Best Served Cold

By Kurt Hohmann

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Maybe I should feel guilty. I don’t. She really did have it coming. But you know that.

Try the shrimp. That’s a wasabi crust; the dipping sauce is orange-ginger.

Where to begin? You know, things used to be really good between us. Effie and I were together six years. And up until the last couple months, everything seemed great. Sure, we had our ups and downs, like everybody, but we always worked them out. Until he came along.

You okay with me not using his name? Yeah, I figured you would be. It’s childish, I know, but I can’t bring myself to say it. It grates on me that much.

Anyway, Effie comes home one day and announces that her boss is dead and gone. Terrible thing. I’d always thought Grant was a good guy; he let her do her job and kept the bean-counters off her back. I guess he died in his sleep. Massive coronary. She was sure she’d have to look for another job.

Then he shows up. New boss, new routines. At first, I didn’t think anything of it. When Effie started putting in longer hours, I figured it was all part of the normal process. She had job security; everything was okay.

Taste this. Tomato bisque with roasted garlic and pesto. Amazes me how many people never move beyond the stuff in the can.

Most people in my position, they get some hint of what’s going on. But me? Totally in the dark till about two weeks ago. I hadn’t seen Effie for more than a few minutes in passing for three, four days, and thought I’d surprise her at work. You know, take her out for lunch, give her a short break. You can probably guess what happened.

Right there, in the office. Her bent over the desk, papers scattered all over the floor. Him grunting and wheezing like he’s about to blow a gasket.

Sorry, not a good image while we’re trying to eat.

I could have run in there, grabbed the bastard, kicked his ass and had it out with Effie. But something held me back, and you know? I’m glad it did. I just slipped back out the door, and they never even noticed me.

This next dish is a smoked duck breast; I finished it with a wild currant chutney. Nice, eh?

Anyway, once I knew, I had to figure out what to do. Effie actually gave me the idea.

She came home that night, early enough that we had a chance to talk for once. She told me a competitor had offered her a better position. Both of them. They were going to jump ship together. Almost twice the salary. A real sweet deal, and she wanted to celebrate.

She said the two of them were headed to Manhattan in a week to fill out some paperwork, do the standard HR routine, and meet with the board. She didn’t mention that they’d be celebrating with a lot more than a high five, but I already knew that.

I went all out to wine and dine her that weekend, a full seven course Italian feast. Antipasto, almond-crusted calamari, stuffed meatballs in vodka-cream sauce, I just kept it coming. After dessert, I even cracked open the bottle of absinthe we’d been saving for a special occasion. Halfway through the bottle, she passed out cold.

But I wasn’t done. I grabbed her fresh out of the shower the next morning and gave her the massage of a lifetime. I got all the kinks out of those tense muscles in her neck and shoulders, and worked that oil into every inch of her skin, leaving her smooth and supple.

We were both smiling when she kissed me goodbye. She was headed to the office for some final prep before jumping on a plane that night. The next day, she assured me, was a done deal. We’d be on easy street. I changed the locks before she’d been gone five minutes.

See how flaky that sea bass is? People always overcook fish. The sweet chili glaze is what really makes it.

The process server I’d hired was waiting for her at the airport when she got back. I’m guessing she was pretty surprised, given how much attention I’d focused on her before she left. Just the first surprise of many.

So very unexpected, when a corporate climber like my Effie fails a drug test so miserably. But then, the wormwood in absinthe does a fine job of covering the bitterness of heroin. And she was too drunk to notice what I was – and more importantly what I was not – sharing with her.

After she passed out that night, I visited her office to set up the camera and take care of a few loose ends. Of course, I tipped off the old firm. See, the two of them had been planning to string things along until the very end, quietly cleaning out client accounts and sensitive data right up until they both gave notice. Now they’re locked out and fired.

More wine?

See, I had to do something different with him. Luckily, Effie wanted me to plan a party for after the trip, so she’d already told me all about his little allergy. On Sunday, it was so gratifying to watch the video of him lapping up every inch of her skin. All that cold-pressed peanut oil I’d massaged into every pore. I heard he was too sick to even get on the plane, right? Certainly didn’t stop Effie from going.

And then of course, I called you. I thought you’d also want a copy of that video, though I’ll admit I was a bit nervous, not knowing how much I might upset you. Funny, since the only thing that upset you was that I didn’t let you in on this until the end.

So here’s to unfaithful spouses and the simple joy of milking them dry!

Crème brûlée?

– Kurt Hohmann