Behind the Dumpster
The pot was boiling over.
It was written on the ticket.
Order number given.
Everyone had added a little.
Death is best Seasoned
in dead of winter...
A dash of cardamon,
a touch of cinnamon,
a few chips of cedar.
All are welcome
at the Bazaar,
hurry and take
from the street
the scurry of feet.
Shovel the paths.
Tis the season.
A cup of cider,
A box of sweet meat
Smoke in the distance.
Bells are ringing...!
Jostling in the lines.
The man in navy cardigan
The woman in wheels,
The empty soup kitchen.
The child, frost bitten.
Season's murder challenge @Obuck
After weeks of searching across various towns in Washington County, Marla, our real estate agent finally showed us the house of our dreams. It was May and spring was in full bloom.
“I can’t believe this is in our budget! Why didn’t you show this to us when we first started looking? It checks all the boxes,” I said to Marla as we toured the nearly 8,000 square foot home.
“And then some,” my pyromaniac husband added as he investigated one of the three fireplaces the house boasted, this one in the family room.
“It wasn’t in your budget then,” Marla replied. “It’s been on the market over a year now, but they just lowered the asking price.”
“By half a million dollars, I would say,” yelled my husband from the living room. “This fireplace is almost big enough to walk in.”
“You must be kidding me. I can’t believe no one has snatched it up.” The first floor had an open floor plan with the kitchen flowing into an informal eating area flowing into a family room. Floor to ceiling windows covered one wall. Down a step, also on the first floor, were a formal dining room that, on one side, exited into a circular sitting area with picture windows and window seats wrapping around the room; on the other side it exited into a living room with another fireplace and French doors all along the wall, exiting onto a deck overlooking the backyard. On the far side of the living room there was an enclosed porch with more floor to ceiling windows on three sides. The artist in me was in love with the light.
Upstairs, the master bedroom took up half the floor; walls of windows revealed incredible views. A fireplace and a balcony beyond French doors completed the picture. The master bath was something out of House Beautiful, with heated floors, a sunken bath, separate shower and toilet, double sinks as well as a sauna. There were four bedrooms all together. Two shared a bathroom with a rainfall shower. We would turn them into home offices, I thought - we both worked from home. The third had a separate bath, with a large claw-foot tub. It would be the guest room.
Standing on the balcony, my breath was taken away. The house was surrounded by a beautiful, lush lawn with myriad colorful beds of flowers, some in bloom, others promising a delightful summer. Behind the house there was a pond flanked by Adirondack chairs and a fire pit. Beyond the lawn, were 96 acres of forest (according to Marla) with trails and a meandering stream with myriad fruit and other trees filled with birdsong. In the distance, I could see several mountain peaks, some still holding on to winter white.
“Are there bodies in the basement?” I asked.
“What?” Marla whipped her head around, not laughing as I had intended but rather looking a little distressed.
“Joking. I just don’t get why it’s still for sale. Does it flood or have termites or have a faulty well or septic tank?”
“Uh, no. It really is perfect,” she said.
“We’ll take it.”
We placed an offer $100,000 below the asking price. It was accepted within minutes of our submission. According to Marla, the owner had relocated to another state some time ago due to health reasons and, perhaps due to medical bills, was desperate to sell. The house was ours by August. We had settled in by late September when the reds, oranges and yellows of fall provided more evidence that we had found our forever home.
The nearest house was a mile away, the village was five miles down a winding road to the valley. Our first visit to the local farmer's market was an opportunity to meet some of our neighbors.
"So, you moved into the Robinson house, huh? I'm Eloise Lawlor," said the tall woman with long, iron-gray hair and purple-rimmed glasses selling pottery and earrings she'd made herself.
"Yes, yes we did," I replied. "I'm Ally. This is my husband, Alec."
Shaking hands, Eloise continued, "We were surprised it got a buyer so quickly."
"Quickly? Marla said it was on the market for a while. I would have thought it would go in hours not months.”
"Well, yes, but most get a little queasy when they hear that more than a dozen people were murdered there.”
"No one told you?"
"Um, no, that wasn't on the information sheet."
"Eloise..." said a balding, heavyset man who’d come and stood beside her.
"Tom..." she said, pursing her lips and crossing her arms.
"Hi, I'm Tom, Eloise's husband," he said, shaking our hands. "Don't pay her any mind. The Robinsons' is a great place and we're happy to welcome you to our town."
"I'm Ally. Thanks."
