A Twist of Fate
It was Saturday morning. A clear and crisp day in southern California. The weather was a perfect seventy degrees. There was a soft gentle breeze blowing off the ocean. You could hear the birds singing in the trees. A black Mercedes Benz stretch limousine pulled up to the gate of a huge mansion. It was a beautiful twelve thousand square foot home in the Malibu section of Los Angeles. It was right on the coast, with the ocean as a perfect backdrop. The limo came through the gates, and up the winding road to the front of the house.
The front door opened, as the young black Chauffeur sprinted around the side of the car to open the rear door. Stepping out the back seat was Jean Pierre. His black Oxford shoes slowly stepped out the vehicle. He took a long look at the house and the landscaping, which were immaculate. He straightened out his tailor made suit and adjusted the gold cufflinks on his sleeves.
“Fetch my bags,” Jean said in a snappy tone to the young driver.
Jean is the finest chef on the west coast. At thirty years old, he opened the hottest restaurant in all of southern California. French food was his specialty, and no one did it better. His Blanquette de veau with cream sauce was to die for. He was from a very prominent mixed family. His father, a black labor attorney, was a senior partner with one of the most prestigious law firms in the state. His mother, a white woman, was the vice president of a software company. Jean was strikingly good looking. He was light-skinned, tall, athletic build, and clean shaven. He was use to the finer things in life. Being an only child he got whatever he wanted. Like for instance on his sixteenth birthday, his parents bought him an 850i BMW. He never wanted for anything. He attended the finest prep schools. He received his degree from Cornell University in culinary studies. He also studied overseas in Paris. This led to him believing that he was elite. He was pompous, arrogant, and a snob. He felt like the world revolved around him.
As the Chauffeur grabbed his belongings, an older looking white man came out to greet Jean. It was Richard Coleman, the owner of the house. Richard was a retired CEO of a brokerage firm in New York. He moved his family to Los Angeles four years ago. He and his wife had become very reclusive couple in their later years. He was a middle aged man, with tanned skin, and a receding hair line. He was wearing a polo style shirt, khaki short, and deck shoes with no socks.
“Jean I'm glad to see you made it,” he said walking up the driveway.
“Mr. Coleman, good to see you again.”
“Please, call me Dick,” he said giving Jean a firm handshake. “I hope the ride over was enjoyable.”
“It was okay, but your driver was late. I had to wait ten minutes,” Jean said tapping the face of his Cartier wrist watch.
“Not to worry. You're on my time now,” Dick said putting his arm around Jean's shoulder. “Jimmy, bring Jean’s bags down to the boat dock.
Dick had his own private secluded beach in back of the house. He had his own Yacht and boat dock back there.
“I'm glad you decided to accept my offer,” Dick said leading Jean to the ship.
“Well, normally I don't do private affairs, but I am intrigued. People don't normally offer me such large sums of money to personally cater a private cruise to a secluded island.”
“Well, this is a special trip for us. We take one once every year.”
“Why ? If you don't mind me asking.”
“I don't mind at all. My wife and I use to be thrill seekers and one of our past times was mountain climbing. We took ten of our friends and went on an expedition to climb MT Everest. We had a tragedy half way up the mountain. An avalanche almost killed us all. We were buried under eight foot of snow for about two weeks before we were finally rescued. Only eight of us made it out alive.”
“Yeah, you never know how precious life is, until it's hanging in the balance," he said with a slight smile.
“Precious. I don't know about that. We all die sooner or later,” he said in a smug fashion.
Dick turned and smiled. They made their way around the house and down the beach to the pier. The rest of the guests were standing there. They had already loaded up their belongings and were waiting for Dick and Jean to arrive.
“Let me introduce you to everyone,” said Dick looking at Jean.”This is Henry Wallace and his wife Hillary. They are from New York as well. They flew in for the weekend. This is Bill Stevens and his wife Thelma. They’re from Denver Colorado, which is probably why they like climbing so much. Ain't that right Bill?” Dick said letting out a slight chuckle. ”And last but not least, this is Hugh Albright and his wife Irene. They’re from Philly, but recently moved out to LA.”
Jean went around shaking everybody's hand half heartily and exchanging pleasantries. All of the other guess were middle aged like Dick. They were dressed in casual attire, shorts and t-shirts. Dick stepped through the pack of his friends and proceeded to show Jean on to the boat.
“C'mon my boy, let me show you my baby.” He led the way onto the ship.
“What kind of yacht is this?”
“It's a Hatteras 100, top of the line. It has seven staterooms, formal dining living areas, a lounge area, and a huge galley that should meet with your standards. I call her the Nightingale. Magnificent , isn't she ?”
“It's a fine ship Dick.” Said Jean as they climbed aboard.
