The Case of the Belgian Dark

This is either parody of, or homage to, Edgar Allen Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado…you decide which.

The thousand injuries of Benedicta I had borne as best I could, but when she purloined my red popsicle, I vowed revenge. Even at my tender age, I uttered not a word, not a threat. Only at length would I be revenged.

You must understand, I never gave Benedicta cause to doubt my friendship, my good will. She would never suspect until the rope was coiled about her neck.

You see, Benedicta, she had a weakness, one she was never able to fully control. Her taste for sweet treats, that would be her undoing. To be fair she did have a fine palate for the confectioner’s delights, and had progressed quite a ways from the sugared syrup of that fated popsicle. It was for this reason that over the last twenty years, I had come to know as much as possible about the sugared culinary milieu.

It was on St. Hallow’s Eve, among the tumult of the costumed revelry that I encountered my dear friend. She accosted me with such false frivolity that I was certain she was intoxicated with sugar. She wore a tight-fitting parti-striped dress and her head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells. I was so pleased to meet her I thought I would dissolve into a fit of hysteric laughter.

I said to her, “My dear Benedicta, how marvelous you are looking today. But just this very week I have received a case of what passes for the finest Belgian dark chocolate, and I have my doubts.”

“How?” she asked. “Belgian Dark? During the holidays?”

“I have my doubts,” I said, “and I was silly enough to pay the asking price for Belgian.”

She leaned toward me conspiratorially, “Constantin, we must satisfy your doubts.”

“No my friend. I can see you are engaged. I am on my way to Renzo’s. If he will join me, I can satisfy my doubts without troubling you my dear friend.”

“Renzo cannot tell Belgian Dark from Hershey’s, dear boy,” Benedicta said. “Let Renzo rest and we will satisfy your doubts.”

“But your health,” I said. “The case is in my cellar, and it is dark and close. With your cough, I cannot…”

“Quiet, Constantin. You must be satisfied.” Thus speaking, Benedicta took my arm. I suffered her smell of gluttony and sweet as we hurried to my home.

When we arrived, the house was dark. The promise of countless adultlings crowding the porch demanding candied treats was enough to drive them from the house each Hallow’s Eve.

After unlatching the door I turned on the chandelier. I led Benedicta to the pantry and opened the door to the cellar.

The feel of damp, and the smell of wine and mildew, hit us full in the face and Benedicta was wracked by a fit of coughing that left her gasping.

“Stop,” I said. “I cannot allow this. Your health is paramount. There is unhealthy air, and the dust of construction down there.”

“Enough,” she said. “It is nothing. I must see the case. I shall not die of a cough.”

At the bottom of the stairs I grabbed a bottle from one of the wine racks, and twisting off the top I handed it to her. “Then use all proper precaution. Here is a Port. It will help quiet the cough.”

She raised the bottle to her lips and drank heartily. The Port sparkled in her eyes while her costume bells jingled. We had passed the wine and come to the piles of blocks.

“What purpose do you have for the materiel?” she asked.

“We are expanding the cellar,” I said. “Nothing more.”

She took me at my word and continued to the back of the cellar. “So where rests the case of Belgian Dark?”

I leaned onto the wall, the anticipation of the moment weighing heavily on my shoulders. Reaching along the wall I lifted the switch, illuminating the small room at the most remote of the cellar. In its recess was a small wooden crate with exotic stamps.

“It is there,” said I. “The case of Belgian Dark.”

Benedicta, heedless of the unseen danger bounded into the small room and knelt to inspect the markings along the crate.

Upon witnessing her fervor I slammed the door behind her, shutting her in the small space. I threw the latch into place before her predicament became apparent.

The earliest indicator I had that Benedicta was suddenly aware of her quandary was the low, moaning way she called out to me. As she did this I carefully moved the materiel from the construction in front of the door to the small room.

Presently, as I neared the completion of my task, I heard Benedicta begin to laugh.

“Ha! ha! ha!—a very good joke indeed—an excellent jest. We will have many a rich laugh about it.”

“Yes,” I said as I continued to move the materiel into it’s proper place.

“But the Belgian Dark. What of the case, Constantin?”

“Yes, the Belgian Dark. I leave the case to you, Benedicta. Do what you will with it.”

I hastened to make an end of my labours. To my ears Benedicta never again uttered a sound. It is only in my imagination where I am able to witness the surprise imprinted on her face when she opened the crate to find naught of Belgian dark chocolate, but thousands upon thousands of popsicle sticks. Red-stained popsicle sticks.

Rest in Peace.

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