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Deception Might Not Pay Off…

Secrets

By Karen EastlandPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 8 min read
1
Mike Mancccini

Experiencing the painful effects of Kidney Stones, twenty years ago, Mike was prescribed penicillamine to help him through his illness. However, one extremely rare side effect left him with ageusia, the inability to taste.

'Of all the senses to go,' Mike thought bitterly, daily, 'it had to be taste.'

An avid food lover and employed as a food critic, the loss resulted in the eventual loss of his job. Every meal was a plate of cardboard, and going out to dinner with friends was always a game of roulette, because Mike also had a peanut allergy. It hadn't been a serious problem before his loss of taste, but now, peanut oil, peanut shavings, even bloody artificial nuts, were being included in most of his favourite dishes.

Mike was a proud single man in his forty's. He prided himself on it, and for years, he kept his allergy to himself. He wore a well-hidden medical warning on a silver necklace and always carried an EpiPen in his top pocket, tucked and hidden away beneath his jacket. Had he made his conditions known to his friends... well, let's see what happens...

Mike, he was all about secrecy, and his pride would lead to his undoing, as the prideful inevitably do.

Having received an invited to a seafood restaurant from a friend--his cliche of friends had diminished since his diagnosis--Mike prepared for a night of deception.

He underestimated his friendships, believing instead should they know about his conditions, they would eventually stop asking him to join them. Or, they'd invite him out of pity... a pity within his own imagination. Mike feared an anaphylactic shock reaction if even a dash of peanut oil was used in his meals, but still he couldn't make himself tell his friends.

No, Mike didn't want to ruin a night out with his friends treading on eggshells because of him.

He adjusted his necklace and lay it beneath his shirt, shivering as its cool metal touched his chest. He then ensured the bulk of his EpiPen was well hidden by folding a white hanky just so, to sit in the breast pocket of his suit jacket. Mike had a mental list. He constantly reminded himself of all the things he had to do to maintain his deception.

Ask the server my food not be cooked with peanut oil, he thought, 'cause I don't like the taste.

Once he was sure he was mentally prepared, Mike checked his EpiPen and necklace one last time before walking outside to climb into his old '92 Commodore.

Climbing into the driver's seat, he pumped the brakes a few times to get the fluid into the lines. He turned the key to accessory, pumped the accelerator just enough to not flood the carbie, but enough that when he turned the key, the ignition would ignite. Mike always parked his four on the floor on a slight incline, just in case he had to roll start it.

Not a Commodore

Yes, Mike was an enigma wrapped in an old car, wrapped in a fine suit, wrapped in a peanut shell, wrapped in cardboard. I guess tonight there might just be a little unwrapping going on.

His friends always greeted him fondly… after his imaginary girlfriend dropped him off. She was always too busy to join them, Mike told them.

"She's a flight attendant," he'd say with a forced laugh. "Always on her way to another country."

In reality, Mike parked his old car down a dark street on a slight incline, not too far from the restaurant, but far enough so his friends couldn't see it.

He was meticulous with his preparations when an invitation arrived. Always checked which restaurant. Evaluated the cost, retaining only the good memories from his food critic days. He made sure there was always somewhere to hide his car, and if everything didn't match up, he'd tell his friends he was with Anne--the girl-friend--but she had to fly out the next day. If he attended as requested, at the end of each dinner, and after his friends had a few drinks, they would call for the bill, then a taxi.

At that point, Mike would make his way to the toilets and wait. He couldn’t afford the meal, he could barely afford to eat at home, that's why he accepted the invitations, and was too embarrassed to tell anyone. So, he'd wait for his friends to pay, and only leave the toilets when the noise of the restaurant fell to silence. They'd forget about Mike… they always forgot about Mike.

'Out of sight, out mind, ay?'

That night's location was perfect. It had a large car park that was mostly in darkness. It had a quiet street along its edge that had a slight incline. He parked his car and walked to the restaurant. His friends were waiting for him out front. They walked in laughing and talking about their week, and Mike always had a delightful story at the ready.

As they were seated, the server handed out menus to everyone around the large oval table. Mike would shake, listening to the moments their orders were being taken. When the server reached him, he calmed himself and ordered the flaming prawns.

Not an oval table... not Mike's friends

'But please,' he whispered, 'make sure there's no peanut in the dish. Can't stand the taste.'