"I’m Alec. What is Eloise talking about?"
Tom looked at Eloise, rolled his eyes and then smiled at us saying, "I say let the past lie. You really don’t want to taint your feelings for your new home based on events that happened almost two years ago, do you?”
"Does everyone in town know the story?"
"Of course. It's a small town. We almost hit 2000 at the last census,” he responded, a twinkle in his eye.
"So, I guess we should know it, too."
Tom sighed. "If you say so. Go on then, Eloise. I know you're dying to tell them," he said, flopping down into the beach chair behind their display table.
"Well, the Robinsons had owned that property for almost as long as this town has been around. The most recent generation, Edna and Bill, inherited from Bill’s parents back in ’90 or ’91. They knocked down the old house, which I guess needed knocking down, and built the architectural delight that is now your home.
“Anyway, they lived there for 30 years then Edna got sick, and they needed to move to a warmer, drier climate. They’re in Arizona now. Rather than sell, they decided to rent the house via Airbnb. Easy to do around here through the Mad River Valley real estate office which works in conjunction with Mad River Cleaning and the local general store to make things easy for the owner and the renter. If you ever want to look into it…”
“Eloise, they just moved in.”
“They might want to do it in the future.”
“Fine. Anyway, two winters ago, we had the worst blizzard on record. The roads were blocked for more than a week. When the cleaning crew went to prepare the house for its next group of skiers, they saw that the previous visitors hadn’t left before the blizzard. Two SUVs, a Corvette, a Porsche and a McClaren were under several feet of snow. No footsteps anywhere.
“They went in. The house was freezing. The heat had been shut off and all the fireplaces were cold. They called out, but no one answered. They checked all the rooms, but the house was empty of people although all their stuff was still in the closets. Most of the common living areas looked unused. In the kitchen, there was a pot of water on the stove filled with rose petals, but there was nothing on the counters or tables; the dishwasher was empty. Figuring they got caught out skiing and hadn’t made it back yet, they sent a note to their boss and got to work.
“As the heat started coming up, the house started to stink. Trying to figure out where the smell was coming from, they realized it was the basement. Having watched too many horror movies, -”
“Or just having good sense,” Tom threw in.
“They called the public safety office as well as the county sheriff’s office. Then they went outside to wait.”
A couple had come up to the table and were listening to the story along with Alec and me. The gentleman interrupted.
“Talking about the massacre again, Eloise?”
“Jack! I didn’t get there yet.”
“Are these the new owners?” Jack said, looking at us.
“Yes, I’m Alec. This is my wife, Ally.” We shook hands.
“I’m Jack Bodner. This is my wife, Cheryl. Don’t let Eloise scare you. This is a great town. I’ve lived here all my life and nothing like this has ever happened before or since.”
“What happened?” Alec asked.
“Massacre?” I said at the same time.
“As I was saying,” Eloise continued, “the cleaning crew went to their van to wait for law enforcement. When they arrived, the crew let them in and all were almost overcome by the noxious odor. They opened the basement door and confirmed that the smell was emanating from there. They turned on the light and headed down the stairs.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t hear about it,” interrupted Cheryl. “It was all over the news for weeks. Some crime scene technician leaked the photos online. I almost threw up when I saw them.”
“I told you not to look at them, Cheryl.”
“Someone online said the picture looked like a Rubens painting, Massacre of the Innocents. I wanted to see.”
“Can I please finish the story?”
“So, they found all the guests on the floor of the basement, a mass of bubbling, rotting flesh. From what the coroner could figure out, they had all been in the basement, perhaps drinking and playing billiards. Then someone or someones introduced them to an ax and a chainsaw. Had to be more than one since there were 16 of them. Figure a single person could have been overpowered.”
“Unless they were all high and drunk. You know how those people can be,” said Cheryl.
“16!?” I screeched.
“Yeah. They were arranged just so on the floor of the basement and covered with some sort of acid. The walls were painted with blood.”
I looked at Alec. “We never looked at the basement.”
“Oh, they had Hazmat out there and any other number of professionals to investigate then clean it out. The Robinsons paid a good amount to make it like new.”
“How do you know what they paid, Eloise?” asked her husband.
“Oh, I know things,” she said. He shook his head, muttering under his breath something about nosy busy bodies.
“Anyway, that’s the story. They have no evidence. No clues. No suspects. Any fingerprints found belonged to the guests. There was no forced entry. The security cameras around the property don’t show any unusual activity. And they couldn’t locate anyone who might want any or all the guests dead. It’s a mystery,” she finished before plopping down next to her husband.
