Here’s a little experiment I’ve been working on recently.
12:57pm. Jack was an hour behind his intended schedule as he washed his hands thoroughly over the kitchen sink, quietly cursing to himself for taking too long to find the finest ingredients for his dinner date later that evening.
He dried his hands, wiped the sink and surrounding area then rested the towel over his shoulder as he checked one last time he had everything ready. The home grown vegetables neatly lined up across the work top beside a wooden chopping board, a selection of his best chef knives with sharpening file, a butchers cleaver, weighing scales with large bowl, a hand operated mincer, a collection of orthopaedic tools and scalpels, a variety of herbs and spices, several large Chinese takeaway pots, a dinner plate, a number of bowls, and a radio tuned to a station playing classical music.
He turned up the volume and hummed along to the Blue Danube as he donned a white apron, looking over the sink to double check he’d wiped every droplet of water, leaving it looking like new. He began to chop the vegetables with the same care and precision of a surgeon, cleaning up after every step to keep his kitchen in the pristine condition he likes to keep it in. The unusable leftovers were put into a small cardboard box to be disposed of on the compost heap later.
He opened a packet of raw spaghetti and left it to stand in the pan ready to receive the water at the appropriate time, and placed a smaller pan beside it half filled with water and put on a medium flame. The chopped vegetables were kept in a bowl and the chopping board was given a spray of disinfectant.
Time was passing and everything had to be perfect. He wanted to impress the young lady so decided to cook her favourite dish from scratch. With Mozart merrily dancing through the air he retrieved a large object from the fridge, resting on a plate wrapped in brown greaseproof paper. He placed it beside the chopping board and brought the mincer a little closer.
From the draw before him he gathered a pair of rubber gloves and eased his hands into them, and opened the paper parcel to reveal the body of a female human infant. He took a moment to observe the ingredient before slowly lifting it up and examining it more closely. The limbs were fairly lose as the rigamortis had already passed, and the skin was a pail yet still a lifelike colour. He took it over to the sink and ran it under a lukewarm jet, rubbing away the residual gunk from its various wrinkles and fleshy folds.
Satisfied with its overall condition and that it was now fully defrosted, he patted it dry with paper towels and took it to the weighing scales, curling it up to fit into the bowl and left it to settle. The needle stopped at nearly ten pounds and he removed the body with a contented grin.
He placed it on the wooden chopping board and eased the remains of the umbilical cord from its belly, dropping it onto the brown paper then screwing it up into a tight fist sized ball and left it on the edge of the work top, then set about cleaning the sink once again.
He picked up the meat cleaver and whistled along to the Mozart as he ran the sharpening file over it a few times.
He stretched out its arms, and with a swift chop removed the child’s left arm from the shoulder, twisting and pulling to free them from what the blade couldn’t manage with the initial slice, and placing it on the plate beside the mincer, repeating the action with the right arm. Next he removed the head by pushing the blade through its throat just above the collar bones, feeling it cutting through flesh, cartilage and bone before resting on the wood with a satisfying crunch, placing the severed head with the arms.
With a small scalpel he opened the abdomen slicing up to the ribs, then cutting down the chest. With a longer knife he sliced under the skin of the chest then folded it back to reveal the ribs. Among the surgical tools was a pair of bone cutters that he used to snip the sides of the ribs then lifted the front of the cage away from the body, trimming connective tissue with the small scalpel.
He carefully removed the organs one at a time, placing the heart, liver and kidneys on the plate. He left the stomach and intestines and placed the rest of the organs into the pan of boiling water. They’ll make a tasty treat for the neighbour’s dog in the morning. With the smallest knife he carefully cut out the anus and placed the stomach and gut into one of the takeaway pots, pressing on the lid to make it snap shut all the way round.
He trimmed the skin from the chest and put it into the mincer, then straightened the baby girl’s legs. With the small knife he made circular cuts around the top of the thighs by the hip joint down to the bone, then bent the legs up until they popped out of the sockets with a crack. He cut away the adjoining tendons as the Mozart came to an end. He sharpened the knives as the news came on the radio.
“In our main news this evening, the investigation into the abduction of several infants is now into its sixth week. Detective Helen Marshall who’s heading the inquiries is appealing for more witnesses to come forward.”
