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Chuckie Finn

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Chef's Surprise
By Chuckie Finn
Sunday, August 29, 2004

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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Have you ever wondered how it seems some people have all the luck?


We all know someone like a Richard Powers. Oh, the actual printed name on the mailbox outside his residence may be different depending on where you live, but it’s him. You know the man I speak of. The tall, perfectly proportioned one who seems to have all the money he needs and lives the carefree life you can only dream of having. He brags about his personal success and carefully describes the marvelous and expensive details of his other vacationing homes in some tropical paradise. He always appears to be in excellent health and possesses a bounce in his step that is without worry. Each time you see him, you grit your teeth in anger as you witness that cheerful unblemished face and dazzling white smile. You are envious of the fact he possesses the uncanny ability to sleep with the most beautiful women in the world with a wave of his hand.

You may shake your head or even scratch your stubble ridden bearded face wondering how the hell he does it. Deep down inside, you resent him. Maybe secretly, you have even wished a desire to be just like him. His whimsical wishes become reality, while the simplest of your aspirations seem to flounder in a personal fantasy wasteland which will never come true . You loathe his festive carefree lifestyle because you are a slave of the working class of society. He may have angered you and stirred your wrath because of the way he flaunts the ease of his successes in life. Yes, you are very jealous of Richard Powers. Envious of his unchallenged popularity and the company he attracts. Envious of materialistic pleasures that he lavishly bathes himself in. He is one of many such people who seem to be annoyingly blessed with having bestowed upon them the magical charm to have anything and everything they desire. Yes, Richard Powers has at his fingertips the things you can only dream of possessing.

I am sure you've met a man like Richard Powers sometime and somewhere in your life. Maybe you’ve seen his picture on the television with that award-winning smile that people naturally seem to be drawn to. He is the type of person everyone seems to attracted to. Perhaps he was the boy that sat next to you in one of your classrooms at school. You remember don't you? The teacher's pet student who always received an A with never opening a book. He could never do wrong and the faculty looked at him with smiling eyes. Yes, there are many people like Richard Powers in this world. More than you would probably think.

The man who chooses to be called Richard Powers lives in the house next to me and I despise him. His handsome well-dressed appearance angers every nerve fiber of my body. My hands firmly clench around the nearest object and I tighten my grip until my brusied and scarred knuckles turn white from my exertion each time I see that perfectly sculptured and unblemished body of his. The magic man with hypnotic eyes and a boyish face that never seems to age a day in contrast to the bursting capillaries which roadmap paths around my leathered cheeks. His jet-black hair is long and styled to perfection. Thick, lavish and full as a horse’s mane while my discolored hair continues to recede and thin out. Yes, I hate Richard Powers because compared to him, I am a pitiful failure. A luckless junkie who shudders each time the phone rings fearing it will be yet another reminder from creditors of payments overdue. Like ugly vultures they watch and wait for me to crumble, thereby enabling them to scavenger and pick clean everything I have slaved over to possess. Yet Richard Powers lives a life of luxury.


****************


The music of ice cream vendors in late afternoon were overtaking the neighborhood. I was working overtime and struggling with the recoil spring on a gasoline-powered engine. (Small engines can become such a nuisance when needle valves on carburetors become clogged with dirt and grime.) I caught a glimpse of his shadow from the corner of my eye. I gritted my teeth and pulled repeatedly harder on the starter cord until I was out of breath. I knew he was standing there observing me with his hands on his hips. He was silently laughing and basking in the futility of my labor.

“Why do you torture yourself and insist on fooling around with those dirty smelly things, Tom?” he shouted from his driveway. “It’s a Saturday evening and that means it's time to take ride to the Casino and win some more of their money. Last week I shook them down for around three thousand on the Blackjack table. That’ll pay for my upcoming two week cruise to St. Martin, and the other tropical islands" he said rocking on his heels. "Just think, Tom. While your here squeezing a tube of Ben-Gay ointment to soothe your aches and pains and covered in grass clippings and reek of gasoline, I’ll be dancing and pressing my body against some young sexy blonde under the stars on the afterdeck of a luxury liner. That is, until she begs me to take her to her cabin and make unrestricted passionate love to her all night." Richard Powers tossed his car keys high in the air and caught them in one hand without looking.

I grunted and struggled to stand erect on my feet. I twirled the tiny precision screwdriver in my hand wishing it was a claw hammer so I could plunge it into his happy go lucky heart. What I wouldn’t give to wipe that shit-eating phony smile of success off his face.

“No time for that sort of fun stuff,” I said a bit out of breath from my exertion. I wiped my forehead of sweat with the back of my arm. “I've got to get this last weed eater fixed for a customer so he can use it on Monday. So if you'll excuse me, Richard, some of us have to work for a living," I said sarcastically. I fumed as I knelt once again and turned my attention to the small engine.

“Pity,” he said clicking his tongue. “The good life is just passing you by, Tom. You are just a pathetic little man working to make someone else rich by the fruits of your labor.”

I thought I detected a note of sympathy in his tone of voice as he spoke. I viewed his facial expression from the corner of my eye. He smiled and playfully toyed with the keys to his new BMW automobile.

“Look what I drive, Tom," he said walking toward his vehicle. Beautiful isn’t she?” He extended both his arms and allowed his fingertips to gently glide over the well polished surface. He chuckled before he turned hs attention back to me.
“You drive a fifteen year old rusted piece of shit truck that barely starts in the morning. You’re married to a high mortgage payment each month and every night before you fall asleep, you're wondering if you'll have enough customers to pay next months bills."