“Well, it’s great to meet you both. Welcome and I wish you many years of happiness in your new home.”
“Thank you, Eloise. Nice to meet you all,” I choked out before we headed to our car.
We were silent on the drive home. Once there, we sat in the garage a minute or two before we looked at each other and started laughing.
“I bet they name it one day: The legend of the Robinson house massacre.”
“Seriously. I couldn’t write it better than Eloise tells it.”
“I bet she’ll be saying 20 by next summer,” I laughed as we entered the house. “I’m gonna start setting up my studio on the screened in porch.”
“No, thanks, though.”
“K. Gonna set up my office. I have some work to do.”
The months passed and fall turned to winter. Early January found us stocking up at the general store after hearing another twice-in-a-lifetime blizzard was forecast.
“Take care folks. You know what happened at your place the last time there was a blizzard,” the owner said without a smile.
“Kathy!” said one of the other customers to her.
“Just sayin’, Eleanor!”
“No need to go scaring folks like that,” Eleanor replied.
“No worries, ma’am. We don’t scare that easily,” Alec said to Eleanor.
“I’m Eleanor Brigsby. I know you are Alec and Ally. Small town.” She smiled. “We were good friends of Edna and Bill before they moved away.”
“Yes. Spent many an afternoon sitting in their backyard over the years. Our kids used to play together. Lovely family.”
“I was just telling my Joe,” she indicated the man next to her, “you could be a Robinson. You have the same electric blue eyes they were known for around here.”
“Really? Neat. I wish I could have met them.”
“Me, too. I’m sure they would have liked you. They lost both their children not long ago. Around your age, I suspect.”
“Oh no! That’s so sad.”
“Yes. Tragic, actually. Both were freak accidents.”
“You don’t say? I’m really sorry to hear that.”
“Yes, Edna, already ill, never recovered.”
“Oh no…what a shame.” I paused. “Well, be safe. Roads are already getting bad,” I said after getting my change from Kathy. The ladies and Joe murmured their goodbyes as I followed Alec out of the store.
As we got close to home, I said, “Was that weird?”
“Don’t go borrowing trouble. She’s just a nice old lady.”
“If you say so.”
“I know so. No one knows. There has never been any mention of any way someone could have gotten in the house undetected. And lots of people have blue eyes. No one has recognized you. You haven’t been here since you were a kid.”
“You’re right. I look more like my dad’s family than the Robinson’s anyway. And you did wipe out all references to the tunnel in the underground railroad literature. My computer wizard,” I said leaning over to kiss him as he pulled into our garage. “I knew it was only a matter of time before the house would be ours. I’ve loved it since the summer I came here to visit Uncle Bill and Aunt Edna.”
“Uncle Bill never got along with my mom so that was the only time I ever got to come visit before they stopped talking to each other at all. Glad I remembered the tunnel.”
“And that it was your secret. I can’t believe no one else knew and that you didn’t tell anyone.”
“My cousins followed their parents’ lead. They didn’t like me. I had a lot of time on my hands to explore. Why would I share my discovery with them?
“If they would have just sold it to us, no one would have gotten hurt. But noooo, they wanted to keep it in their family. As if I didn’t count. I mean after they were in Arizona and then both their kids were dead: Why did they need it?”
“Ha! Whose house is it now?” I said, doing a little dance as I opened the door to the kitchen.
“Alec, were you cooking something before we left?”
On the stove, the pot was boiling over. The scent of roses filled the air. I turned right and saw the basement door was ajar.
We looked at each other.
Breathe Upon Spring Meadows
I had watched her there, watched the mound slowly erode over and the soil turn green with fauna. There was something so beautiful about her decay that I could picture her very skin sliding from her bones and the Earth churning her innards back into it as nutrients to supplement the growth of green and wildflowers.
May marked the first of that hot summer day, when the first set of heat wrestled upon us and broke down the locals into sheltering inside, a little earlier than usual this year. The electric companies were having fits, but Jeanne would know none of that. No, for her, she was already resting in the damp soil beneath the empty plot a few acres South of the neighborhood where developers would be prospecting in the coming three years after the petitions were through from the neighbors, and all assessments were to be completed. Assessments, which would be around the time everyone forgot the project even existed in the first place. Only then would they would finally dig her up.
