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Davide Castel Davide Castel
Recommendations: 39

Accept the Strange

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She had a friend.

This is a repost of a bit of a 'Tastless' type of a semi-fictional story. I'll let you be the judge of what is fictional and what is factual.

Life is amazing when a thought, then a notion, can become a full blown reality.  

This is the story of two young men who created a controversy in their quest for culinary excellence.

                            * * *

Jimmy Collins and Jake Brown were best friends since Primary School and apprentices in their final year of an elite course for gourmet chefs.  Jimmy was the adventurous one, finding fun in creating strange concoctions from his sometimes warped yet brilliant ideas.  Jake was the practical one who also loved the exhilaration of the unusual.  He put credence to all Jimmy’s imaginations.

The latest idea came from having enjoyed a gourmet style dinner at the family home of their teacher Tobias, a seasoned chef.  It was a dinner which surpassed anything that they had ever tasted and a dinner which Jimmy and Jake, his star pupils, offered to repay in kind. The challenge was set.  They also would create something unique at a mutually agreed date.  

Some months later after much secretive experimentation, that day had now arrived.  Tobias and guests were invited to a Sunday luncheon, prepared entirely by the two young men.

The planning had not been without its unforeseen delays and disappointments for the cash strapped apprentices. Jimmy had come up with another of his brilliant ideas as a possible solution.  Jake was sceptical at first, but the idea did seem creative and would hopefully, surprise their guests. They would marinate the meal in lemon, garlic, rosemary and other secret ingredients to create succulent pieces of gastronomic delight.

The meal for 20 guests was an outstanding success.  Jimmy and Jake had put all their culinary skills to use by preparing a banquet. They had been hailed ‘Chefs of the future’ when they presented an assortment of original dishes most satisfying to the palette.  All the entrees, mains and sweets, were prepared in a bright and colourful display on presentation.

Even Gaston, the food critic from the local paper, came to review the occasion.

He knew his meats well, and on departure he whispered, ‘Naughty boys!’ but had been most impressed at their originality.

                            * * *

The night was dark and mysterious.  Strange things were afoot though Veronica was oblivious. Her sleep was deep and undisturbed.  Her old bones were weary from a busy day in the garden.  

She was awoken at dawn by the twittering of birds one morning in September.  Spring beckoned and the fruits of her labour grew rapidly under her constant tendering.  She had been looking forward to another day in her garden.

Veronica was a woman of habit, her morning schedule unfolding as she unlocked her back veranda door with food in readiness to feed her remaining two pets.  Was it sadly only a few months ago that she was the proud owner of five?  She called out to her companions in the usual way with repetitive kissing sounds.  

‘Bobbi ... Gigi ... Come and get it’.

Where were they, she wondered mystified?  Her companions were always there for her, especially in the mornings, their first meal of the day.  She checked in their now empty sleep box and also under the house where they often escaped for the coolness it offered, but with no success.

As the morning progressed with no companions to be seen, Veronica became concerned.  Perhaps they had abandoned her like the others for another family to care for them?  She shuddered at that thought.  Her home-loving pets would not abandon her, surely?

Bobbi was her constant and faithful companion who never ventured outside the home gates. He was a large and beautiful white cat who kept her company whenever she ventured outside into the garden and always welcomed her at the front gate on her return from an outing.  

Gigi, on the other hand, was grey coloured and often ventured further than the garden confines.  He was more of an opportunist, appearing only for his food and lodgings and to snuggle up close to Bobbi in their cardboard sleep box.

It was two days later when a frightened, dishevelled and hungry Gigi made his appearance at the food bowl and ravaged the contents.  When he had finished, she picked him up tenderly.   He was shaking all over.

‘Whatever has happened to you?’ Veronica asked him softly, noting the raw and broken skin under his collar.  He huddled tightly in her arms which was quite uncharacteristic of him.  When she let him go, he escaped onto the roof of the house, reappearing some days later.  This time, he ran into the house and would not leave, stubbornly staying on the chair.  

Veronica now understood that Gigi had been traumatised and perhaps felt insecure by the loss of his partner. Those two were a fine pair.  Veronica smiled at the image of the fastidious Gigi licking clean the face of the docile Bobbi, as well as administering to his own daily washings.  Had Bobbi been run over by a car? That seemed unlikely for he never left the premises. Did someone take him? Surely she would have heard the squeaky front gate if it was opened, yet the sensor lights did seem to brighten the night quite often of late.

Perhaps someone climbed over the back fence?  The neighbours there were a strange lot with their comings and goings and deafening music. Her old ears had taken a severe drumming. Other neighbours had also complained of the noise along with the disappearances of their pets.

Against her better judgement, Veronica relented and kept him inside.  This then became their daily routine. Each morning Gigi would be picked up by Veronica, carried outside then let loose but once free, he would again escape onto the roof, reappearing late each afternoon to run back into the house where he obsessively licked himself clean.  

‘I will protect you,’ she promised him.  ‘Someone will pay’.  

It was all a mystery, but then life was a mystery in itself especially for a spritely ninety year old widow who had lived a hard and fulfilled life and suspected more than she was prepared to admit.

An absurd suspicion began to materialise when she eyed a small bottle of black liquid.  She dealt with each problem according to their merit.  Veronica would visit to her neighbours with a freshly baked batch of lamingtons.

                     * * *
The following week...

Gigi looked adoringly at his new, tiny companion.  One which appeared mysteriously on the doorstep that morning, with a big red bow tied around its neck.

‘It was meant to be a joke, then a dare, but something went horribly wrong.  It became an obsession.’

This was what Jimmy Collins and Jake Brown told Tobias from their sick beds, suffering from a humiliating and a gastronomic illness, amongst other complaints.

They had confessed.  But, had they learned their lesson?

                     * * *

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