The limos pulled up one by one stretching along 760 United Nations Plaza, in Manhattan, New York. The dignitaries, ambassadors and secretaries of every country in the world emerged from the individual vehicles. There were nods of recognition and some stern, almost dirty looks.
The security was intense and every person was carefully scrutinized before they entered the building even if they were instantly recognized. This included the President of the United States. The abundance of news cameras outside made sure to capture every nuance. It was organized chaos as the world held its collective breath watching a story unfold that would tip the scales one way or another.
Once inside, there was more organized chaos. The security intensity had not subsided — if anything it had increased — and everyone was ushered and escorted to their proper places.
Inside the room, the tension was so thick that it felt like a bomb ready to explode. There was some chattering, but every conversation was kept low-key, there were no smiles or expressions of joy. The groups were clustered together and appeared to be very snobbish and inclusive.
Donna Joy, the President of the United States of America arrived with her aide and the poker face didn’t reveal anything. The tension in her pretty, aged face was apparent. She didn’t acknowledge anyone, just took her seat and exhaled. The last twenty-four hours had been excruciating.
There was no press allowed in the United Nations building and to add to the confusion and chaos outside, a group protested outside with signs that read: Freedom of the Press! Is America a Communist Country? We Have the Freedom of Caged Monkeys!
It took a while for all of the delegates to be seated and for everyone to prepare and organize. The President of China Chen Ming sat down. His face was stoic, unforgiven. He didn’t even dare to glance at Donna Joy.
Eventually, everyone had settled down and the emergency meeting began. The speaker, the distinguished Mr. Nishad Horari, looked nervous, anxious.
“I want to start off by saying that as the house speaker, I have been at many interesting meetings. However, none have ever been of such great importance. I want everyone to remember that the fate of the world hangs in the balance of how we treat each other. Let us remember that we are all humans and want the best for our individual countries and fellow countrymen, as well as our families. I will start this meeting with a poem of peace that a seventh grade student in Qatar wrote.”
There a couple of coughs and squeaking chairs.
“What is world peace? Does it or can it exist? There are many forces on this earth and they all seem to resist, the idea of the power of love, the idea of equality, the right to believe in a God above, the concept of rights, individuality, that we are not created the same, that some lives are not worth anything, that toying with human life is a game, that being different is a sin.”
He took his glasses off. The distinguished gentleman with a touch of grey at the temples, dressed impeccably choked back the tears as he wiped one from his right cheek.
“Now if a twelve year old can understand the idea of world peace then how come a group of world leaders, adults, can’t seem to grasp it?”
The room exploded.
“The Chinese have threatened to destroy the planet. They are holding American hostages with no valid reason.” Donna Joy was up and fighting.
“You Americans are nothing but a bunch of bullies. You think you can tell the world what to do so it benefits you.”
There were shouts and screams hurled across the room like tennis balls.
“Order, I demand order,” screamed an angry and upset Nishad. He pounded the gavel until everyone quieted down. “Obviously, that poem had no effect on you. The world is at crisis.”
Everyone bowed their heads looking ashamed.
“There is a major famine in many parts of Africa. There were Tibetan Monks burning setting themselves on fire in the name of freedom. A group of Brazilian teenagers shut down their school for a day for better conditions. In Japan, one hundred thirteen year old girls took to the streets and shut down the city of Tokyo for women’s rights. Do you want more?”
Because the meeting was thought to be a long, drawn out process, food was to be provided for all of the delegates.
In the kitchen, there were at least thirty staff running about in almost perfect and precise coordinated moves; there were no collisions or accidents. If making food for well over a hundred people was an Olympic event where no one was allowed to bump into another person, that staff would have won a gold medal.
The coordinator, the driving force, and organizer behind the entire operation was Esmeralda Bajucz. She was a fifty something woman, ageless, maybe average height, with a spirit and energy that was the envy of the younger staff.
Earlier, when she was showing up for work, she had been stopped and interviewed.
“Excuse me, can I have a few minutes of your time?”
Esmeralda smiled graciously, and nodded.
“Of course, you can. I am very busy but you have a job to do. How can I help you out?”
“Are you nervous to be cooking for all of the world leaders?”
She laughed and shook her head.
“I have been cooking since I was a little girl. Every stomach is different, yet every stomach is the same. The underlying theory is that good food will always win out over anything.”
“I see, so what are you going to prepare for the dignitaries?”
“Well, the menu has been kept a secret and I will not know anything until I walk in.”
“Thank you for your time.”
“You are welcome.”
