America has a new reality show. Can unknown Chef Carrie Thompson prepare 'Food To Die Smiling Food'
Short Story, flash fiction and some great recipes.
DAY ONE - BREAKFAST
Ian McGregor had chosen me.
The letter shook within my tightly clutched fingers. It didn't make sense. I wasn't some great chef with a million followers. I couldn't even get on Hell's Kitchen. My small International Cuisine restaurant was so far off the map that Google didn't even recognize me. So why would the notorious serial killer pick me to prepare his last meals?
Rolling my eyes toward heaven I grimaced and muttered. "You hate me don't you? You really, really hate me."
"Who hates you?" Sammi asked, shoving a cinnamon roll into her mouth.
"God hates me. And Ian McGregor is going to destroy me."
Sammi swallowed the roll, eyes growing huge. "Ian McGregor chose you?"
I nodded, holding out the damning letter.
"Woot!" Sammi screamed, doing her little happy dance. "We're in the money. We're in the money."
"Only if he dies smiling." I scowled, taking back the letter. "And in the last five years no one has died smiling."
Sammi stopped in mid hip roll, the seriousness of the situation sinking into the brain beneath all that blonde hair. "Ooh, crap."
"Yeah, ooh crap is right. All our work, money, everything will be lost. All he has to do is frown, burp or God forbid fart, and we're destroyed. And he's made it plain his intention is to kill me."
Sammi took the letter frowning as she read it again. "I don't get it."
"He killed his first two women in Ireland, and he wants an Irish breakfast. The second two in Italy, and he wants an Italian lunch, and the last two in Louisiana, so he's chosen a Cajun dinner. What's that say to you?"
Sammi grinned, breaking into song. "Memories, like the corners of my mind. . . ."
Flopping down on the sofa, a remembrance of our first and only month's profit, I sighed. "Better enjoy them. In three days or less, memories are all we'll have left."
A lot of people believed that just because Sammi was your typical California blonde, gorgeous beyond what any woman had a right to be, and with those honey gold locks, that she would be your typical 'dumb blonde'. In truth, she was brilliant, and her next words reinforced that beyond my wildest dreams.
"You're looking at this all wrong. They called him the 'Killer Food Date' because he always chose a restaurant employee, preferably a chef, and he always took them out to eat before he killed them. He's a sadistic, mentally unstable connoisseur serial killer. And what does every serial killer want?"
I shrugged, sinking into my misery, reading the letter again. "Dessert and he doesn't even tell me what country he wants it from."
Sammi started her little happy dance, again. "Memories. They want to remember and enjoy their killings. That's his dessert."
"Sammi, that's sick."
Sammi laughed and punched me on arm. "Carrie, you're so you. Get with the program. Of course it's sick. But all we have to do is find out what he ate on the majority of his "killer dates" and I guarantee you he'll die with a smile on his face."
Taking the letter, she scanned it again. "Tomorrow is breakfast. Let's see what we can find."
Pulling out the laptop she clicked away. "Easy as pie."
"Pie for breakfast?"
Sammi rolled her eyes. "Of course not silly, although that's not a bad idea. The restaurant owner said he had bread with some kind of cream spread and tea."
"What kind of bread?"
Sammi shrugged. "Doesn't say, but it was Irish bread. Can't be that many Irish breads, can there?"
"Dozens. What kind of spread?"
Sammi glanced at the article. "Doesn't say."
Great. Just great. All I had to do was pick the right bread, the right spread and pray. Of course, God hated me so prayer wasn't going to do much good. I was dead. My career over before anyone besides Ian McGregor even knew I existed.
"Wasn't your grandfather Irish?" Sammi cooed excitedly, still counting that imaginary money she saw falling from heaven.
My grandfather was Irish and I had some of grandma's recipes. "This could work," I mumbled, Sammi's excitement becoming contagious. "I need to grab grandma's recipes and start cooking."
Sammi nodded still rolling her hips in a happy dance and singing under her breath, "We're in the money. We're in the money."
I didn't have a clue who made up this silly death watch game, but after a long, sleepless night I had a real good feel for being on death row and waiting for the clock to count down. Glancing at my watch I loaded up the breakfast basket. Where the heck was Sammi? Shouldn't your best friend and business partner be here when they led you to the gallows? Three days. I had three days of this nightmarish hell. If I made it through today.