He removed his right glove by pulling it inside out over his hand and turned the radio to CD player. He pressed the skip to reach a certain track and sang along to Pavarotti in a live performance of Nessun Dorma.
With a fresh pair of gloves he chopped off the baby’s hands and feet and stripped the arms and legs down to the bone using the scalpels, putting the flesh and meat into the mincer. He stripped the carcass of as much meat as he could and added it to the rest. He removed the remaining ribs from the spine and put them in a large food bag with the rest of the ribs ready for another day. All the bones were gathered up and put into another small box with the brown paper. They’ll be put in the wood burner to be destroyed later, making the dining room nice and warm for his date.
He minced the meat, gathering it into a bowl and mixed with various herbs and spices, then put in the fridge until ready to cook. All that remained was the little girls head.
Following an initial tidy up and sterilisation of the utensils he’s used thus far, he was ready to prepare the ingredients for the dessert. With a fresh pair of gloves he took from a draw a modified tool of his own design, a ring with a set of circular blades attached to a split handle that could be opened and closed, useful for slicing the top of a coconut without losing the milk. He put it beside the head on the chopping board along with another bowl and a tablespoon, and measured the circumference of the head with a thin tape measure. He picked up the tool and began to adjust it accordingly.
He opened the handles and placed the ring around the top of the girl’s cranium, then pushed the handles towards each other until the blades pressed into the skin. Holding the head in his left hand and the handles in his right, he squeezed the handles together by slowly curling his fingers into a fist. There came a wet grinding sound as the blades cut into the bone. He twisted the head one way whilst moving the tool in the other direction, being careful not to move too harshly to avoid shattering the delicate bone plates.
He put the head back on the board and unlocked the tool, prising it away, then rinsed it under the hot tap ready to be washed. He held the head over the bowl and went round the cut with the small knife, lifted the top of the skull away taking half the sack surrounding the brain with it, catching the fluid in the bowl. He trimmed the rest of the sack away and held the head upside down over the bowl. With the tablespoon he scooped out the brain.
He opened the baby’s mouth to dislocate the jaw and with a quick swish he removed the tongue, adding it to the other organs on the plate. He filled the blender with a variety of sugary ingredients to make the dessert with a measured amount of full fat milk and water. In went the brain, the lid applied, and the mixture was thrashed to a pinkish pulp. He’ll add flavourings and food colourings to taste at the appropriate time.
The two pieces of the head went into another bowl and covered with tinfoil. He placed it at the back of the fridge on the bottom shelf and hid it behind a carton of fresh Orange juice. The plate with the organs sat on the top shelf.
Everything was ready, now to clean the whole kitchen. A pretty young lady will be here in a little over five hours. His house must be sterile and perfect in every detail.
7:38pm, a car pulls up on his long stony driveway. Moments later the doorbell rings as the car drives away. He opens the door and greets his guest with a warm friendly smile. “Helen. So glad you could make it.”
“Hi,” she said, shivering as she stepped over the doorstep. “Not late am I?”
“Not at all.” He gives her a kiss on the cheek and takes her coat, observing her smart yet casual attire. “Long day at the office?” he asked.
“Yes, sorry, I didn’t have time to get dressed up.”
“It doesn’t matter,” he chuckled.
“Wow,” she said, looking around his home, feeling obliged to slip off her shoes.
“Hungry?” he asked.
“Good. I’ve just served up.”
“This way my lady.” He took her to the dining room where the table was set for two, with candles, quiet music and bottle of red wine. The dishes were under two gleaming silver domes. “This is amazing,” she said, “you didn’t need to go to all this trouble for me.”
“On the contrary. Mother always told me to impress a special lady, one must always go the extra mile,” he said pulling back her chair inviting her to sit. Once she was seated he took the bottle and carefully popped the top and filled their glasses. “Thank you,” she said. He bowed with his head and put the bottle down. “If you’ll excuse me for just a moment?”
“Of course.” He went into the kitchen and she had a chance to have a quick look around. The house was immaculate. The logs in the wood burner in the large stone fireplace were burning brightly. The wall over the fireplace was adorned with several oil paintings of various scenes of nature, framed photographs of family members, a small picture of him in his army gear, an extensive collection of classical music records by the stereo, and in the corner of the room beside the couch was a Cello, which made her raise her eyebrows.
