The thrilling conclusion to Part 1 of the clash between the lifelong rivals, Guy Fieri and Papa John, from my NYT Best Selling novel from my critically acclaimed YA fiction series, available on Amazon or wherever books are sold.
Another clash of metal on metal. The heat where the peel and the spatula hit ignited a spray of oil in the air in a fat arc of flame. John swung his peel with inhuman speed, Guy struggled to find his bearings. Even when he could dodge the peel, the flying debris might hit his eyes. Clang. Clang. CLANG. with each furious block, another curl of flame rippled from the metal. Fieri felt his spatula ring in his hand like a bell. He wasn’t sure how much more it could take. He’d have to improvise. He began to evade towards the frier, and slid his spatula under the patties to fling them at John, but they stuck strangely. He sniffed the air, and John laughed.
“What’s that smell, Fieri?! What’s that smell!?” He swung his peel back to indulge in Guy’s horror. Guy couldn’t stop himself, not could he complete the words. “You…you’ve seasoned angus with…with…”
“That’s RIGHT, Guy!” screamed John. “I seasoned them with Bondo! With polyester resin! I feel it adds a cinnamonny kick that even cinnamon can’t match!” Guy was panicking, he flung disk after disk of beef/plastic patties at John, who spun his peel to deflect them all. “Oh Guy, you really will have to do better than that!” and with that he brought the peel down, glancing off Guy’s knee, into the ground where it smashed a hole into the stage. Guy cried out in pain, and lept backward, stumbling on his injured leg, hopping for balance.
John hefted the peel like an oversized hatchet. “You’re too slow, Fieri. You can’t stop what’s coming. You can’t stop what I’m becoming.”
“You’ve become a monster, John! You’ve turned your back on your friends, on your teachers!”
“They were NEVER my teachers! And clearly, you were never my friend. I am doing something great, and no one is going to stop me! I don’t have to be weak just because you’re scared!”
John hefted the peel like a spear and hurled it. Its weight seemed to tear the air around it. Fieri’s eyes went wide, and he made a sequence of hand signs, teleporting himself across the arena. Where he had been, the massive peel had smashed a new hole in the seats and wall. John laughed, recovering the peel, and Guy heaved for breath. John charged around the arena now, smashing after Guy, swatting after him like a cat after a mouse. Guy evaded again and again. He gasped, “Think of the cost to your work! Think of what you stand to lose, even if you succeed!”
“I HAVE!” John bellowed, with another swing of the peel. This one caught Guy on his injured leg, possibly broke another bone. Fieri fell into the seats, the stink of John’s abominations around him. John appeared above him, pinning him to the ground with the peel on his chest.
“I’m going to break you now, Fieri. And after I do, I’m going to tell the people of MY city, what your Donkey Sauce has been all along. You’re no hero. You’re a fraud, Guy. When the people find out it was just garlic aioli, they won’t even be mad at me for ridding them of you. Ridding them of your lies. And then they’ll crumble under the weight of the farce you made.” The look in John’s eyes was venom.
Fear flashed in Guy’s face, and he shoved the peel off his chest with a mighty thrust of his spatula. “You’ve lost your way, John.” Another heave against the peel, a little more determined now. “It was never about the name. It was never about a brand, or a fad.” He angled his spatula to pry himself out from under the peel, and calmly stood up. John stared in disbelief. “It was about only one truth. It was about Flavor.”
“Don’t presume to lecture me, Fieri!” John rushed in again with all the fury of Papas past. Guy was injured, but he HAD to win. He had to do anything he could. The peel wove in and out of Guy’s vision, and he met it each time with his spatula. It reminded him of younger years, when he and John would train together, John the heir to a mighty lineage, Guy nothing but a scrappy upstart. His shirt flowed around him, the flames dancing with life and heat. John couldn’t land a blow.
John grasped the peel with two hands and tried to bring it down like a pike. Guy blocked it with the end of the spatula, sparks glinting off the metal.
“You’re sweating, John,” Guy managed to say, “You know what they say about people who can’t take the heat in the kitchen.”
John’s face crumpled into a mask of anger and agony. He spat as he brought the peel in again and again, each blow deflected by the spatula. “DO NOT SPEAK THE ELDER WORDS TO ME YOU BUMBLING FOOL!!!” A seemingly endless rain of blows fell on Guy, the last one hitting him so hard between the eyes that even though he blocked most of the force, the peel split his Oakleys across his nose bridge. The two men paused, heaved. Guy calmly removed the broken glasses, the gift that John’s Papa himself had given Guy upon his acceptance to the Kitchen Academy all those years ago.
Guy’s face no longer wore an expression. The two men circled each other, matching step for deliberate step. Gauging. Guy looked straight into John’s eyes and saw nothing. No memory. No love or hope. An animal. John struck. Guy countered. John swung, Guy deflected. John retreated. Guy advanced. “You will not stop me, Guy! You won’t hold me back anymore!” Guy breathed deeply. “No, John. You hold yourself back. You will undo yourself.”
John roared again and dove at Guy. he was blind with rage. His strikes were sloppy, easy to deflect, and something was draining from Guy. There was no more fear, there was a great sadness. How far had John fallen? He had once held so much promise, the long line of fathers John. Now he was like a beast. “You know what you have to do, Guy.” He heard the voice in his heart.
Time seemed to expand, and he looked around himself to see them all, to taste their flavor profiles, vivid as like never before. The Iron Chefs with their stoic, grave faces. The betrayer Bobby Flay with his amoral grin. Remy the rat. The chairman of Kitchen Stadium. “But…i can save him. If I can make him see the error, I can save him!”
The chairman took a thoughtful bite of his bell pepper, and Guy tasted it in his own mouth. “To end this, Guy. To end this would be mercy.” The battle seemed to rage infinite in front of him, but still Guy stood in counsel with the chefs. “But the only thing that could do that…surely you’re not saying I should-“ “Yes, Guy. You must use THAT recipe.” said Remy. Guy looked at Flay, the outcast. Flay smiled and said, “better make it count.”
And then they were gone. Guy was deflecting stabs and swipes from John. With a powerful motion, he knocked John back, shattering the peel and spatula at once. As John stood in shock, Guy began forming his qi into a ball at his side. His qi began to take shape: a core of beef. A layer of spicy italian sausage. A layer of bacon. A layer of habanero cheese. a crust of sugar. John’s thoughts raced: “it’s not possible! no one can-“ qi flowed down the lines of Guy’s body and materialized in a tangy tomato sauce that warped around the dish in his hands. “I’m sorry” he whispered.
He released the dish. It struck John in the mouth, and the room was silent. John was somehow very far away. Guy watched as John’s taste buds over-reacted, sending a surge of power through him, unraveling his mortal form. John was experiencing pure flavor, and it was killing him.
A tear fell from John’s once noble eye, and Guy and John saw each other not as warriors, but as men. John fought for his last remaining strength to summon the words. “It…it really was a spicy meat a’ball…” and he smiled and drooled a little. John faltered, and Guy rushed to catch him. He cradled John’s head in his hands. John looked at his old friend. “my…my compliments t-to the…“ it was too much for Guy, and he bowed his head over John’s still body, heaving with tears. The sound of Guy’s agony filled the broken stadium.
He was alone. The chefs past were gone. The line of Papas was rent asunder. Guy heard his voice in his mind, “I’m going to leave flavor town. I’m never going to cook again.”