"Look what I bought you!" Sammi flounced into the room, long hair swaying. "You're going to be lovely."
"I am not wearing that hat." I shivered, glancing at the chef's outfit from hell.
"Oh, yes, you are!" Sammi pulled at my arms, shoving them into the jacket before pushing the hat down on my head and turning me towards the mirror. "See, lovely."
"I look like a buffoon," I stated, trying to pull off the hat as Sammi pushed and pulled, arranging it over my strawberry curls.
"You have to dress the part," Sammi stated, pushing a few stray curls under the hat.
I glanced at her hot pink mini. "So what about you?"
Sammi grinned mischievously. "I'm eye-candy. If the food doesn't make him smile, maybe the thoughts of slitting my throat will."
"Jesus, Sammi." I buttoned the coat, taking one last glance in the mirror.
Grabbing the basket, she examined the contents pulling out the jar of ice cold water. "Where's the tea?"
"We'll have to make it at the prison. You can't reheat Irish tea. Makes it taste bitter."
"No problem." Sammi took me by the arm, pulling and pushing me toward the door. "We have to make our way through the media, so let me do the talking."
"Media?" I squirmed under her intense gaze. "No one said anything about media."
Sammi didn't bother answering. Instead she pasted a radiant smile on her face and led me out into the glare of camera flashes and microphones shoved my way.
"Ms. Thompson, were you surprised when Mr. McGregor chose you?"
"Carrie, is it true you had an affair with Ian McGregor before he started killing women?"
"Is it true that Hell's Kitchen turned down your restaurant because it was beyond repair?"
The questions were fired at me from left and right. Sammi never lost her smile as she opened the limo door and pushed me inside, and with a swivel of her hips and show of long luscious legs climbed in beside me. "Ms. Thompson has no comments."
Pulling off the hat I tossed it on the seat beside me as the driver weaved his way through the media. "You should have let me answer them. Where do they get that stuff?"
Sammi shook her head. "They'll change their tune when this is all over. And they don't get it anywhere. They make it up."
The limo pulled through the prison gates and Sammi rearranged the hat on my head. "Now, show those pearly whites, and let's go make a killer smile."
"What you got for me for, sweetie?" McGregor posed the question to me, but his eyes were traveling up and down Sammi's body, a slow smile spreading across his handsome features.
I swallowed hard, trying to find my voice. "We have a delicious Soda Bread with cream spread and tea." I placed the plate in front of him and poured the cup of tea. "I hope you enjoy it."
He raised an eyebrow, finally allowing his gaze to drift to my face. "Take off the hat."
Pulling the hat off, I pushed the curls back from my face.
"Aye. That's what I wanted to see. Those strawberry curls. My first date had strawberry curls, you know." He picked up a slice of bread covered in cream spread, bit off a huge chunk and washed it down with tea. "I like women with strawberry curls."
"Thank you," I whispered, glancing at Sammi who simply smiled and shrugged. What difference did it make what he liked as long as he smiled. The single film crew Warden Temperman had allowed inside the cafeteria was hanging on to every word, cameras honed in on McGregor's face.
"I'd like to see you in strawberry curls." McGregor turned his attention back to Sammi. "Think you could do that for me? We could do lunch tomorrow."
I felt Sammi stiffen by my side. This wasn't what we had expected. McGregor was up to something. The implication was clear. Sammi wore strawberry curls and he'd smile. If she didn't. . .
Sammi started to speak, but I cut her off. "I'm sorry, Mr. McGregor. Strawberry's not a good color on Sammi. I guess you'll be eating alone tomorrow."
Taking Sammi's arm I pulled her back toward the entrance. My career might be over, but I wasn't playing this lunatic's game.
We'd taken only a few steps when the camera crew went wild. "There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, Chef Carrie Thompson has pulled off day one of our death watch contest by preparing Food to Die Smiling For."
I glanced back to find McGregor smiling from ear to ear holding a second piece of bread. Sammi was humming "we're in the money," and I could hear the prisoners in the background screaming and clapping. I met McGregor's gaze, noting the gleam in his eyes, slight nod of the head as he took a bite. He'd let me win day one, but tomorrow was a new challenge. He didn't think I was up to it. I smiled back, nodding just slightly. "I'll see you tomorrow."
McGregor laughed, shaking the chains that held him to the table. "I'll look forward to it."