I swallowed into a frozen throat. Deep inside I knew he was right. I shut my eyes and tried desperately to ignore his pastoral sermon.

"When’s the last time you had a long vacation, Tom? I mean a real one. One where you are treated like royalty. Wouldn't you enjoy a trip to Mexico and stay in a four star hotel where you can stroll the beach and sip Strawberry Margaritas and Bahama Mamas all day? Imagine dancing the evening away and then sleeping with the most gorgeous Latin women you have ever laid your eyes on. A long, long vacation from this present workaholic life-style you choose to suffer in, to one where you never have to worry about a credit card payment or a mortgage or the Internal Revenue Service.”

I licked my lips and I felt my throat constrict once again. I wanted to speak but the words died on my lips. I shrugged my shoulders. I felt his murderous eyes burn through me and he laughed at my weakness. I stood up once again to face him. My brusied pride freed my tongue. "I don't have the time or the money for those sort of things. A man has to work somewhere and try to scrape together an honest living. I’m afraid I’m not at all like you and forunate enough to have been born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Maybe you inherited a lot of monetary assets from your ancestors, and you're having one hell of a time spending it, but I was born and raised where jobs and money were scarce. Many nights we all went to sleep crying because we were hungry for food. I was never lucky enough in life like you to have anything handed to me for nothing and been given a free ride."

Richard Powers snickered in a condescending manner and placed his hands on his hips. "You have got to make your own luck in this world. You have to reach out for opportunities and take them as they present themselves to you, Tom. If you ignore those chances, then you'll continue to live your life like a chained slave making someone else look good. You'll die a poor man."

I curled my lips and sneered at him and took a step forward. "I’ve never once seen you get your hands dirty, Mr. Powers," I said defiantly. "Some folks are more fortunate than others are and get all the breaks at the right time. I’m just not lucky enough to know the right people,” I said turning away from him. I bent down and resumed working on the engine once again. I suddenly felt ashamed of myself and by my lack of skill to be as successful as Richard Powers.

“It has nothing to do with the things you mention, Tom. You can achieve anything you want in life. All you have to do is ask the right person,” Richard said with a smile. He opened the door to his BMW. “You think about it, Tom. Think about never aging another day. Think about being young again and never have an ache or pain ever again. Think about having a perfect body and stronger than you have ever been in your entire life. Think about having all the money you could ever possibly want or need in a hundred lifetmes. Think about being irresistible in the eyes of any women. You can have any or all of them at your feet when you snap your fingers in your own personal paradise. Think about sipping the best, most expensive champagne on any ocean cruise liner or romantically sitting with a gorgeous redhead on a park bench in Paris, or Rome, or lying naked on a sun drenched beach on your own private island. Think about it, Tom. Women of all nations race and color and religion, and each one of them feverish to please just you. Anywhere in the world you want to be at a blink of an eye and most importantly, you’ll never, ever ….die.”

He started the car and pushed the power button which lowered the driver's side window automatically. The surging fear of the unknown enveloped me as he riveted his eyes to mine. I swallowed into a frozen throat.

“I see you are confused by the way I live, Tom, and how I came about my good fortune,” he chuckled. “I’m not one to run the rat race of a nine to five job behind a desk everyday. Let it be known, some capitalistic market does not employ me. However, let me assure you, I am a professional chef of sorts. Not the culinary kind you’d see in a restaurant, but a different unique breed. For invited guests who come to share the experience, I prepare feasts from unique and special recipes handed down from countless generations of my kind. After all, what is cooking without experimentation with the "Gift of Life" as your Red Cross calls it. You see Tom, by ingesting a specially prepared blend of variious blood plasma and organ parts, you people can achieve what your kind refer as to immortality. By drinking my special chef concoctions of other blood types from people around the world, you can be a success at anything you desire. Yes Tom, as I am evidence, we make our own good fortune.”

I wrinkled my forehead and knitted by eyebrows in disbelief of what I was hearing. I once again stood erect. My knees felt weak and shakey. I involuntarily tightened my grip on the tiny screwdriver once again. “Vampirism?” I asked struggling with the concept at first. My voice quaked as the word tumbled over my lower lip.

He smiled and gunned the engine. “Think about it, Tom. Before a useless life passes you by. You can become one of us. Just look around you closely and observe the happy faces of success. See and experience what you're missing.”

I watched him as he squealed his tires as he backed his car out of the driveway and sped off. The evening sky has chased away the last bit of sunset and the street lights came one. My smile widened as I stooped down and rummaged through my toolbox. It appeared my luck had ideally changed. I raised my trophy and admired my good fortune in locating it. Indeed, it was in there. I had hoped I had a large enough screwdriver with a solid wooden handle to welcome Mr. Powers when he returned home.



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Reviewed by Nickolaus Pacione 9/3/2004
This is a bit sick. Good story but a bit sick. You got some imagination you got going here with this story -- this will take you far.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 8/30/2004
Nice write, Chuckie! Well done!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your Tx. friend, Karen Lynn. :D
Reviewed by Shirley Cheng 8/29/2004
Wow, I like the ending! Good job with the clever write! I like it. :)
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 8/29/2004
Very well written Chunckie...you never let ther reader down...images are great and story as vivd as can be!!

Love Tinka


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