(Author's note: The following is an official entry into the 2009 Literotica Halloween Story Contest. Please note that this story falls into the non-erotic category. This tale is the result of a perverted and morbid idea I experienced early the night before I composed this. It is not intended to excite, but rather to cringe. With all that said, read on, if you dare.)
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In the culinary field, there were few who could match Anthony Leach. Though English by birth, he had gained fame in the United States, where his gastronomic masterpieces had been hailed for their sensory perfection for decades. Working in – and in some cases, owning – some of the finest venues for his craft, Anthony was the grand old man of his field. Such as Emeril and Booby Flay tossed sauté pans in his shadow.
Even in retirement, his reputation was well known. Some say he had become a touch senile, for he always invited the finest chefs in New York for a Halloween repast that was beyond measure. They asked him, "why Halloween?" His response was, "all the other good holidays were taken."
The kitchen of his house was the envy of any four-star gourmet restaurant, with the finest stainless steel appliances, walk-in freezer and cooler, and enough counter space to prepare a dozen meals at once. The cabinets were filled with all manner of fresh spices, many of them rare and expensive, and every form of cooking utensil and container. A master of the unusual when it came to cuisine, his guests could always look forward to something delightful and different, from fresh conch served with a cilantro-chile bean salsa to delicate puffer fish sushi, the fish in question residing peacefully in their tank until he needed them.
"But not this year," he had said to one of his guests several days before, when he had sent out invitations. "I am going classic this Halloween. I am preparing a true carnivorous feast. No vegetarians allowed." He had ended his declaration with a wink.
His young wife – just under half his age and the fourth woman to bear the coveted title of Mrs. Leach – had spent the previous days in assisting her husband and happily so, for she was a culinary professional herself and her restaurant – and skill – had both benefited from association with the famed chef.
This year's feast was to be absolutely unique, Anthony had decided. The meat had to be prepared carefully, to maximize both its fatty content for flavor, and the lean, strong muscle for tenderness. He wanted to insure this was the best bird he had ever prepared. Normally, he did not prepare the entire thing, but he desired complete perfection, both literally and figuratively. So not jus.t the breasts and thighs, but also the whole of the legs, the neck, belly and even head.
"Sandra, be a dear and get me the skewers?" he called to his wife as he sliced thigh meat. The aromas wafting from the baked flesh were all but intoxicating in their headiness.
His wife did not answer with words; she knew better, Anthony knew, than to speak when he was preparing a masterpiece. He always trusted her to assist him with professional decorum, knowing he did not mean his mannerisms as any sort of rudeness.
Leaving the thigh meat for a moment, he returned to the stove where simmered a trio of sauces which included his patented spicy mole, a creamy lemon butter sauce made with Franciscan Chardonnay, and of course, the world famous Anthony Leach D'Avola demi glace, which enhanced the flavor of any red meat.
Adding the last touches of spices to the various sauces, he set them on low heat just as the door chimed. While he was certainly wealthy enough, and his house large enough, to afford a butler, Anthony Leach had always considered servants to be the mark of pretentious laziness.
Wiping his hands, he walked briskly from the kitchen through the hall to the front door, opening it wide with a grin. He gasped slightly as a small carved pumpkin was thrust in his face.
Anthony stepped back with a chuckle, making room for his first pair of guests, Mr. and Mrs. James Polk. One of the most infamous food critics of the late twentieth century, Polk had once offered the following unique appraisal of Anthony's skill in the kitchen: "I will forever be happily resigned to the fact that I shall never have anything detrimental to say about Mr. Leach. He takes culinary risks others would shy from, yet masters them with unique aplomb."
Polk and his wife were nearly of Anthony's advanced age, but they had entered into their sixties with graceful aplomb. Dietitians and plastic surgeons were, of course, to be thanked for that. The dutiful Mrs. Polk offered a hand glittering with diamonds and other gemstones for the master chef, who kissed her fingers politely.
"I can always count on you to maintain the spirit of the season," Anthony remarked as his first guests entered the house. He set the miniature jack-o-lantern on the secretary within the hall.
Polk sniffed the air and crinkled his brow in wonder. "Is that pork I smell?" he asked, then all but looked upon Anthony with a fawning expression. "Oh, please tell me you are serving your award-winning bacon-wrapped scallops!"
Anthony chuckled with a wink. "Your keen nose betrays you," he said. "In fact, I am preparing the most delicious bird this evening."
"You will have to wait and see," Anthony said as he took his guests' coats. "Go on and fix yourself a drink in the parlor. The others should be arriving soon."
Leaving the Polks as they headed down the hall, Anthony returned to the kitchen, inhaling the scents of his creation upon stepping through the door. For a moment, he savored the aromas, before resuming his preparations.
