Soul Food

Harold looked down at the square ceramic dish put in front of him.  The lobster’s bright red contrasted the dark green sautéed spinach.  The spinach was flanked by a petite tenderloin steak with perfect crisscrossed grill marks perched on a mound of white mashed potatoes with golden rivers of butter flowing onto the plate.  The food was a work of art and almost made Harold’s eyes water as much as his mouth.

Harold picked up his fork and knife and paused to offer a silent prayer of thanks.  Then he realized this was his last meal and dropped the prayer like a hot potato.  Harold would be able to offer it in person soon enough.  The more he thought of that, the less hungry he became.

“Can I have this to go?” he asked the guard watching him from the far side of the room.

That elicited a chuckle from the guard.  “That joke never grows old,” the guard said.  “You go ahead and eat, Harold.  Otherwise you’ll just fret the rest of your life away.”  The guard chuckled at his own joke.

Harold pasted on a tight smile.  No need to offend yet another being on this planet with so little time left.  He mechanically took a scoop of potatoes and placed it wearily into his mouth.  His tongue exploded in ecstasy.  No matter how much he didn’t want to enjoy this taste of the earth he was about to depart from, his senses told him to bugger off.

Soon he lost himself in the solace of food made to not only nourish the body, but it nourished his soul.  Maybe if he had had a meal like this before pulling the trigger thirty two times, things might have been different.  Then again, he could never have afforded this meal so maybe this was all a means to an end.  That was crappy logic, but when you were down to the brass tacks you grabbed onto anything to make it normal.

As Harold left his fork and knife on the mostly empty plate, he pushed back with his almost full stomach.  “That was the best meal I have ever had,” he told the guard, “definitely worth the price of admission.”

The guard shook his head as he opened the door leading back to the last few hours of Harold’s life.  “If you say so,” the guard said.

Harold smiled and stood up.  Maybe not, but at least he will die with a full stomach.

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