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. . . A Dessert to Die for

by Nicholas Kleinhenz 11 months ago in Short Story
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A story of the hunter becoming the hunted.

. . . A Dessert to Die for
Photo by Umesh Soni on Unsplash

Detective Chris received a phone call from Detective Marzetti. When he answered the phone, she sounded mildly distressed. His presence had been specifically requested on the scene of a mysterious death. He arrived at the scene in no more than fifteen minutes only to find out that the investigation had already been wrapped up.

Detective Chris knelt down and unzipped the body bag that encased the deceased. Much to his surprise, the deceased was none other than his informant, Jerry. His mind began to race wildly. How could this have happened? Who was the culprit? What was the cause of death? Detective Chris began to carefully re-examine the events of their meeting earlier that day.

Detective Chris and his informant sat at the corner booth in the back of Moe’s Chill & Grill quietly discussing the most recent case. Their usual waitress was flying solo today and had not yet gotten around to taking their order. Despite being a small diner in the heart of the greater Chicago metropolitan area, Moe’s was packed today. The reason for this was the billboard outside which read: “Come Try a Savory Slice of Moe’s Delicious Chocolate Cake . . . It’s Simply to Die for!”

“Think she’ll take our order soon?” Jerry asked the Detective impatiently.

“You must be starving.” Detective Chris replied. “Normally you’re not so impatient with Hailee.”

“I haven’t eaten all day,” Jerry said woefully. “even a soda would be nice at this point.”

“They should’ve staffed the place better for a promotional menu item.”

Just as they were beginning to grumble about the long wait, Hailee strolled over to their table. “Hey, fellas, the usual?”

“Well, hey there, Miss Hailee!” Jerry exclaimed with a wink. “I was beginning to think that you weren’t gonna grace us with your presence today. I’ll have my usual.”

Hailee giggled at his reaction. “Yeah, we’ve been slammed all day. For you, Detective?”

“Hailee, please don’t refer to me as a detective. I’ll just take a black coffee.”

“Everyone can tell.” Hailee rebutted. “You come into a small diner like this wearing a nice suit and you’re bound to turn some heads. Y’all wanna try a slice of our chocolate cake? I’m told it’s delicious, but I don’t eat sweets.”

“You’re diabetic, right?” Detective Chris asked.

“How’d you know?” Hailee asked.

“Detective’s intuition.” Jerry interjected. The three had a good laugh at this as Hailee walked away to get their drinks and put their order in. Like always, Jerry leaned to the side and watched as she walked away from the table.

“Pervert.” Detective Chris said aloud.

“Can’t help it.” Jerry said sheepishly. “The way that girl walks is absolutely entrancing.”

“Anyway, back to the case at hand.” Detective Chris said attempting to steer the conversation in a more serious direction.

“Right, right,” Jerry said sitting back upright in his seat. He pulled a small envelope out from his jacket pocket and slapped it onto the table in front of Detective Chris. “here’s everything you need to bust the man that murdered your wife.”

Hailee had returned with a cup of black coffee and a water for Jerry. “Be back with your food shortly.”

Detective Chris was too occupied with reading the information in the envelope to notice that Jerry had began leaning again. The killer’s name was Ivan Molchalin and, previously unbeknownst to Detective Chris, he had ties to the Russian Mafia. Detective Chris now had pictures of Molchalin as well as a rough prediction of his schedule and his home address.

“This is why I like you, Jerry.” Detective Chris said as he lifted his cup to sip the piping hot coffee. “You’re very thorough.”

“That information took me months to gather. I had to pay a certain disreputable info broker an arm and a leg to help me out.” Jerry said quietly.

“Name your price for this and I’ll reimburse you for the money spent on the info broker as well.” Detective Chris offered.

“With all due respect, this one’s on the house. Molchalin murdered your wife. I’m not gonna take your money for that.”

“If you insist, but don’t forget that I offered.”

Jerry waved his hand in the air in a gesture that seemed to say, “Yeah, yeah.” He then took a drink of his water. “Anyway, what do you plan on doing with that information?”

“I’m going after Molchalin.” Detective Chris said grimly.

“You’re going after Molchalin?” Jerry repeated, raising his voice in surprise.

A passing busboy dropped the bus tub full of dishes he was carrying. As the dishes in the bus tub clattered to the floor, the bus boy glared in Jerry’s direction. The restaurant patrons broke out in an intense bravado of clapping and laughter. Detective Chris noticed that the sneers and jeers of the customers did not seem to embarrass the bus boy. He simply crouched down to pick up his bus tub without uttering a single word. The bus boy’s strange reaction gave Detective Chris a strange feeling in his gut.

“Man, I feel bad for that guy.” Jerry said after the restaurant patrons calmed down. “I didn’t mean to startle the poor fella.” The bus boy returned with a broom and dust pan to sweep up the debris and food particles left from the incident. “Hey, sorry I startled you before.” Jerry said apologetically.

The bus boy grinned and waved the apology off without a word.

Hailee returned to the table as the bus boy was heading back toward the kitchen. “I see you’ve finished your meal. Let me take that back to the kitchen for ya.”

“What’s his story?” Detective Chris asked, gesturing toward the bus boy.

“He’s only worked here about a month, but he seems like a nice guy. He’s really quiet and always keeps to himself. I’ve never seen him drop a single dish though.”

