Special Sauce, by Chad A. Clark
The health inspector walked alongside the counter, running his finger over the surface and frowning at the thick layer of grime and dust that he pushed through. Dale watched him go through his routine, wondering how long this particular dance would have to go on.
“So…What happened to our regular guy?” he asked.
“Food poisoning, I’m afraid.” The twerp removed his gloves long enough to scratch his nose and adjust the glasses that were perched on the end of his nose. Once done, he removed a fresh pair of gloves from his pocket. “Though I can’t say that his absence has been a bad thing, especially considering his obvious inattention to certain details.”
“Uh-huh.” Dale watched as the inspector looked over the menu scrawled onto an old chalkboard. He pointed at the listing for the house special, which was currently marked as unavailable.
“What exactly is a…luck of the…” He frowned and leaned in to get a closer look at the menu. “luck of the day-wich?”
“Just a sandwich. We use whatever’s on hand, you know? You get what we give you. But it has a real special kind of meat. Sort of need it, you know? It’s hard to get, real regular.”
The inspector smiled, a thin expression that did nothing to convey any kind of mirth or good will. “Charming.” He turned his back on Dale and began his seventh tour around the diner, an establishment that was barely larger than a one bedroom apartment. This was going on way too long.
“So what’s the verdict?”
The inspector ignored the question as he did another soul-sucking lap. When he finally returned to his starting point, he took his gloves off and put the pen back into his breast pocket.
“Perhaps we should go somewhere more discreet to discuss this?”
Dale stuck out a lip and shook his head. “Just get out with it, I don’t care.”
“Well, then where do I begin?” He lifted his clipboard and began tracing down it with his finger even though Dale suspected that he knew the whole thing by heart. “You have no hand-washing stations. I have observed your cook returning from the lavatory twice without washing his hands and when I asked him, he was unable to tell me what your procedures are for properly holding perishable food.”
“Well come on now, the sink in the bathroom’s just fine for—”
“You have unlabeled bins of meat in your reach-in, cooked meat sharing containers with uncooked meat, and vegetables that are mostly rotten. You have inadequate holding temperatures in all of your coolers, blood on the floors, no properly maintained dish-washing station and your waitress has been sneezing and coughing on the food the entire time I have been here.”
He looked up from his clipboard with a smug look of satisfaction as if Dale was supposed to just figure out the answer to his original question on his own. He tried repeating it, but slower and enunciating the words more effectively.
“So, what’s the verdict?”
“Sir, I cannot in good conscience allow you to continue serving food to the public in these conditions. You will need to shut down your kitchen immediately, confiscate any food from your patrons and you are not to charge anyone for what they have ordered or partially consumed. I will also need to see the documentation from your last inspection.”
“Yeah…” Dale looked around in the mess under the register, stealing glances at his customers who were all rolling their eyes at the show that this officious prick was putting on for everyone. “Tell you what. That green binder over there, next to the phone? Down by your knees? Pretty sure it’s in there.”
The inspector leaned down to reach for the binder. As he did so, Dale grabbed the meat cleaver that the cook was passing through to him from the kitchen. He raised it, and brought it down into the center of the prick’s back. The man shrieked as he fell forward and Dale brought the blade up for a second blow, this time to the back of the head. After a third, fourth and fifth time, the screams stopped. He tossed the cleaver into the sink and stood up with a grin lighting up his face.
“Special’s back on boys!”
For more short fiction like this, check out Chad A. Clark’s collections, A Shade For Every Season as well as Two Bells At Dawn.
Chad A. Clark is an author of horror and science fiction. For more information on his literary universe, check out his official website or take a peek at his Amazon author page