“Would you like to open the wine?”
“Actually, I’d love some Scotch.”
Ella smirked and nodded toward the door. Rhodes turned to find George disappear.
(I guess I am going to have to find the flour on my own.) He made an educated guess and pulled open a cabinet. Every spice and seasoning his heart could desire filled it, but no flour.
“If you wish.” He pulled open the next cabinet, finding the grains, pasta, and – ah-ha! – flour. He measured out a cup, then returned it to its proper place.
“What would you like?”
“Lady’s choice.” Rhodes decided that would be his mantra for the night. He measured out 1/4 cup of the cornmeal George had left on the counter.
Ella produced a remote and hit a button. Mozart’s Requiem began to swell from hidden speakers.
“Perfect,” he murmured. It had been so long he had listened to music, it felt almost like a balm. He could feel his blood pressure lower slightly.
George reappeared with two glasses of Scotch, one neat and one on the rocks. He handed the neat Scotch to Ella, then the Scotch on the rocks to Rhodes. (How did he know?) He had always taken his Scotch neat, but it had been so long since he had ice.
“God, that’s good,” he said, taking a sip. A sound like a balloon slowly deflating made him scowl. He pointed to the hanged man. “He’s going into shock. You’ll want to cut his throat before his heart stops.” He picked up the filet knife and held it to her. “Would you like the honors?”
Ella pushed the knife away and stood. George produced a knife like a magician, and she slid it from his hands. Rhodes watched the sway of her hips as she approached the hanged man, then tilted his head to get a better view. Ella did not display Rhodes’s surgical precision, but she had a kind of grace about her as she swung the knife. The man’s eyes shot wide as the blade sliced cleanly through his throat, severing both carotid arteries, the jugular, and the windpipe, spraying the wall with a lovely plume.
Ella returned the knife to George, who wiped it off and made it disappear again. She wasn’t wearing her smile anymore; She looked bored. Rhodes smirked. He had never been so graceful.
“How did you find this fellow?” he asked, watching as the man convulsed. “Through me?”
“Oh, no,” Ella said. “We let you drop off the radar years ago.” She found a speck of blood on her dress and sighed mournfully. Rhodes took her hand and pulled her back into her seat. He grabbed a bottle of seltzer and some baking powder.
“Thirty years dealing with blood, you learn a few tricks,” he assured her. The spot was over her right thigh.
“We were investigating him for several incidents across the European continent.”
Rhodes poured some seltzer over the stain, dabbed it with a paper towel, then dusted it with the baking powder. Ella watched him with an expression of patient tolerance, but he could see something else in her eyes. He caught George observing as well, his mouth slightly ajar. Rhodes winked at him. He snapped his jaw shut, flashing his teeth momentarily.
“It appears that he was a great admirer of yours.”
Rhodes wrinkled his nose in distaste. He hated it when people claimed that. He busied himself by washing his hands again. He filled a small pot with just enough water to float the organs, added a tablespoon of vinegar, then put it on to boil.
“It almost appeared that he was about to find you out, Doctor.”
“Find me out,” Rhodes repeated. “Well, there’s nothing much to find out anymore.” He opened the spice cabinet and pulled out some garlic powder. Popping it open, he sniffed it, then poured a liberal amount in the bowl of flour and cornmeal. He found two shallow dishes and placed them on the prep table. Opening the fridge, he pulled out the milk. He sniffed it, then poured a small amount into one of the dishes. “Glass of Guinness, please, George.”
George nodded and disappeared.
“The name Victoria popped up a few times.” Ella watched for his response. She could see the muscles in his neck and jaw tighten. “And Judy.”
Rhodes slammed the milk down on the counter, splattering drops across the prep table. His stricken, pale face slowly reddened. He turned to the hanged man and stared, assuring himself that he was dead. The blood wasn’t flowing anymore, but clinging to the man’s ears and dripping slowly.
Ella sipped her Scotch as if nothing were amiss. “Unfortunately, the moment he stepped foot on American soil, he disappeared without a trace, and his hard drive was wiped.”
“How unfortunate.” He sniffed, regaining his composure. He wiped the milk away, then returned the container to the fridge.
George appeared with a glass of Guinness. Rhodes grimaced more than he grinned. Taking the glass, he drained a large amount of it, eyeballed it, then drank a bit more. He wiped the froth from his top lip with his thumb, then sucked it off. He took a measuring cup over to the basin of blood. Kneeling, he attempted to measure out half a cup, but was too distracted by the corpse. He stared at it for a moment, then snaked his hand inside the incision, clutching the man’s bottom jaw and squeezing until it cracked. The wet splintering sound eased his wrath. Withdrawing his hand, he flicked blood and tissue into the basin, and measured out a perfect half-cup of blood. He returned to the counter and poured the Guinness into the blood until he had a full cup, poured the mixture into the empty shallow dish, then drained the remainder of beer.
He washed his hands again.
As soon as the testicles were parboiled, he drained the water from the pot and rinsed the organs. He put a saucepan of oil on the stove to heat. When the organs were cool enough to handle, he sliced them into ovals. He sprinkled them with Kala Namak and fresh ground pepper, then rolled them into the powder mixture. He dipped them into the milk, back into the powder, then into the blood-and-beer mixture.
“How thick-” His voice came out hard. He took a deep breath and composed himself. “How thick would you like your crust?”
Ella flicked her eyes over the ingredients. “Thin,” she replied.
Nodding, Rhodes battered the remaining ovals and tossed them all into the oil. He set out a plate covered in a thick layer of paper towels. When the ovals were all a glistening golden-brown, he fished them out, set them on the paper-towels, and dabbed the excess oil off.
Rhodes opened and closed several cabinets, but could not find what he was looking for. Turning, he almost collided with George. He held up a ramekin.
“Magic man,” Rhodes crooned. He took the ramekin, pulled some cocktail sauce from the fridge, and poured a dollop. He slid the ramekin in front of Ella and tipped the Rocky Mountain oysters into a bowl. Placing it in front of her, he sat down for the first time that day.
“Revenge, mistress,” Rhodes said. “Served hot.”