“I think I scared him a bit with my outburst.” Jerry said sheepishly.

“No,” Detective Chris said abruptly. “that’s not it. I have a weird feeling about him.”

“He’s just another teenager like me trying to get by in this vicious city. He’s been working so hard trying to stand out here at Moe’s. He even came up with the slogan for our chocolate cake promotion.” Hailee assured. “Speaking of which, we have one slice left for the day, would you guys like some dessert?”

“I’ll have that.” Detective Chris said quickly.

“Aw, man, you know I was looking forward to that.” Jerry complained. “Give me a piece of your cheesecake, I guess.”

“I’ll get those right out to you.” Hailee said with a smile.

“Was that a dirty joke?” Detective Chris asked, narrowing his eyes at Jerry.

“Not at all!” Jerry exclaimed as he leaned over again. “Scout’s honor.”

“I don’t believe that one bit.”

“I wouldn’t be so bold.”

Hailee returned to the table a few minutes later with a slice of cheesecake and a large slice of chocolate cake decorated with chocolate frosting and a maraschino cherry on top. The crowd in the diner was beginning to die down now. The normal lunch rush had ended and the surge from the promotional chocolate cake had tapered off as well. Hailee sat down in the booth next to Detective Chris to catch her breath and the scowl on Jerry’s face seemed to say, “No fair!”

“That was one helluva lunch rush.” Hailee said with an exhausted tone in her voice. “I made a lot of money though!”

“Is the promotional item worth it?” Detective Chris asked.

“Totally!” Hailee exclaimed as she counted her cash. “You should try it.”

“No, thanks.” Detective Chris replied as he slid the plate across the table. “I ordered this for Jerry.”

Jerry slid the slice of cheesecake across the table without argument. “If you insist.”

“You fellas sure are weird.” Hailee said.

“It’s part of our charm.” Jerry said as he shoveled a slice of chocolate cake into his mouth. After swallowing, he flashed her a toothy grin with chocolate visibly covering the inside of his mouth.

“Clearly your table manners aren’t part of the charm.” Hailee said with a chuckle. “Detective, why aren’t you eating? Normally you’re scarfing down plates of food like a professional eater.”

“I guess I’m not very hungry today.” Detective Chris replied.

“He gets like this when he has something on his mind. His relentless pursuit of evidence and truth is the only thing that can overcome his typical insatiable hunger.” Jerry said offering an explanation.

“Oh, I see! You’ve got a big case you’re thinking about.” Hailee exclaimed.

“Sort of.” Detective Chris said. “Can we get our check?”

“Sure thing.” Hailee said standing up obediently. “I’ll bring a to-go box for the cheesecake as well.”

“Thanks.” Detective Chris said as she walked away.

Jerry was too enthralled with consuming his slice of chocolate cake to lean out of the booth this time. “So what next?” he asked with his mouth full.

Detective Chris lowered his voice. “I’m going home to shred these documents and keep this information between us. The agency doesn’t need to know, so I won’t add any of this to my report. They’ll only get in my way by trying to arrest Molchalin.”

“Just be careful. You could be knocking on death’s door, Detective.”

Hailee returned with the check and a to-go box. “How was the chocolate cake?” she asked.

“Absolutely to-die-for!” Jerry raved. “Worth every penny.”

“Well, the bus boy insisted on picking up your tab since he dropped the bus tub next to your table. He apologized for the inconvenience and wanted you to know that it will never happen again.” Hailee said. “I assured him that it was no big deal, but he insisted I relay that message.”

“Give him my regards.” Detective Chris said as he stood up to leave. He had slid a twenty dollar bill into the booklet that Hailee had brought to the table.

Jerry followed suit. “Have a great rest of your day, Hailee. See you tomorrow!” he cooed as they approached the door.

“You know I’ll be here” Hailee said with a smile.

The men shook hands outside Moe’s diner and parted ways.

“Detective?” Detective Marzetti said, pulling Detective Chris out of his thoughts. “You were the last person seen with the deceased. If you cannot offer any helpful information about the crime, then we’ll have no choice but to investigate your relationship with the deceased.”

“Come on, Marzetti, you know I wouldn’t do this. Why would I knock off my own informant?”

“I know, but the higher-ups want me to take you in for questioning.” Marzetti explained as she pulled out her handcuffs.

“I’ll come willingly. I have nothing to hide.” Detective Chris said.

She locked the handcuffs around his wrist. “Just a precaution.”

Detective Chris sat in the interrogation room at Precinct One awaiting an autopsy report from the coroner. Once they knew the cause of death, then he would be able to catch a glimpse of the killer and their M.O. For some reason, Detective Chris couldn’t stop thinking about that slice of chocolate cake. The image of it kept flashing in and out of his mind. His gut feeling had told him not to eat it, and he had given it to Jerry under the guise of a kind gesture.

Detective Marzetti entered the room and closed the door behind her. “Autopsy report came back and I have some further questions for you.”

“The bus boy at Moe’s is your killer. I suspect that he has ties to the Russian Mafia.” Detective Chris said sharply. “Jerry was poisoned, wasn’t he?”

“He was poisoned, but how could you know all of that if you didn’t poison him yourself?” Detective Marzetti reasoned.

“Because that poisoned slice of chocolate cake was meant for me.”

Short Story

About the author

Nicholas Kleinhenz

Aspiring author.

I write horror stories.

That's all you need to know.

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