The thigh meat was finished and layered, and he was just setting the poached, fluffy pieces of breast meat in place when the chime sounded again. The guests this time were Representative Alfonso and his second wife, who offered congenial salutations along with a bottle of fine Chilean wine.
"Ah! Cabernet," Anthony remarked. "And a 1993, no less. Fine choice."
Alfonso smiled and clapped the gastronome's shoulder. "I may have no skill in the kitchen, but I know a good wine."
"You certainly do," agreed Anthony. "Please, to the parlor. I am almost finished, and there are yet more guests to arrive."
When he was interrupted for the third time, it was by the DeRenzos, famed owners of a small but exclusive chain of restaurants in their name. Not only the patriarch and his wife arrived, but also their comely young daughter, Nichole. Anthony bent low to kiss the young woman's hand as they were introduced.
"I must apologize," he said to the family before departing for the kitchen once more. "Normally, my wife plays the host, but I have put her to work, slave driver that I am." He winked disarmingly. "Go on and mingle. The meal will be ready in short order."
Everything was finished by a quarter before nine o'clock, the optimum time for such a sumptuous feast in Anthony's opinion. He needed his largest serving cart, upon which he arranged the various serving platters, keeping everything carefully organized so as to maximize both the aesthetic appearance of the meal as well as to preserve its natural harmony.
But all was not yet ready, though Anthony remained mindful of his guests.
"Is it ready?" asked Polk as Anthony reappeared in the parlor, carrying a silver serving tray.
The aged gastronome chuckled. "Not quite," he responded. "But I have brought an appetizer. A teaser, if you will, of the sensory joy to come."
The guests surrounded him in a semi-circle, looking eagerly upon the items displayed upon the tray. Thinly-sliced slivers of braised meat dominated the center, arrayed in a rather suggestive fashion with a single blossomed radish at the top. The aroma was rich and suggestive of rosemary.
"What do you call this?" asked the statesman, leaning over the platter.
"This one is Rosemary's Lips," Anthony said to Alfonso. He took a cocktail fork and stabbed one of the slender pieces. "Perhaps the sweetest part of my wonderful bird."
He looked to the young DeRenzo daughter, who stared back with the blushing demureness of a young doe. "To the fairness of youth goes the first taste."
The girl smiled sweetly, cheeks reddening as she was suddenly made the center of attention. "If you insist," she whispered, delectably leaning forward and parting lush red lips.
"I certainly do," Anthony replied, slipping the savory tidbit onto the girl's tongue. He watched as the Alfonso daughter experimentally chewed, then beamed. She swallowed timidly.
"It's delicious," she declared.
Anthony grinned proudly. "Of course it is," he said, handing the platter off.
Mr. DeRenzo stepped conspiratorially close to the master chef as the others sampled and commented on the appetizer. "A tad suggestive, don't you think? The way that dish was laid out, well . . . it somewhat resembles a, um, woman's area, if you know what I mean."
Anthony chuckled. "Do you think that was accident?" he asked rhetorically. "What sweeter part of a woman is there?"
DeRenzo smirked and nodded. "Too true," he agreed. "Well, I had better sample some of it myself before it is gone."
Anthony glanced to the kitchen door. "If you can bear another short wait, I will see if my wonderful wife has another tantalizing appetizer for our bunch."
The other man's eyes sparkled. "Then I won't keep you."
Returning to the kitchen, Anthony checked the ovens and the sauces, deciding all was nearly ready. He took up another serving platter, carefully transferring the finely-ground contents of a steel bowl into it. Surrounding the pate with crackers, he returned to the parlor.
"I did not think those sweet lips would sate you enough for the time being," he said to his guests as the platter lead the way into the room. His comment resulted in sedate chuckles from his finger-licking guests.
"So what is this?" asked Mrs. Polk, eying the new dish speculatively.
"My finest pate," Anthony replied. "Finely-minced liver, with orange peel and ginger, mixed with my own secret seasoning." He winked to the matronly woman. "I dare say it will not last until the main course, but it will satisfy and leave you begging for more."
"Ooo . . . ."
Anthony stepped back, prideful heart beating as his guests all but set upon the new treat like vultures upon a fresh kill. His return to the kitchen was scarcely noticed. The pate was all that occupied them, inspiring more moans, murmurs, and comments of approval.
Once more within the center of his abode, the room within which his skill was honed, Anthony clapped his hands and took a deep breath. This will be the finest feast in all of history, he thought. It is nearly a shame it can be enjoyed by only a few.
Ah, well . . . .
"Sandra, is the table prepared?"
His wife said nothing, but he took her mute expression as confirmation.
"Then let us impress our guests, shall we?"
Together, Anthony Leach and his wife entered the dining room, the far wall of which opened into the parlor, where mingled the chef's guests. They turned with gluttonous anticipation upon hearing the cumbersome rolling of the large cart. Eyes widened and mouths watered. Everyone wanted to know what awaited them beneath the large sheet covering the cart.