I had contemplated being the one to lay her out in the street, in the road, so someone might discover her, but I feared of the desecration of her corpse by some idiotic car passing her over and then breaking her delicate body apart. I didn't want to know she was dissected by some medical practitioner or whoever the likes does that either.
No. I wanted her intact, where I could pass by her and see what progress she had fueled from Nature's express desire to utilize her in better ways than some expensive lacquer coffin. I wished she were alive too, but we were much too late for that. No, instead she was dead. Dead and gone, but so was her murderer. For it was not myself, but the drunkard piece of shit I regularly requited ought to have been dead long ago. He was dead though. Now. And that was another reason she couldn't be dug up, because if she was - oh and if she was - then they might be able to discern the marks that bastard left upon her. They might even be able to find the tattered bits of her dress covered in blood at her stomach where she had clutched what would have been a baby.
I wish it were my baby, but she wasn't unfaithful and despite it all, my pot boiled over when he struck her for the last time at the end of this Northern winter. Still, despite our entire situation, I hardly had much of a record and she was just another human that once walked the plains of mortality where I did not. Murder. True murder, was no pinnacle of my time and species and I would never beget the thought of turning to it if my frustrations saw fit. No, but I would delight in the bits and pieces the police were probably still turning up of what I sprinkled across the highways and down dark alleys of the piece of shit I was slowly tearing apart up until the beginning of Spring. The one I had killed, then brought back for the sole purpose of dismembering him as his mind turned from alcohol to blood lust then to pure and agonizing Hunger as I kept him barely on until he wasn't alive or undead anymore. You could say he was a poor bastard, you could pity him, but I am not you and you are not me.
A soup for the soul
The pot was boiling over. Ashton stuck his fork into the heart
It stopped beating in late July; the only part alive in her.
The investigation was futile. No one seemed to care about the young woman, so when the organ was declared missing, the police brushed it off.
The parents of the woman, however, continued searching on their own. They discovered she was a stellar worker but had left the firm with a bad reputation. Ashton was the only one that cared, the boss later remarked.
However, they were too late because he would soon be reunited with his beloved.
The dishes overflowed. The rug was a crumpled mass, an unintentional booby trap. The soup was half finished, and the pot was boiling over.
Hastily, I scrambled to the stove and shut it off. While he sprawled himself over the couch, beer in hand. The TV mindlessly babbled as he watched it without regard to the hot mess around us.
"David, honey, could I have some help here?"
"Ah, just do it, yerself, ya old hag!" He waved an uncaring hand at me. Slowly, I brought myself back to work. I washed the chipped tea cup as I wondered where the charming man I once knew went. The yellow mustard went back into the cupboard as my heart sunk.
"He was never that person," a small voice in my head hissed. "He knows you love him too much to complain as you're neck up in junk!"
Silent years fell as I sat by the window of our bedroom. Another Christmas came and left with poisoning isolation.
My family seemed so far away, and my friends weren't able to contact me anymore.
No more cherries I got to pick from bushes in the country. No playing in the tennis courts. No putting on fluffy socks as my brother and I raced across tile floors.
Now, my life was a shadow of what it once was. It is filled with creaky wooden planks and a deadbeat.
The only joy I could get was from the neighbors' Christmas lights. Oh, how beautiful they were flickering crimson and green.
Eventually, night would fall, and I had to tear my eyes away from the lights.
As I slept, a strange thought entered my mind. I should leave. Go home for Christmas. Slowly, I crawled out of bed. I packed a bag long into the night. Once the work was done, I went back to sleep, waiting for the morning.
Christmas morning. I tentatively crept down the stairs. Pulling my backpack on, I skidded toward the door.
The bump of my shoulder on the shelt shocked my soul out of my body. Everything froze as his angry footsteps came closer. Louder. And louder. My heartbeat stopped.
"What the HELL are you doing!?" His ranting was cut short when he saw the backpack. My breath was caught in my throat.
"Are you leaving me," he shouted.
"No! No! I just wanted to go home for Christmas please—"
I don't remember anything after that. I huddled myself in the corner. He had been gone for hours, but it still felt as if he was right beside me.
Between sobs, one thought entered my mind.
His demise would be mine.
I'm not sure where I got the idea of how he would die. Maybe I wanted him to suffer the way I have for four years. Maybe it was inspiration from the pranks my brother pulled on each other in the brighter days of my youth.
Whatever the idea came from. I worked tirelessly. Tying and taping. Screwing and measuring. Then all I had to do was wait. Patiently wait like a predator for their prey.
