People in the wealthy suburb of “Wooded Sanctuary” often gossiped that Victor was a poor and miserable cook, and untrustworthy with any worldly treasure. They whispered, while he made their favorite meals, that it is best to beware of misplacing gold, diamonds, or even daughters in his proximity. In the evening, the crowd of high-minded and moral people came to enjoy their favorite dishes designed by his deft hands.
“Oh, and have you heard what Doris said?” squawked one middle-aged lady of repute, “She said that her granddaughter came home from college and she wore an expensive, silk dress with a gleaming pearl necklace. But after an evening with this rogue to the movies, she came home missing more than the dress and pearls!”
He was known for treating the fairer sex fairly, but his liberties with their belongings were hardly just. There was no use in going to the police, because the victims often refused to testify and witnesses failed to reveal themselves.
“There was one time when the foolish Johnson family,” remarked a plump, bald man wearing an absurd Christmas sweater, “hired him as chef for Mr. and Mrs. Johnson’s wedding anniversary. The food was quite delicious, I was there and had my fill, but at the end when no one was left, Mrs. Johnson found her entire jewelry box empty as well as the bed-side safe cracked and looted.”
Then a silence came over the diners, as the cart of food rolled to the table and the waiters put down the plates. The discussion had died and been buried along with the stuffed mouths from which it had flowed earlier. The dishes were very American, burgers, turkey, salmon, and steak with plenty of potatoes in both mashed or fried varieties. Victor had become an adept cook of the most patriotic cuisines that this country had to offer. But it was not his passion, for he had one love greater than that of his food, which was a pretty, bright-eyed, young lady named Maria. There was only one problem that stopped their union, and it was money, or Victor’s lack thereof. His wage barely paid for his studio apartment at the edge of town. Of course, he was, at that time, known as a notorious thief and Casanova disguised as a chef, but no one could trust the rumor as truth for he did not spend the stolen wealth. Instead, he saved it in a bundle within a nearby cave.
He went to this cave on a cold night after a recent snowfall. And as he warmed his hands by breathing to grasp the stone that hid his gains, a light tap on his left shoulder turned him around. Nothing was there, so he quickly turned over his right shoulder and saw a handsome figure looking aloof. Victor stood astonished and tense as he examined this man who wore a winged helmet and held a staff with two intertwining snakes.
“Wh-who are you? And what do you want?” stuttered Victor.
“I am Hermes, god of Trade, Thievery, and Trickery. I have come to collect your stolen items.”
“Hold on a minute! I did my best to steal these items while maintaining the illusion that I am trustworthy. I even work in a restaurant for a small wage. Look-,“ he removed the rock cover, “-I have not sold a single dollars’ worth of these!”
“Then what is the intention of your burglaries?” said Hermes with a single, raised eyebrow and an unamused look that expressed a desire to go elsewhere.
“I want to win Maria’s heart, but I am only a pauper and she is a general manager’s daughter!” At this Victor bowed his head a little to let a tear fall which caught the moonlight producing a humbling effect on Hermes. At length, the latter explained that he did not intend to return the stash to the rightful owners or report Victor to the police.
“No, no! What I want to do is deliver your bounty to the gods of Olympus, as a sacrifice, who will make Maria fall in love with you. You have proven yourself to me in both Trade and Thievery so it is only fair that I reward you with your desire. But you must fulfill one more task of Trickery to win the maiden. In seven days she is to be wed to a black man named Tyrone-“
“What!” interrupted Victor.
“Don’t interrupt me mortal! Yes, a black man, and he is a professor of African studies, which earns him a very nice sum of cash. Your goal is to stop this wedding by any means necessary, because I am powerless to do so. Remember, she may love this man, but Cupid is blindfolded when he shoots arrows, love is blind, and you will win her.” Victor blinked at this last sentence, but the god had disappeared as did his stash.
