Another Friday, another Chuck Wendig challenge. This week’s prompt:
You have up to 1000 words to write a story — not a scene, but a story — where a character makes a sandwich. Any kind of character, any kind of sandwich, but the point is to infuse this seemingly mundane act with the magic story-stuff of drama and conflict. Make it the most interesting “person-making-a-sandwich” story you can possibly make it. It needs to grip the testicles. It must twist the nipples. It must not let go.
Check out other sandwich stories over on his blog, and my story after the break.
“Every sandwich requires three things,” Lucretz unscrewed the cap to the mayonnaise. “Are you listening?”
“I’m not going to talk.” The typically suave Rick Chester no longer struggled against his bonds. His right eye was now swollen shut, his left bloodshot. A torn evening jacket revealed bruises, and red stains blossomed across his crisp white shirt.
Lucretz pulled Chester’s head back by the hair, looked him in the eye. “I’m not asking you to talk. I’m asking you to listen.” Chester shook in defiance, Lucretz tightened his grip, exercising a moment’s more control, then let go only when he was ready. “Three things. Something creamy, something crunchy, and something with a bite to it.”
He returned to the jar of mayo on the dark marble counter, and thrust a knife in. He looked at the creamy white spread as it oozed slowly down the blade. “Creamy helps keep the sandwich moist. Bread is so dry on its own, no matter how well made.” He spread a thin layer of the mayo over two slices of wheat bread.
“What’s your game, Lucretz?”
“My game? I do not play games, Mr. Chester. You should know that by now. Now, the meat and cheese–”
“For putting meat and cheese on a sandwich? No, Mr. Chester, it’s simply how things are done. Please stop interrupting. The meat and cheese should be fresh, and they should compliment. A strong meat deserves a strong cheese, roast beef and cheddar, say. Tame meat, tame cheese. Neither should overpower the other. Put a sharp cheddar with turkey, and you’ll just taste cheddar. No part of a sandwich should be overlooked. Just as no part of a plan should be overlooked. Say, the part of the plan where you overlooked making sure your partner wasn’t working for me. Really a disappointing choice on your part, like putting provolone with beef.”
“Mitchem?” Chester’s voice cracked around the name.
“Oh dear me, are you just now figuring out?” Lucretz crouched down to the tile floor. He wanted to see the look in Chester’s eyes, not the look Chester would put on if his head was pulled back again. Pain. Betrayal. Oh so delightful. An unintended chuckle slipped past his lips. “You didn’t for a moment question his sources? Marvelous. I’ll remember that in the future. Now, today I’ve got some grilled chicken from last night, lots of herbs, lots of flavor, so I’m going with a cheddar.”
“Bloody damned Mitchem.”
“Yes, yes, I fear you’re not paying attention to this part. Even dispersal of the meat and cheese is essential. Each bite of a sandwich must be uniform.” He cut meat from a roast chicken with the same knife. It glinted in the light, played across the meat, pulled it clean from the bone with such simple movements. “Have I mentioned this knife? I love this knife. Sandwich making requires oddly specific knives.”
“You’re not going to get away with this?”
“I’m afraid I’ve nearly done so already. Look, here goes the cheese.” He toyed with putting the slices on the sandwich, made it a show for his captive audience.
“You know what I mean, Lucretz.”
“I’m afraid I don’t. Now, I said there were two other things for a sandwich. Do you remember them?”
“The plans, Lucretz.”
“No, I’m sorry, no plans on a sandwich. I said crunch and bite. Something to give the sandwich some texture, and something to give it a little,” he mimed slugging the agent in the gut, stopping short to see him flinch, “punch. You can get crunch by toasting the bread, but I don’t like that. Some people would put bacon on this, but that’s such a cheat. I’ve got a little secret.”
He went to the brushed metal fridge and pulled out a small plastic tub. “Sprouts. Marvelous things. Vastly under appreciated. Just pile them onto a sandwich as high as you want, they make everything so much healthier, and they provide such a fine earthy crunch. I always keep them on hand.”
“You’re forgetting something, Lucretz.”
“Yes! Very good, I’m forgetting the bite.”
“You’re forgetting the might of Her Majesty’s service.”
Lucretz again took Chester by the hair. “You’re in no place to talk about might, Mr. Chester. Just listen. Do you hear helicopters? Special ops? Rescue efforts of any kind? You’ve been dropped, Mr. Chester, disavowed, written off, whatever your people call it. Now, the bite.” He pushed Chester’s head back down, and pulled a jar of banana peppers from the fridge. “Something spicy, or tangy, or just vinegary. Now, I know what you’re thinking, banana peppers could also be crunchy, but today I felt like a really crisp sandwich.”
“At least tell me what you’re planning.”
He dropped the knife in the jar, annoyed. “Mr. Chester, I don’t know why you think I’m planning anything.” He pull the knife back out, and continued arranging the pepper slices.
“Was given to you by Mitchem, wasn’t it?”
“The missing bombs?”
“Oh, not me I’m afraid.” He topped the sandwich off with another slice of bread, pressed it down, and transferred it from the cutting board to a plate.
“Isn’t that what your organization is supposed to figure out?” He pulled out a different knife, serrated, and cut the sandwich from corner to corner.
“So what do you want?”
“I want one less of Her Majesty’s agents around next time I do plan something.” He held the serrated blade under Chester’s chin. “But I didn’t expect it to be nearly this easy.”
He pulled the blade across Chester’s throat. The agent choked and hissed as his blood spurted. It splattered Lucretz, and stained the bread of his sandwich. “Even now you insist on spoiling things. I suppose you may have this one, I’ll make another.”