Compliments to the Chef

"Are you still working on that?" Marcia gestured to the plate, where a third of the expensive meal remained.

"No, I'm done." The customer leaned back and patted her belly. "Compliments to the chef, though."

"She'll love hearing that. Shall I fetch a box?"

"Ehhhh... no, thanks."

Marcia's solicitous smile faded over several seconds. "No box?"

Another waiter passed by. "What's going on?"

"She doesn't want a box, Jenny." Jenny dropped a wine glass but didn't seem to care.

"No box?"

Marcia grew pale. "What do we do?"

"Well, we don't tell her."

"Of course not!"

"Maybe we can sneak it past her..."

"Yes!" Marcia pushed the plate into Jenny's hands. "You do it," she hissed. Jenny pushed back with a protest, but Marcia insisted. "It's my table. If I do it, she'll know something's up. You have to!"

Jenny inhaled deeply, concealed the remnants of the meal beneath another plate, and disappeared into the kitchen. A moment later, indecipherable shouts, pitched high with alarm, rang out. The chef burst from the kitchen. She ran through the restaurant sobbing into her toque, and fled into the night.

Marcia looked at the slack-jawed customer. "I really wish you'd taken the box."