Dick proceeded to give Jean a tour of the ship. He took him to the galley first. It had all of the culinary amenities that a chef would need. A subzero refrigerator with ice maker, a four burner glass cooktop, full size dishwasher, wine cooler, and a 30” convection oven. The counters were granite, and the cabinets were rich dark cherry wood. Jean look around with his nose up in the air pretending not be too terribly impressed.
“There's only four burners on this oven. I usually have eight.”
“I'm sorry Jean. This is what came with the ship.”
“I guess it'll do.”
Next, Dick took Jean to his sleeping quarters. It was luxurious to say the least. The suite had a king-sized bed. It had walk-in-cedar-lined-hanging lockers, wood paneling, and crown molding. It also had built in dresser, twin nightstands, and a full entertainment center with a 42” plasma T.V , CD/DVD player, and a five disk changer.
“I hope you are pleased with your accommodations,” said Dick.
“They're satisfactory,” Jean rebutted.
“Good. We're about to shove off. I would like to dine about six. That should give you enough time to settle in.” Dick said looking at his watch.
“Excuse me Dick. Could you refresh my memory. Where are we going to again ?”
“We're going to a private island called Kiatsu. It's small, you probably won't find it on any map . It's about ten miles northeast of Hawaii.”
“Oh, okay,” Jean said looking out the port hole.
The chauffeur looked gassed as he dragged Jean's bags all the way from the car. It had to be at least a quarter mile from the driveway all the way to the shore. He set his things down while trying to catch his breath. He stood facing Jean, expecting some kind of tip.
“Waiting for something?” Jean said putting his bag on the bed.
“Yeah.” The young boy said hesitantly, and put out his hand for a nice little gratuity.
“Oh, you wanna tip huh. Well here's your tip, be on time.” Jean opened the door and motioned for him to leave.
The sound of the engines began to roar. The ship slowly pulled away from the dock as Bill, an ex-Navy man, assumed the captain’s role and hit the throttle. He hit the horn one good time to alert everyone of the take-off. Dick was in the cockpit with him, as they lit up a couple of cigars, and gazed upon the ocean.
“So Bill, what do think about our friend Jean down stairs?” As he took a puff of his Montecristo cigar.
“That attitude, that arrogance, he's perfect. You sure know how to pick'em. You've really out done yourself this time,” Bill said smiling.
“Yeah I know.”
“So when are we gonna do it ?”
“Patience my friend. It'll happen in good time. Just try to relax .” Dick said patting him on the soldier.
“I know. I know. But I don't understand why we only do these things once a year?”
“We've been through this before Bill . If we do it too often, people will start asking question. Besides, the anticipation is part of the thrill.” Dick turned to Bill flashing a sinister grin.
“Yeah you're right,” he nodded.
Jean woke up after a short nap. He finished putting away his things and decided to take a good look around. Jean had always been nosey since he was a kid. He couldn't help it. It's like it's in his DNA. He cracked his door to see if anyone was in the hallway. It was clear. He walked around and carefully peak in everyone's room. They were all the same, no different than his. He had seen every part of this ship except one. He got to one door that was locked. He jiggled the doorknob a couple of times, but it wouldn't budge. Suddenly, he felt a tap on the shoulder.
“Need help with something?” said Henry.
Jean jumped slightly. He was startled, as he looked for a quick excuse for why he was trying to get into this room. “Ah, I was just looking around for the life jackets. Are they in here?”
“You won't find them in there. That's just a storage closet,” Henry said with a smile. “They're right up here. I'll show you.”
Jean followed Henry up the stairs to the upper deck.
“Here we go.” He pointed to a small storage closet that was full of life preservers.
“Thanks. I always like to know just in case.”
“Sure no problem.”
Jean managed to play that off well. Maybe I'll try it again tonight he thought to himself. He had to know what was in that room. He collected himself for a moment and went upstairs to get started on dinner.
He went to the kitchen and opened up the refrigerator to see it was full with all the groceries he required to make his masterpiece. He decided to make his world famous Bouillabaisse. He pulled out the Monkfish and mullet, the two fish he prefers to use in his dish. He fired up the stove to start his sauce. He grabbed the leek onions, tomatoes, and celery and started to let them simmer. He pulled out of his bag, his container of freshly made spices, garlic, bay leafs, orange peel, fennel, saffron, and basil. He began to go to work. To watch Jean cook was like watching Tiger Woods play golf or Magic Johnson running a fast break. It was poetry in motion. A thing of beauty. He was a true wizard in the kitchen. His skills were unmatched.
About an hour passed and he got his recipe down just right. Before he knew it, his masterpiece had been created. The fish was done. He dipped his spoon into the sauce to take a taste. “Perfect.”
Everybody gathered in the dining room where Jean prepared to serve them. They applauded him as he bought out the meal. He fixed everybody a plate, and went back to the upper deck to watch the sun set. Jean never watched anyone eat his food. That was a personal rule he had.