"If we are ready, ladies and gentlemen," Anthony prompted loudly. He rubbed his hands together in anticipation.
"Good God, man, what have you got under there?" asked Polk, eyes glimmering widely.
"In the artistic sense, the most unique and incomparable dining experience you will ever enjoy," Anthony responded with a proud glow. "But if you prefer technical details . . . sixty-two pounds of salaciously sumptuous meat, after the bones were removed. But that is not counting my famous asparagus au gratin, acorn squash mashed potatoes, and of course, my own Black Forest cake."
Mrs. DeRenzo's eyes bulged. "Did you say 'bird?' What sort of bird?" she asked. "Ostrich?"
Anthony frowned with a wry smile and shook his head. "I would not do such a thing," he declared. "Such gangly, ugly things, ostriches. No, this is the finest bird my adoptive country could hope to produce. And --"
With a flourish, he gripped the sheet and whipped it away, trailing steam and allowing the rich, bountiful aromas to roll through the air. The feast in all its glory was fully revealed to Anthony's guests.
"-- I have my beautiful wife to thank for the inspiration."
Eyes once filled with salivating expectation for a memorable feast now became horrified and morbid as they witnessed the sight before them. While the flesh had been denuded from the bone and prepared in various ways, the platters upon which the meat lay had been carefully laid out to mimic the position of a human corpse in repose. The arms and legs looked inauspicious enough, and could have passed for finely-prepared pork tenderloin.
But upon the central large platter lay the poached breasts of Mrs. Anthony Leach, the flesh puffed and glistening, nipples darkened and delicately flowered, sitting like tiny red roses upon the meat. Beneath those fleshy mounds were the various organs, darkened from roasting and prepared in numerous ways, but laid out in familiar patterns. Even the chitlin-like intestine wound a serpentine path beneath a bulging, haggis-like stomach and between stewed kidneys simmering quietly in bowls of broth.
The only thing not revealed was the head of the dead woman. But where it would have lain existed a large steel dome over a platter.
"I-Is that," began the young DeRenzo girl, pointing with a shaking hand. "Is th-that--"
Anthony looked to where the young woman pointed and smiled. "Oh! Of course! I cannot forget the best part!" He reached for the domed lid and lifted it away. "Head cheese!"
Men and women alike swooned and balked, stumbling away. Several regarded Anthony Leach with abject horror. They backed slowly away, inching for the door.
Anthony watched them, frowning in confusion. How could they not admire my greatest creation? My most delectable feast?
He stepped around the table, plaintively approaching those who now back-pedaled down the hall. "You're not leaving, are you?" he cried. "What about desert?"
"Desert?" shrieked Mrs. Polk, recoiling in terror.
"Of course! Chilled brains. Utterly fantastic!" Anthony kissed his fingertips. "I know they may not sound very tempting – brains are an acquired taste, I understand – but I have prepared them according to an ancient Borneo recipe. It took days, but they are perfect! As sweet and malleable as jelly!"
Mrs. Polk gasped and fainted, but was fortuitously caught by her husband, who dragged his wife swiftly down the corridor. In short order, everyone was gone, leaving the front door gaping open. The squealing of tires soon sounded from the large driveway of the house. Forlorn, Anthony watched from the stoop as his guests fled. His heart sunk heavily, even as he shook an angry fest in the chilly air.
"Well, the Devil take you, then!" he snarled viciously. "Just remember that I offered to share my wife with the lot of you! Now I'll have to eat her all by myself!"
Anthony huffed, perturbed, returning to the now-quiet dining room. The rich aromas of the would-be feast swirled about him as he took his seat at the head of the table. His face became sour and drawn. Absently, he touched the polished silverware flanking the plate before him, then let out a heavy sigh and straightened.
"It appears it is just you and I tonight, my dear," he said aloud, looking to the large cart upon which his wife-cum-feast lay. "That seems to have become the norm for us lately, hasn't it?"
Sandra, of course, did not respond. Anthony stared at the darkened flesh, noting the way his wife's lips, during baking, had become puffed and juicy in a way they had never been in life. Casually, he removed a plug or Gruyere cheese from one of the nostrils and popped it into his mouth.
"I suppose it is true, what they say," he remarked wistfully. "Genius is never appreciated by the masses. Where would we be without that first brave soul who deigned to dine on lobster? Or almonds? Or any number of other potential gastronomic disasters? We would be in culinary hell, that's where." He eased back and stared at the ceiling.
"Of course, the only drawback to all this," he mused at last, casting a wistful glance to his erstwhile wife's honey-glazed face. "Is that I can't ask you for my cigar after dinner."
(Thanks for reading. I hope I haven't ruined anyone's appetite for the Halloween season. Please don't forget to vote, and feel free to leave a comment below..)