Soon the prey did come. Staggering drunk, per usual. I faked washing dishes waiting for the inevitable tug.
And it came.
He went flying and flailing. His voice pierced my ears. Still, a smile plastered my face.
Now he knew what agony felt like.
I waited for silence. His breathing was ragged as I walked over to him.
The look on his face— Ah hah ha! Oh how I've waited for this.
I could only smile as his breathing cut short.
As I stood over his motionless form, the trails of blood that swarmed out of his body filled me with euphoria.
My lips curved into a small smile as I addressed him.
"Merry Christmas, honey," I said. He gave no reply— of course, he couldn't. What was I thinking? I giggled at my own foolishness.
"I wish my gift was as special as yours," I continued. "After all, I've got exactly what I wanted."
A Summer’s Tragedy
It was a hot, airless summer's evening, the type that you get after a humid, windless day. Horrible. The sort that wants to make you want to drop everything and head to the nearest beach and soak in its cold waters until your skin turns blue.
That was not the choice for Doris. She lived in small cottage in Battersea, not far from the park in which funfairs used to be held. Not that she had much fun nowadays, now that her beloved husband, Donald, was dead. Her two sons lived overseas and never visited her.
She opened the patio doors. Not that there was much of a breeze but she could not afford air-conditioning and she hoped, with the setting sun, some cool air would refresh her stifling home. There was none.
She opened the door of her freezer and took out some carrots, peas and mushrooms. She was a vegetarian and did not eat meat. In another pot, she began cooking rice - a copious amount because she loved rice. She added too much of it to a medium sized saucepan and the boiling water spilled onto the stove. In fact, you could say: "The pot was boiling over."
She was so engrossed in her cooking that she did not hear he stranger creep behind her, clad in black, his eyes concealed by a black balaclava, a knife in his hand. She was still tidying up the mess that the overfull saucepan had caused and did not even have time to react when he plunged his knife into her back, ending her life instantly.
A Fall Meal
The pot was boiling over, but right now, that was the least of her concerns.
Her chest stilled. A chill traveled up her spine. The light above her head flickered, and the sound of crickets outside died out.
She couldn't bring herself to move; her eyes frozen on the man in front of her.
He was in her kitchen.
The Reaper, as the recent newspaper had called him.
He was in her house. In her kitchen. Right in front of her.
A small breath escaped her as the glint of something shiny caught her eye.
Her gaze shifted from a pale mask down to a long, silver knife. She could almost hear the dripping of the crimson liquid that coated it. How many lives had it taken? How many more would it steal?
"I thought I said no more blood in the house," she finally spoke, a snapping tone in her voice.
He didn't respond, but disappeared behind a wall while she turned to tend to the overfilling pot.
"And stop sneaking up on me," she called out, her back facing where he had been standing moments ago.
The loud sound of something heavy being dropped caused her to twist around.
A large, black bag now lay at her feet. The Reaper stood above it, watching ruby blood leak out a tear in the side of the material.
She smiled a wicked grin and grabbed the blade from his hand.
"Dinner's almost ready. Help me carve the meat, darling."
Her Enigmatic Mind
The pot was boiling over. A mountain of broth was being belched out from under the glass lid and drops of brown foam stained the once glistening stovetop. But Florence didn’t notice.
The woman was once again frozen in time. Her blank gaze was focused solely on the plate in her hands, which she had scrubbed several times now. The lid of the pot began to jump, letting out small hisses and chitters, as if it were some uneased animal. Florence paid it no mind. And she probably would have let the stove catch fire if her husband hadn’t walked in then and there.
“What on earth is the matter with you?” Eugene spat, fumbling with the pot, before whipping around to face his now wide-eyed wife. A part of him hoped she would show some sign of surprise, or even cry, but he knew that wouldn’t happen. He knew she would bow her head and whisper a monotonous, “I’m sorry,” before cleaning up the unsightly mess. As she got down on her knees to wipe up the remnant of the spilled broth, he watched her, somewhat dissatisfied with her quiet submission. But he spoke nothing on the matter, for he was a reclusive man, who shut himself in with his own dangerous thoughts. Off he stalked to his study, leaving Florence alone on the kitchen floor.
After completing her task, the woman rose to her feet, unsure of what to do. Eugene had left without a word or gesture to something that needed to be done, and she was momentarily free. What an odd feeling. She blinked. Once, then twice, her eyes slowly losing some of the blankness that so often resided there.
