The Connoisseur

© Graham
© Graham

Hajib knew he stood out in the fancy restaurant. All the other patrons were New York’s upper crust. Beautiful women dressed in expensive gowns, their consorts sporting gold watches and hundred dollar haircuts. Everything he had learned to despise in the western world.

By contrast, his brown skin and plain garb seemed out of place, and yet, no one gave him a second glance. He’d refused to remove his heavy coat, which had caused the maitre d’ to raise an eyebrow. Still, he was ushered to his table with a smile.

Originally, he’d planned to detonate the explosives strapped to his chest the moment he arrived, but the delicate scent of food wafting in the air gave power to his empty stomach to override his brain. He’d at least have an appetizer first.

Since this would be his last meal, he figured Allah would grant him leave to enjoy a few savory delights. He started with a small plate of fried calamari, which he found delightfully crispy and flavorful. This only whet his appetite for an entrée and after much pondering he settled on the Duck a l’Orange.

His first bite filled his mouth with such an explosion of flavor that he nearly forgot about the C-4 hugging his midsection. Sweet, tangy juice dripped decadently down into his long beard as he savored each wonderful mouthful.

When his waiter returned to clear his plate, he suggested a small serving of Tiramisu as a palate cleanser. Lost in a world of culinary delight, Hajib eagerly agreed.

The sweet, coffee flavor of the dessert surprised him. He’d never dreamed such a confection existed, having spent most of his life in barren, arid lands, sustaining himself on goat and rice.

When he laid his fork on the table, the small china plate was cleaned of all but a few scant crumbs. Hajib closed his eyes, enjoying the soft music as it caressed his ears.

“Excuse me sir, will there be anything else for you?”

His waiter had returned with the check. In that moment, he knew it was time to act. He reached inside his bulky coat and his fingers found their mark.

“No, everything was wonderful,” Hajib smiled as he withdrew his wallet.

On the cab ride back to his apartment, Hajib disconnected the detonator. Jihad could wait. No country that served food like that could be all bad.

[This is my second entry this week into the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge, hosted by Priceless Joy. I went way over the word count, so I’m not submitting this as an official entry, but I liked it enough to post it anyway.

I’m not trying to make a political or social statement with this story. (At least, I don’t think I am) I just liked the thought that a delicious meal could move a person enough to reconsider their perspectives. This was not meant to be offensive, only light-hearted.]




7 thoughts on “The Connoisseur

  1. I enjoyed this. Sometimes I think between cultures often we only see the bad things of the otherside. We fail to see there are good things too. Seems to me that this guy was able to see good in the food of the Western world, it was enough for him to change his mind. I do think food is that powerful. Especially for someone who has never had any hat tasted to so good. Excellent take on the prompt.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Despite the dark nature of the underlying subject matter, my smile got wider and wider as Hajib sampled more and more of the restaurant’s delights, and I’m glad it ended as it did as he reached for his… wallet 🙂 Great story!

    Liked by 1 person

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