What a pitiful man Mike had become. So lost in his deception, he couldn't even tell the waiter the truth. He believed his tales kept him safe… kept him invulnerable to his truth.

The server took his order and attaching a special note about the peanuts.

When the server entered the kitchen, he showed the chef the instructions, and all was well, except the chef had a little too much brandy while making the Cape Brandy Pudding with Chantilly Cream and Strawberries.

Sort of looks like the kind of chef that could kill an unwitting diner through flamboyance alone

‘Oh No. Things were not looking good for our protagonist… wouldn't you say?’

Chef cooked Mike's meal along with his friends. He’d just tossed the prawns into the pan when he inadvertently bumped into the sauce and oil shelf sitting above the cooker.

Instead of allowing the mess to hit the floor, chef quickly caught them with the pan. Soy, vegetable oil, hot chilli sauce and peanut oil all landed in with the prawns, and each liquid had a drip spout, and dripped into the pan for seconds before chef could get them all out with his tongs.

"A little was all it would take, ay?"

Putting the pan back onto the gas flame, the chef cooked the sauces and oils into the prawns. Upon tasting one, he congratulated himself on such a wonderful dish, and jotted the ingredients down for the next time someone ordered the prawns.

The server didn't see the chef's acrobatics. He was in the restaurant taking more orders. When he came returned, Mike's table order was ready. Carrying four plates at a time, he'd worked his way down one side of the table until he reached Mike.

'You're certain there are no peanuts?' Mike asked, to which the server smiled, and quietly assured him he'd spoken with the chef.

Before taking a bite, Mike looked up and saw his friends, now silent, were looking at him. Feeling more than a little uncomfortable, he knew they were waiting for him to... Speak?

'What?" he asked jovially. "You know I hate peanuts," then stuck a fork into a succulent prawn, and ate it, and his friends returned to their conversations.

They were laughing and eating, and Mike was starving. He was glad his friends were preoccupied, but that’s when things took a turn for the worse. Mike swallowed the masticated prawn with ease, but a sudden constricted sensation began to grow in his throat.

He at first, tried to spit up the prawn, but his throat was so constricted he couldn't. A friend saw his distress, but by that time, Mike was already turning blue.

He rose from the table and tried to make it to the toilets to use his EpiPen, but the reaction to the peanut oil was immediate. Mike took two steps and fell to the ground. No-one knew what was happening. Some-one suggested he was having a heart attack, and the friend who saw him began chest compressions, mouth-to-mouth, anything, in an effort to keep him breathing, but Mike's face had swollen so much his friend could barely see his eyes.

"Call and ambulance," he yelled as Mike lay still gasping for breath.

ASCIA

He continued chest compressions, but felt something snap when he pushed down.

'Oh God,' he said. 'I think I broke a rib?'

'Don't worry 'bout that, keep going,' another of Mike’s friends said.

When he pushed down again, he pulled his hands back, and the colour drained from his face.

'I think… I think he's bleeding,' he said, and in a blind panic, tore open Mike's jacket.

Those watching on in horror saw a wet stain growing outwards from Mike's pocket.

"Not a rib," someone said, "don't stop now, mate."

"I’ve got emergency services on the line," the server said. " They’re on their way, now."

Mike’s friend tore his shirt front open and continued CPR. Panicked and frightened, he never saw Mike’s medical alert necklace as it slid down and settle behind his left ear. The side of his neck had swollen so much that all his friends could do was listen to his rattling, rasping, gasping reach for life as if it fast escaped his reach.

And that's it… That's what happened, Mike… Oh… and in case you were wondering, no… you never made it to the hospital. You died before the ambulance even turned its lights on. If only you could’ve tasted the peanuts or, if you had just told the truth, just once to somebody, you'd still be alive today… But ya not… you're down here with me, Mike… you're now my bestus bud ‘til the next sinner arrives… Oh… and here she is…

Experiencing the betrayal of a loved one is hard for anybody, but for Carol, it was deadly…

I do hope you enjoyed the story, could you drop a like and, share it with your friends? If your interests lie in a more paranormal vent, then why not read the Adventures of Millie and Sandra starting here. There are eight episodes in season one.

Mystery
1

About the Creator

Karen Eastland

Taking a holiday from Me

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