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31st December
posted by amber

Chocolate Death

The first body of the New Year lay on the sparkling clean tile floor of the kitchen of an upscale restaurant. The time was 1:01 a.m.

“We served the last guests in the dining room at 10,” the maitre d’ told us, “then everyone moved into the bar to see in the New Year around the fire place. We finished cleaning up by 11:30.”

“It’s very clean,” I complemented him. I’ve seen worse. Far worse.

The man looked upset. “Kent kept the staff on their toes. He was a perfectionist,” he commented, with a sideways glance at the body.

“Is he the owner?”

“He’s the boss. Married to the owner.” The maitre d’ began to cry. “Someone should notify her.”

I nodded at one of my men. “Get her details,” I said, and walked over to examine the body more closely.

“Could be some kind of allergic reaction,” they’d told me when I arrived. “Looks like strangulation, but there’s no ligature marks. And then, there were the locked doors.”

The victim had dialled 911 on his cell phone, but was unable to utter more than a garbled word which sounded like, “Help.” When the paramedics arrived, they’d had to break down the doors to the restaurant, which were locked from within.

“Was he allergic to anything?” I asked the maitre d’.

“Yes, to chocolate. Chocolate could kill him.”

“You’re kidding,” one of my men said. Chocolate Indulgence was the name of the restaurant.

“Well, he wasn’t always allergic, he got that way about five years ago.”

I walked into the man’s office. A large box of chocolates sat open on the desk, the kind with a bow, the kind you buy for a sweetheart. Half of the chocolates were gone. One of my men joined me. “Someone sent him a deadly gift?” he surmised. “The wife? Or maitre sweetie – he seems a bit more upset than an employee would be.”

“He’d know better than to eat the chocolates. And he wouldn’t lock himself in to eat them. It was suicide. There’s chocolate all over his fingers. He was eating them as fast as he could.”

“But he called for help.”

“So he changed his mind. That’s not uncommon. Maybe he found out it didn’t taste as wonderful as he’d come to imagine it. Not wonderful enough to die for after all.”

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story. If you’d like me to use your name in a story, I’d be happy to do that.

Happy New Year to everyone!

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