“Are you ready?” he asked, returning to the table holding the decorative handles on top of the domes. “Can’t wait,” she said. He lifted the domes revealing the perfectly presented dish with a delicate cloud of steam gently rising into the air. “Spag boll,” she said. He put the domes on a serving trolley and took to his seat, placing a napkin on his lap. “If my lady would care to take the first bite?”
“I love Spag Boll with meat balls,” she said.
“How do you know?”
“I have an enquiring mind. Please,” he said, gesturing for her to begin. She paused as she observed the variety of knives and forks beside her plate. “Erm, I never was familiar with all this etiquette stuff?”
He chuckled. “The large one,” he said. With a smile she picked up her fork and twisted it in to the side of the spaghetti to gather a small sample. He watched patiently as she placed it into her mouth. “Oh my god,” she said, “this is absolutely delicious.”
“Much obliged,” he said filling his own fork.
Two empty plates and a couple of glasses of wine the conversation had moved through a handful of subjects and the mood was ever more relaxed. “Did you cook all this yourself?” she asked.
“From scratch. I don’t believe in all these ready made and pre mixed stuff. A proper meal is a form of art and must be created by hand every step of the way with only the finest ingredients.”
“Was you’re mom a good cook?”
“Yes indeed, but my father was a chef. Its from him that I get my passion for cooking.”
“Well I have to say, I’ve never enjoyed spag boll as much as I have tonight. It was actually better than my Moms and trust me, that’s a compliment. There must be a secret ingredient.”
“Yes there is. And old family recipe entrusted to me going back several generations. And before you ask what it is, I’ll say that a true chef is like a magician, he never reveals his secrets.”
“How do you get the mince meat so lean? Every time I try it ends up tasting fatty.”
“By slowly frying it and regularly draining the excess juices away.”
“It was glorious.”
“Thank you,” he said raising his glass. She raised hers, lightly touching with a clink. “Thank you for having me,” she said.
“How’s the investigation going?” he asked. Her shoulders slumped and she sighed. “It isn’t. We’ve come to a complete standstill. Those infants may as well have been abducted by aliens.”
“Oh dear. Surely there must be some clues to chase up?”
“We’re following every lead and coming to a dead end every time. We don’t know weather we’re hunting a single individual or an organised gang. So far we’re just running around in circles.”
“What do you think?”
“Personally, I think it’s an individual, someone with extensive knowledge and skills way beyond the average person.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Its just a feeling I get. But of course, I’m not really supposed to talk about it.”
“Then why are you?”
“I don’t know. It’s a big part of my job to keep things strictly to myself, I suppose its good to be able to speak to someone I feel I can trust now and then.”
“I can’t imagine the pressure you must be under sometimes.”
“I’m a woman. I can handle it. Besides, I’ve worked hard to land a case like this and I can’t afford to screw it up. How’s the book coming along by the way?”
“Slowly. It’s a rather complicated plot.”
“What’s it about?”
He chuckled. “Actually, its about a psychopath.”
“Who likes to amuse himself by keeping the police on their toes.”
“How does he manage that?”
“Mainly, by getting his victims to commit his crimes themselves.”
“Sounds intriguing,” she said, in a manner to entice him for more.
“I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.”
“Your mean.” He smiled and shrugged his shoulders. “That’s a lovely Cello you have over there. Do you play?”
“No I’ve never had the patience to learn. It was my Grandmothers originally, passed down to me by my mother.”
“Is it old?”
“It has a lovely tone but not quite a concert standard. More for pleasure.”
“Shame. I was hoping for a serenade.”
“Would you like some more wine?”
“Maybe one more glass. I have a busy day ahead of me tomorrow. Another lead to follow up.”
“Are you hopeful?”
“Yes. We have a piece of CCTV footage we believe could be significant.”
“Really?” He asked, pouring the wine a little slower.
“Of course the press don’t know anything about it yet. Hopefully they won’t catch on, that’s the last thing I need right now. How long were you in the Army?”
“Ten years. Would you care for some dessert?”
“I think I might have a little room left.”
