Flash Fiction Friday — Caroline

Caroline turned and glared at Jimmy. “This order isn’t right.”

Jimmy laughed. “Carrie, stop being paranoid.”

She looked at the plate again. On the surface, it looked like a normal meal. Spaghetti with a side of corn. Innocuous enough, but it just didn’t look “right.” It didn’t help that it had been served to her with the meatballs arranged in a grotesque smile, oozing bright red sauce. She knew it was silly, but her stomach churned regardless.

“Is that part of a fingernail?”

“It’s an onion. These restaurants actually put spices and flavors in their food, unlike the crap you make at home. Just eat it.”

“I don’t make crap. I get the expensive sauce; I just like it better with the chunks strained out.” Poking at a meatball with her fork, Caroline fought to keep from gagging. “Why did we come here, anyway? We have Italian at home all the time. We didn’t need to go out.”

With a sigh Jimmy slammed his glass down on the table, spilling a few drops of wine on the tablecloth. Caroline jumped and watched the stain spread. Why wasn’t it turning purple? Red wine stains turned purple; this was still blood red. Blood. Red. She shivered. Was that wine a little thicker than usual?

“You do this every damn Halloween, Carrie. Jesus, I can’t take you anywhere. Just eat the damn food and quit complaining. This place isn’t cheap, you know. I doubt they’d charge us thirty dollars a plate just to feed you junk.”

Shrinking back from his glare, Caroline set down her fork and put her hands in her lap. He was right. She shouldn’t be complaining. It was Halloween, and her boyfriend had brought her to a nice restaurant for her birthday. Maybe being born on Halloween had made her paranoid after all.

“I’m sorry, Jimmy. I’ll eat it.” She picked her fork back up and aimed for a meatball.

Before she could stab one, Jimmy gagged and grabbed his throat. Caroline screamed and watched with wide eyes as his face turned white, then red, then purple. Within seconds, Jimmy fell face first onto the table, splattering spaghetti sauce over the tablecloth.

“Waiter! Waiter! Someone come here, quick!” Caroline shouted. A spindly waiter appeared at her side, his apron askew.

“Oh, my! What seems to be the problem?”

She pointed at the table in disgust. “There is not one single body part in my meal. Is it too much to ask to get a little protein with this overpriced slop?”

The waiter flushed and reached for her plate with a shaking hand. “Terribly sorry, miss. An oversight on the chef’s part, I assure you.” He turned to Jimmy’s still form. “Would you like me to take away the other plate? Your companion seems to have finished.”

“Oh, he’s finished, all right,” she said. “Can you bring me another plate? Get the order right this time.”

“Of course, miss.”

Paranoid, indeed. She knew they’d gotten her order wrong.