Jean grabbed a seat on the deck and watched as the orange-looking sun left its streaks against the powder blue sky. He could hear the clinging of silverware and glasses as the guest feasted on his food. The waves making the ship rise and fall were extremely relaxing to Jean. He had such a long day having gotten up at five in the morning. He easily dozed off again right on the deck.
When Jean awoke several hours later, it was very late at night. As far as he could tell the ship was in the middle of nowhere. He couldn't see anything in any direction. The ship had stopped and the anchor was down. It was eerily quiet. He walked around but saw no one. Maybe everyone went to sleep was his first thought. He went back into the dining area to see the dishes were still on the table. He was shocked to see that the food he'd prepared was uneaten. Each plate barely had a couple of bites taken out.
Something felt out of place to Jean. The ship was way too quiet, and nobody ever leaves his entree's uneaten. He went to the cockpit, it was vacant. He decided to go down below and see if he could find Dick, or one of the other passengers. Maybe someone was sick or something. He looked in the lounge, no one. He went to living room, nothing. He headed to the lower decks. He put his ears to the doors, but couldn't hear anything. He opened the door to Dick's room, and nobody was in there. The bed was still made. He walked into room after room, with the same results. Jean started scratching his head. “What the hell is going on?” He blurted out.
Then he remembered the one room he hadn't been in. The one room that had stirred his curiosity from the very beginning. The door that Henry interfered with him opening.
He walked over to it. It was still locked. He grabbed his wallet out his back pocket and pulled out a credit card. He slid it through the edge of the door and it opened. He slowly opened the door to find the room pitch black. He slid his hands up and down the wall until he found a switch. The light came on. The first thing that caught his eye was a table. It looked like the kind of table you would find in a execution chamber. It had straps on it to tie somebody down. He looked to his left to see a small table with which looked like several types of saws and a large hand saw. He picked up the saw and stared at it. “What the hell do you need a saw on a ship for?” Jean said turning it around and looking at it from different angles.
He sat it back down and walked over to another small door. He turned the knob to find out it was unlocked. In there was a small little glass case. He picked it up to see that his name was embroidered on a bronze label. He picked it up and held it. He backed out the closet and turned around. Standing in front of him were all the guests. They all had stoic looks on their faces. Jean was startled that he dropped the glass case in surprise.
“Dick! I eh, I eh was wondering where everybody went. I was looking around trying to find you guys.”
“Well, here we are.”
“What is this place? And why is my name on that case?” Jean said pointing to the shattered glass case that was on the floor.
“That's for us to know and you to find out.” Dick said smiling now.
“This whole trip has me feeling a little uncomfortable to say the least. I demand that you take me back to Los Angeles at once.”
“I don't think that'll be possible Mr. Pierre.”
Then from behind the closet door that Jean found the case, came Henry. He was holding a needle. Before Jean had a chance to react, Henry jabbed him in the arm. He began to lose consciousness quickly. His eyelids felt as heavy as bricks. Within seconds he was out cold.
Jean came to. He was groggy and his vision was blurred. His head was pounding like a drum. He went to move but couldn't. He raised his head up to see that he was tied down tightly on that table. His clothes had been taken off. The only thing he was wearing was his boxer shorts. He could hear footsteps coming towards him.
“What is the meaning of this? Release me immediately. “Jean said trying to wiggle himself loose.
“I see you've come to.”
“Release me now Dick ! I know it's you. I can smell that foul cigar on your breath. I will inform the authorities about this strange behavior!“
Dick walked around in front of Jean so that he could see him. He bent over and locked eyes with Jean. “You know when I told you the story of Mount Everest, I left a few things out. You see when the avalanche hit, we were cut off from our supplies. We had no food. We sat in that small tent wondering what we were gonna do. Then two of my friends died. That left us with a huge dilemma Jean. We hadn't eaten in over a week. We could bury our friends and starve to death or we could use them for food. Well Jean, we did the latter,” he said flashing that sinister grin. He went to the small table and grabbed the power saw. “I can remember eating my first piece of human flesh. It was a disgusting feeling, but after a week I got use to it. After a while I liked it. So did everybody else.”
Jean felt pure terror. His body went numb. He was more nervous than Al Sharpton in a Klu Klux Klan meeting. He tried to move with all the strength he had, but the restraints were too tight.
“Save your strength.” Dick said starting up the power saw.
“Why are doing this to me? Why me ?” He yelled.
“Simple. Arrogant, snobby, vain people are usually never missed. That’s why when I saw how you acted in your restaurant, I knew you were the perfect one,” Dick said tapping him playfully on cheek.
“Please! Please don't kill me. I'll give you money, whatever you want.”
“We don't want money. Besides, wasn't it you that said, and I quote, “we all die sooner or later.”
“Don't worry Jean. We'll cook you with your sauce. You'll have the pleasure of being your own final dish.”
He came closer with the saw as Jean yelled as loud as he could one last time. “Nooooooooooooooooo.”