Muggs brought the last box of whiskey bottles in and set them down on the long counter in the center of the gleaming kitchen in the Stokes mansion, next to the other ten wooden boxes he’d unloaded from the Packard. Petey was sitting at a table, discussing something with the chef, a large man dressed in white, with a red face and a walrus mustache.
“Nothing doing,” the chef said. “Put it on our account.”
“That won’t do,” Petey said. “Mr. Donovan said your boss was to pay us upfront.”
“I don’t have time for this,” the chef said. “I am preparing for the biggest social event of the season. I have 300 guests coming tonight.”
Petey whistled. “300? I’d hate to see that many people with dry throats.”
The chef laughed, and his whole body shook. He took a white towel from around his neck and mopped his face with it. “You’re trying to scare me? You palookas don’t mean a thing to us. Mr. Stokes knows everyone. The Governor is going to be at the party tonight. Charles Lindbergh is coming. This is the first party he’s been to since he got back from Paris. There’s a Cardinal coming, and several mayors.”
“Be a shame if they got thirsty,” Petey said.
Muggs was having a hard time concentrating on the conversation. The kitchen was alive with smells: turkey, ham, cake -- in fact, there was a very large chocolate cake on the counter not far from the whiskey.
“Could I have a piece of that cake?” he asked.
“What?” the chef said. “Sure, help yourself.” He turned back to Petey. “You don’t understand, do you? Get it into your thick skull that you’re to charge the whiskey to Mr. Stokes’ account.”
“This is swell cake,” Muggs said, eating a large slice of the cake with his hands.
“I better talk to Mr. Stokes,” Petey said, getting up from the table. “He’s a banker, right? I’m sure he knows a lot about paying bills.”
The chef got up and went over to a section of the kitchen where there were big knives stuck in a wooden block. He pulled out a very large gleaming butcher knife and came back, then stood in the doorway that led from the kitchen to the rest of the house, blocking it with his considerable bulk. “Get out of here now, you scum,” he said. “Or I’ll carve you up like a couple of beefsteaks.”
* * *
“Gee, that was swell cake,” Muggs said, as Petey drove down the mile-long driveway from the big house. “You should have had a piece.”
“I wasn’t hungry,” Petey said.
“I wish I knew how to cook,” Muggs said. “I’d make a cake for myself every day.”
“I hope they have an assistant chef,” Petey said. “Otherwise, dinner ain’t going to be served on time.”
“He should have stuck to making cakes,” Muggs said, licking a speck of chocolate icing off his thumb. “He was good at that.”
Copyright John McDonnell 2010
Chocolate Fudge Birthday Cake 7"