He brings two crystal glass bowls from the fridge and two solid silver dessertspoons. The bowls are filled to the brim with a pink creamy substance that makes her eyes glitter with childish excitement. “Angel Delight?” she asked.
“Home made,” he said as he sat back down.
“I used to love this as a child. Every Sunday round my Nana’s for dinner. It was either this or treacle sponge with thick custard.”
“As always, Ladies first. Oh, I forgot the cream. Excuse me.”
“No, no, you sit there, I’ll get it.”
“In the fridge, right?”
“Erm,” before he could do anything she was strolling toward the fridge. A surge of energy rushed through his body and his shaking hands curled into fists until his knuckles turned white. His heart thumped as he fort hard to suppress the urge to send the table flying across the room and drag her back to her chair by her throat. His need for control was being challenged by her innocent display of courtesy and he couldn’t afford to lose it now. He watched her as though in slow motion under a crushing sensation if helplessness. As she reached out he called in as calm a voice as he could manage, “just in the door.”
She opened the fridge and looked at the tray at its base. There was a small bowl with crisp white cream and a teaspoon. She took it from the tray and turned as she closed the door, giving him a glimpse of the plate with the infant’s organs sat on the shelf in plain view.
“Here we go,” she said, scooping a dollop of cream on to his dessert. “Are you ok, you look a little tense,” she asked.
“I’m, not used to being waited on you know,” he said.
“Neither am I,” she said sitting down, “I’m a very independent kind-a girl. Is the cream home made as well?”
“…Naturally.” He watched her with a smile as she helped herself to a large amount of cream, then dipped the tip of her little finger to steel a taste. “Mmm, That’s good.”
Now, where were we, oh yes, Ladies first.”
She slowly scooped up a piece of Delight and placed it into her mouth. The left side of his lips twitched slightly as she sampled the flavour.
“Oh my word,” she said, “that’s quite unusual.”
“Does it displease you?”
“No, no its great, its just,” he raised his eyebrows. “I’m expecting to taste the strawberry, and I do, but then there’s this savoury undercurrent that gives it a little, edge.” She scooped up a bigger sample.
“Its really nice.”
He smiled and began to eat his portion as she steadily devoured hers.
9:48pm. “Thank you so much for a wonderful evening,” she said as he helped her into her coat.
“My pleasure. It’s a shame you have to leave so early. I feel we have much to talk about.”
“Same here. We’ll do it again sometime.” A moment passed between them as they silently looked into each other’s eyes. “Erm, may I ask,” she said, “why you have an interest in me?”
“Have you looked in the mirror lately?” he said. She smiled, trying to prevent a blush. “I haven’t had many relationships in my life,” he said, “I feel its time I tried my chances with a beautiful intelligent young woman in the hope of settling down. I know we haven’t known each other very long, but, I feel a connection with you.” She blushed.
“You can stay if you wish? I can accommodate.”
“You feeling lucky?”
“Maybe.” Their faces drew closer; the intimate moment that would have been between them was interrupted by the tooting of a car horn. A giggle instead of a kiss. “Maybe next time,” she said.
“Of course my Lady.”
“My Lady? I could get used to that.”
“Here. There was plenty of left over. Have some for pack-up tomorrow.” He handed her a large Chinese takeaway pot filled with the Bolognese. “Thank you.” She kissed him on the cheek. “Good night.”
From the door he watched her get into the car. She gave him a quick wave as the car turned. He closed the door behind him and sighed a deep breath. A loud rumbling in his ears as rage coursed through his veins. His hands curled into shaking fists pressed against his temples as he fell to his knees. He held his breath until forced to gasp, fighting to regain his composure, groaning as he suppressed the urge to release a violent outburst. Watching her walk to the fridge was playing over and over in his mind, echoes of the conversation running randomly in circles. It was the one moment in the whole evening where he wasn’t in control and it burned deeply inside his being. Gradually the anger passed and he was able to uncurl his fingers. His mind falling silent, easing him back to a sense of calm.
He wiped the tears from his face, sitting on his knees shaking mildly, reassuring himself that the evening was a success. He slowly stood up and locked the door, remembering her pretty face just before she left, then quietly gathered the pots from the dining table.
© Lord Stabdagger 2017