Kenny looked at the clock on the wall.

5:32 stared back at him.

He took another sip of coffee, grimacing at how much it had cooled since his last sip. He was nervous and knew caffeine wasn’t helping him any, but he was addicted to the stuff.

His wife Janet walked into the room. Her black hair wavered around her pretty face.

“Kenny,” she said with an air of annoyance in her voice, “why are you so worried? It’s just Mr. Samad and his wife. You see him every day at work. You said yourself that he’s a nice person, so why worry so much?”

Kenny sighed. “I don’t know. I guess I’m just scared something could go wrong. I’ll never get another chance like this.”

Janet stepped up to her husband and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Just relax. Everything will be fine.”

The doorbell rang.

Kenny spun around and faced the door as Janet sprinted toward the kitchen. He felt a knot forming in his gut.
With a trembling hand he opened the door.

Mr. and Mrs. Samad stood on the porch.

“Mr. Samad!” Kenny beamed through the best grin he could fabricate. “Please, come in.” He shook his boss’s hand and gestured for the couple to enter.

“Hello Kenny, this is my wife, Malene.”

The woman clung to her husband like a toddler to its mother in a room of strangers.

 After seated themselves, Kenny and Mr. and Mrs. Samad watched as Janet set a large platter holding a golden-skinned turkey on the dinner table.

“Looks delicious, Honey,” Kenny said, hoping that his guests thought the same.

But he was disappointed that neither of them seemed to be pleased with the main course.

“Okay,” Kenny said in an uncomfortable tone, “white or dark meat?”

Mrs. Samad looked at her husband and shook her head.

Mr. Samad forced a smile and said, “I’m afraid I neglected to tell you that both my wife and I are vegetarians. I apologize for the inconvenience, but we won’t be able to share your meal.” He glanced at his wife, who despite her best attempts at humbleness could not conceal her disgust with the food.

Kenny felt anger boiling in his gut. All the years of pent-up rage with this boss, all the missed promotions, the low salary, the late hours, it all came to a head.

Still wearing the smile he’d shown for most of the evening, Kenny stood up. The carving knife dangled in his hand. The air was thick with tension.

Janet looked at her husband. She was also angry.

“Honey,” she said as she rested her hand on Kenny’s shoulder, “it’s okay, there’s also soup and salad.” She gestured at a porcelain bowl near the centre of the table that was filled with steaming red broth. “You two do like tomato soup?”

Mr. Samad nodded. “Yes we do, thank you.”

Kenny sat down. “Good then, let’s eat.”

Janet sat down and held out her plate for a slice of meat. Kenny cut a piece off for her and took a slab for himself.

“Aren’t you going to have some soup?” Mr. Samad asked as his wife began sipping at the broth.

“No,” Kenny replied, “we prefer meat.”

Janet nodded. She did like tomato soup, but only without rat poison in it.
Now available from Schlock! Publications.

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