Esmeralda left and survived security finally making it to the kitchen. She had been especially chosen to make that day’s meal.
“I want to welcome everyone to this project. I know that times are very tense right now and we have been thrown in the middle. We all have an opinion of what is going on in the world and how to fix it. Let’s concentrated on our job here. Does anyone have any questions?”
Drake smiled and said: “Can I have your autograph?”
Everyone laughed including Esmeralda.
“Sure, we’ll talk later. Okay, I have looked at the menu and it will be a challenge, but if we work together, then we can get this done. I want you three to start chopping mushrooms. I want you to start cracking eggs; you will crack one hundred of them, no more, no less. You are in charge of the salad; I want it to look appetizing and I want it to taste great. You, sir, are in charge of the soup. You are allowed two helpers of your choice. You are going to make the potatoes; it is much easier than it sounds. You are going to make the dessert. You will need four assistants of your own choosing.”
She smiled and everyone stood at attention.
They all went into action.
A sweet, innocent looking young girl walked up and smiled.
“I’m sorry, my name is Jaylene and you didn’t give me an assignment.”
“Oh, okay, well you can help me.”
“It would be such an honour and privilege. You are the reason why I want to be a chef. I will never be as great or famous as you, but I will try.”
Esmeralda was touched.
“Thank you, I really like that.”
She also went to work more overseeing than actually participating.
It took some time, but it came together nicely. Esmeralda was very happy with the progress.
Eventually, everything was finished.
“I want to thank all of you for your hard work on such a short notice. There is going to be a meal for everyone in the next room. Please go now and I will be there in a few minutes.”
She looked around and smiled at the youngest, most determined cook there.
“Jaylene, will you please stay with me?”
“Yes, I would love to; it would be an honour.”
Everyone else left and Drake sneered: “Teacher’s pet!”
Jaylene was very excited and nervous. She sneered at her friend.
Once everyone was gone, Esmeralda pulled a bottle from her pocket.
“What is that?”
“I like you and wanted to tell someone about this. I liked your spunk and decided that you would be teacher’s pet.”
Jaylene made a face and Esmeralda laughed.
“I heard what your friend said.”
“That’s okay,” said the young girl.
“This is a potion that calms people down and makes them more tolerable of others.”
“How did you make that?”
“I was born a gypsy in Romania. I travelled all over Eastern Europe and then through Western Europe. I even spent time in Northern Europe. I have lived in the Caribbean where voodoo was prevalent. I have lived in the French Quarter in New Orleans, another great place for how shall we say doing things differently.”
“Your resume is so awesome.”
“Yes, and that is only a small portion of what I have accomplished. However, my greatest and most proud achievements are my children. Now, I am not much of a politician, although I do know how to play politics. I have children and little ones all over this planet. I have two beautiful granddaughters in Brazil. I have a handsome grandson in Romania. I have a lovely granddaughter in New Orleans. I have three grandchildren in Costa Rica. I have another grandchild in Florence, Italy. Now, I understand that it is difficult for all of the countries to get along, but there is no way that I want my babies that are spread all over the world harmed in any way. It is time someone puts some sense into the heads of these politicians.”
“Wow, that is really impressive.”
“I have studied and learnt from all types of people from all over the world. This will calm everyone down and smooth things over. Your job is to help me spread it in the food.”
So the two of them poured a little throughout all of the food mixing it in and no one was the wiser.
The tension and screaming had not subsided in the United Nations. It was time for a break and food. They all retired to the large dining room and the food was served. It was delicious and after dessert it was time to go back to work.
But, there was no screaming and the tension was gone. Everyone was calmer and smiled.
“I know that tensions can get really high at times, but we all have to remember that life is too precious to do something stupid.” Donna Joy smiled at everyone and everyone smiled back at her.
“I fully agree with you. What are we fighting about?”
A peace accord was hammered out quickly and everyone hugged and kissed cheek to cheek.
In the dining room off the main one that was reserved for the cooks, they all had read on their phones how a world crisis had been averted. There would be no nuclear war.
Jaylene looked at Esmeralda who winked at the girl and patted the bottle of peace potion in her pocket.
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HI David. I think you did a great job of setting the stage and building tension. I really wanted to know more about Esmerelda. She has this mystical-sounding past - I think you could add some magic to your piece by including more about her. Maybe she remembers how she learned to make the potion in her travels by a particular teacher or teachers, something like that. I had a technical question about the security detail - would security be watching the food preparation to make sure the world's leaders/representatives aren't poisoned? I don't ...
Cool concept for a story. The first paragraph really caught my attention. I think it was a great hook.