know for sure.

But she never did.

That night, as she visited Infused for the first and only time, disguised as her alter ego Karl, she had an epiphany of sorts. She saw Peter in a whole new light. His food was art and he was nothing short of a genius. As she sampled each of the courses, she was transported to worlds she had not known existed and she so very nearly relented. There was a whole other side to Peter that she had not truly appreciated. He was a giant of a man. This gift of his frightened her.

From her fear of the man she loved, jealousy and ambition erupted within her and blighted that pure moment. That and a blind rage bourn on the wings of her perceived and manufactured suffering. This man would seek to eclipse and stifle her. This man had very nearly deprived her of the children she so dearly wanted.

The sublime dessert curdled in her mouth and everything she had consumed sickened her. She was reviled and nauseated because Peter Frazer had made this food and she had made of him poison. 

From there, there was no going back. She had to destroy his image and burn it all down. There could be nothing left of what they had, such was her fear of what it may do to her should any of it continue to exist. She needed to step out from under his shadow in order to live and breathe again.

Suddenly, she understood that her love for Peter had always frightened her, but now it terrified her.

Only Peter would ever understand the zero rated review she had written for him. They had shared a language of love and she used that language to end everything. That review was a goodbye and it was much more than that. It was a flame that would never cease to burn. She wanted Peter to feel her pain and in his hurt, to understand the mistake he’d made and what he had lost as a result.

From that day forth, Kate continued to live in the limelight, but the light from her star was never the same and each day it dimmed a little more, and as it did, her addiction to fame grew. Never once did she admit to herself that she wanted Peter to see that she’d never stopped loving him, but instead of relenting, every day of her life was an act of tragic and petty revenge.

Of Peter, there was no sign. He never remerged to take his place at the forefront of culinary magic. His genius became the stuff of legends. Many attempted to take the vacated throne, but none ever succeeded. 

The magnanimous challengers conceded that once in a lifetime there was someone who set the sky ablaze. They also knew there was a high cost for burning so brightly and that Peter had paid the price for his genius.

The man had seemingly disappeared after a single, zero-rated review. The bubble of his ego burst by unwarranted and cruel words from a keyboard warrior intent on nothing more than taking a pop at the best of them and wanting to land the most cowardly and fatal of blows. That was the sort of treachery all those who put themselves out in the world feared.

If only they knew the truth of it.

Betrayed by the one person he’d trusted and loved beyond measure, Kate had cut so deeply that she’d cut his heart in two. There was no coming back from that review. Peter was forever exiled from the world of fame and celebrity. He knew that to stand and fight would only make everything worse and he could not do that to her.

So he started over again. 

In time, his wounds healed and he found renewed purpose in his life. And somehow, during this dark and trying journey, his once notorious temper ebbed away along with his grief. Even during the darkest of days, he never stopped cooking. His passion for food never deserted him. It carried him through the dark times and reminded him that life was worth living and living well.

And somewhere in the deep reaches of the universe an eye opened and a finger stirred the pot of destiny. One day, a deliberately anonymous and self-deprecating chef would cook a dish fit for a queen, and the fallen queen of Hollywood would taste that dish and know it for what it was. If there was enough of Kate left in that queen, she would rise from her table mid-meal and march into the kitchens, wrapping her arms around her destiny there and then and never, ever letting him go again.

The eye blinked and from under it came a sad and low groan. All the owner of the eye could do was give people a second chance. The rest of it was up to them, which was entertainingly frustrating; would they ever learn?

October 02, 2023 22:23

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Mary Bendickson
15:13 Oct 03, 2023

You are the first one I have read to tackle this prompt. It was fully fulfilling as only Jed can stir up.


Jed Cope
23:33 Oct 03, 2023

Aw! Thank you Mary. I really appreciate that - a great pick me up at the end of a lovely day! I have another story in the wings - sleeping on the draft and likely submit it tomorrow.


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21:17 Oct 10, 2023

I loved your opening. The imagery of how a restaurant presents itself was great. I found myself invested in your story and as I walked away from it, I had to remind myself it was indeed a story and to not spend my whole day being upset with Kate.


Jed Cope
08:40 Oct 11, 2023

I love how this story got under your skin and spoke to you. Thanks for letting me know - it's good to know I represented the story faithfully. Don't be too hard on Kate. We all assume and fill in the gaps that are not ours to fill. Maybe we fear listening to the truth of the people around us and what that would mean for us...


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