The Velvet Box
Candy-making was his favorite pastime. After working all day staring at lines of code and attending meaningless meetings where no one else at the table seemed to know how to do their jobs, the art, the finesse of candy-making (and the sweet taste of a successful job done) was what kept Leon going.
Today’s meeting had been exceptionally brutal. Explaining the nuances of his coding to a recent hire that could barely turn a computer on had left Leon’s left eye twitching for hours. But now, work ended and a Friday evening ahead of him, Leon could cook and spend the weekend indulging himself. He couldn’t wait to begin. He had some new recipes that he had been dying to try.
Taffy was one of Leon’s absolute favorite candies. He had planned to make a large batch to last him through the holidays but his wrists were sore. That particular bit of deliciousness was going to have to wait.
Anything chocolate was always a good idea. Not so good for his waistline, but who would be here to judge him? No wife, no kids. He was all by his lonesome and Leon’s sweet tooth never got tired of good old chocolate; milk, dark, bitter, infused or filled, there was never an incorrect way to eat it. There would be caramel, too. All he had to do was get to work.
Leon snapped his gloves as he pulled them over his knuckles. It made him feel like he was a doctor in one of those television shows they always played commercials for. He was going to be doing good. Tasty, tasty good.
The first thing he needed to do was to temper the chocolate. He set his bowl of milk and semi-sweet chocolates over a double boiler and let the steam do its job. Normally, Leon would use marshmallow or caramel and nuts as additions to his candies, but everything had been so stressful for him in the past few months that Leon knew he deserved a truly delicious treat. When the chocolate was ready, Leon set it aside, popped his gloves one more time, and took hold of a small set of tongs.
The young man that Leon had tied to one of his kitchen chairs was beginning to come to. Leon shook his head; he knew he should have used more meds. He sighed, disappointed in himself, but all he could do now was try and retrieve his delicacies as carefully as possible.
With one hand, Leon opened the pretty blue eye of the man. It was pristine. No contacts, he didn’t need glasses, there weren’t red and tired; this was what Leon had been waiting for. He gently eased the tongs behind the eye, ignoring the fluttering eyelid and the muffled screams, and pulled. He wanted it all out in one glorious piece so he needed to be as careful and steady-handed as possible. The eye fought, squirming in its hole until Leon popped it beyond the socket but the eyelid, blinking impossibly fast, was able to set it right. Leon thought that that wouldn’t do so he took his sharpest scissors (and gave his chocolate a stir to make sure that it wasn’t hardening too quickly) and removed the upper lids of both eyes. Now blood would be dripping over the blues of his eyes but Leon could always give them a rinse.
The first eye slid cleanly out and Leon cut the connective tissues and veins attaching it. It was beautiful and round and wasn’t leaking any of its fluid, which Leon had been afraid would happen. Eyeballs could be very fickle things. A quick rinse and a dry and Leon set the eyeball into the decadent chocolate, making sure to coat every bit. Then he set about with the second eye. It gave him some trouble but he was able to get it in one piece despite its refusal. He let the chocolate coating dry before adorning them with sugar flowers and a stripe of white chocolate. They looked better than some of the candies he had seen in shops and he was very proud.
Leon hummed his favorite song as he made honeycomb with chipped teeth bits, slivered almonds, and vanilla extract. Certain body parts needed to be boiled or baked before they were edible. The ears – minus their gages – were fried in peanut oil before being filled with caramel and pecans and dipped in gooey chocolate. The fingers were separated and cleaned and the meat was sliced thinly and crisped like pancetta. Then it was candied along with lemon slices and used as a topper for lemon truffles. The rest of the body and the organs would be used later on in the weekend, divided up for stews and chili’s, but there was one last dessert that Leon had wanted to make. Something new.
He poured almond bark onto a piece of greased parchment paper. Then he added dried cranberries, roasted walnuts, and pretzel crumbs. Next was the hard part. Leon wanted the man’s face. But he wanted it covered in caramel.
There was no more screaming… or attempted screaming since the tongue was now maple and brown sugar coated like thick cut bacon. Leon took his time. He had to. Caramel didn’t always turn out no matter how many times someone had made it before. It could crystallize, it could burn, and Leon needed it just the right temperature so it would bubble the skin and peel off in one satisfying layer. The sugar melted, butter mixed in along with vanilla, then it was time for the cream because Leon wanted soft caramel, not toffee.
It was perfect.
He carefully held the hot pot over the man’s face. He was still alive and noises escaped his gaping mouth while Leon slowly covered his flesh with the molten liquid. The noises died as the candy set beautifully. It nearly had Leon licking his lips. After it was set, a few hours of cleaning the kitchen later, Leon made a small incision at the hairline. When he pulled, the caramel and the tastily scalded skin came off with ease. He placed it onto the bark, gluing it on with dark, bitter chocolate, and cut the bark into even piece.
Everything was ready.
Leon placed his goodies into his favorite serving box, a blue velvet box lined with black satin. After cleaning himself up and putting the body into his walk-in freezer for later, Leon dressed in his most comfortable pajamas and poured himself a big glass of red wine.
He toasted himself for some of his best work ever and bit into one of his delicacies. Slurping down the sweet liquid of the man’s creamy eye, Leon knew that this was going to be the most relaxing (and delicious) weekend he’d had in months.