Victor was inevitably hired to cater to the grand marriage of Maria and Tyrone, because Maria’s parents needed the best cook in town. Maria’s wealthy progenitors had been introduced to Tyrone at an African charity event hosted by the local Lutheran church. They were dumbstruck by his ability to reason and communicate effectively, which was something unheard of for a black person. And so, they condescended to invite him over to dinner one night and that’s how it all began. This family had voted for Hillary Clinton in the recent election, but their liberal values were on shaky foundations and a mixed-race grandchild was the only salvation from the tyranny of Donald Trump.
Victor spent the next six days perfecting his art and learning fancy and foreign meals to make what need not be named here. On the seventh day, he arrived at the church for the wedding. Walking through the aisles to get to the kitchen, he noticed that the church had been decorated with strange and crudely drawn, colorful shapes which represented the “culture of Africa”. The black side of the family had shown up early and were dancing and chanting to drum beats. Victor had a wide grin on his face, which made him look more like a devil than a normal man.
By the afternoon, the whooping and hollering had mostly quieted down, and both sides of the family were sitting uncomfortably in the pews waiting for the event to begin and be over with. Maria was waiting to walk down the aisle, but she was not happy with this wedding. Her parents had basically forced her to marry this boring and hideous monkey without even consulting her true wishes. She did not like living in Wooded Sanctuary and wanted to move to a rural area and have a normal family, which was her dream since childhood. Tyrone, on the other hand, thought nothing about Maria except consummating the marriage and had tried before, but unsuccessfully. Presently, another thought came to Tyrone’s mind, food.
“Sheit mane, I ain’ gon’ wait till evenin’ to git some food up in hurr!” But Tyrone’s cries fell on deaf ears, so he made his way to the kitchen.
“Yo dawg, you got any wuttermelon in hurr?” said Tyrone to Victor who was busy chopping greens.
“Oh yes, I certainly do have some watermelon for you. Hold on, one second.” Now Victor’s original plan was to stop the marriage by shooting Tyrone with an arrow before the pastor blessed the marriage, because he thought that was what Hermes meant him to do. But he now decided to garnish the watermelon with arsenic he carried around to poison witnesses of his robberies.
“Lurd!” exhaled Tyrone poised to devour the cut watermelon, “Dis looks good!” Tyrone dropped to the floor after a few minutes and Victor dragged him to a closet. Victor was elated that the plan had succeeded so far, but who was Maria’s father supposed to give her to on the altar? Victor grabbed some coals and started rubbing them on his face.
The ceremony began as Victor, poorly disguised as Tyrone, stood waiting for Maria. The pastor’s breath smelled of alcohol and he did not recognize Victor’s ruse, and he barely remembered the Bible verses to quote. The black half of the family were not intelligent enough to see this either, also because they were too busy rolling marijuana joints out of the Bibles in the pews.
Here Comes the Bride played on the organ and father-daughter slowly came up the aisle. As Maria neared him, she could not properly see his face, because of the veil, but she was not smiling.
“We are gathered here today, etc. etc.” began the pastor. And the whole-time Victor was sad that she would not smile and that he could not properly see her eyes. But at last after the obligatory “I do” by both, she raised the veil to be kissed, and when her eyes met his, the trustworthy magic of the Olympians worked on her heart and a big smile with red cheeks and doe-eyes radiated her countenance.
“You may kiss the bride.” And so, they did with intense passion.
Thereafter the two escaped the scene before dinner-time and all that anyone found in the kitchen was a dead black man, which was quite unappetizing. A riot then ensued from the black half of the family who, unconcerned with their dead relative, were complaining that fried-chicken was not on the menu. Maria’s parents were taken aback that their daughter had disappeared along with the chef. They cursed themselves for choosing him as caterer, when they could’ve chosen an Ethiopian cook. Victor and Maria traveled for some time, but eventually settled down in a country town where Victor did not thieve and he started a restaurant that became very popular. The only people who were not trusted in his establishment were blacks.