Florence drifted from the kitchen into the hallway, seeing it for what it was, a vast empty space, filled with trinkets and pictures that she had never paid mind to. Her pale fingers ran over a chipped figurine of a praying cherub, before drifting up the rose-patterned wall to the dull oaken frame of a picture. It was of a woman. A woman with black curls, like her, but she was not her, for her eyes shone with contagious glee that Florence had never known. Who was this woman, this strange doppelganger who hung upon the wall?
A biting desire rose up in Florence then, a desire to find out more about the woman who lived on in the house through pictures and embroidery. She went from room to room, her gaze now keen and insightful, for this task had been ordained by her, and her alone. In some rooms she found nothing, but in others she found little hints to another existence before hers, scattered like shards of glass.
At last, her feet landed before the last unexplored terrain. Eugene’s study. A chill of fearful hesitation ran up Florence’s spine, and she stood frozen once more. She wasn’t supposed to enter that room, not unless she had been called. The thought of investigating further began to slip, little by little, into the recess of her hazy mind. But her spirit grabbed at it, snapping her out of her stupor. It wouldn’t let this go. Not now, when she had finally been acting on her own.
She pushed the door open. A small fire was blazing in the hearth, but the room itself was cold in spirit. Eugene was nowhere to be found. There were even more pictures of Florence’s doppelganger here, each lovingly nestled in places where the viewer could pine over them. Beside one of these photographs on a side table, lay a leather-bound book. Florence’s slender hands cradled it as she flipped it open and began to read:
“My darling, my heart aches as I watch you. I cannot stand to watch you wallowing in illness. It pains me to my core.”
The spindly, coarse writing was of her husband’s hand, but what darling was he speaking of? Was this directed towards her? A frown twisted her lips. It couldn’t be. Eugene was seldom affectionate towards her. She read on:
“A part of me rejoices that you near death, for you will be put out of your misery, and I will be able to love the woman who stole the other half of my heart. But, ah–! My mistress does not have your warm smile and eyes, and her touch is cold and teasing, not warm like yours. Yet I love her, in some ways. But it is you that I miss, and long for when the night grows cold, not her. If only- If only I could have both of you at once. If only her cattish spirit was dampened, and she was more mellow and sweet— like you!"
Curious, Florence turned the page, eager to see what other unexpected words would come.
“Who says that I cannot have both? As I write this, I feel young and spry; it is almost frightening. My love, my true love, you may be buried under a willow tree several miles away, but tonight we will speak again! I have found the answer to my problems, dearest. My mistress can become you; I must only alter her mind by way of a surgical procedure. It is called a lobotomy. By midnight, Eloise Walker will no longer be- in her place will remain your meek and tender love.”
The book fell to the wooden floor with a dull crack. And Eloise Walker stood frozen once more, not in time, but in fear. How long had she been living in this house, wearing another woman’s clothes and sleeping in her bed? How long had she donned the mask of this poor soul? She clutched at her face in agony that she did not truly feel, gripping it as if she wanted to rip into her skull and bring back the rest of the memories that had been selfishly stolen away.
Her body convulsed with an unreleased cry, and she shoved it further down into her throat. What would she do now? She couldn’t go on living the way she had, not after reading those sickening pledges of mad love. She must flee. With this thought in mind, Eloise picked the book up.
She did not have to turn around to know that Eugene Spencer stood behind her.
She could practically feel his wide, enraged gaze; hear his lips curling back in a hateful scowl.
The gleam of his hunting rifle bounced off the smooth base of a nearby lamp.
His voice hissed out, raggedly,
“You’re not supposed to be in here, Florence.”
When she did not respond, he gripped the rifle, barking like a rabid dog,
“Did you hear me, Florence? I’ve told you time and time again to stay out- so get out!” He threw a furious gesticulation to the door with his right hand, panting heavily.
An answer then came, not in the soft, monotone voice, but in a rather firm tone that Eugene had nearly forgotten.
“My name is Eloise Walker.”
The man gritted his teeth in a show of savagery that revealed his inner nature, and his finger did not falter as it jerked back fiercely on the trigger. Her words stung. They stung because they were true. But Eugene hated the truth.
That night the fire blazed outside.
Eugene watched with morose, half-hearted satisfaction as the remnants of Eloise were spat out by the flames and carried away by the wind.
That night he would write:
“I feel as if you have died a second death my love. My last connection to you was rather uncooperative, and her folly has been the end of her. I must admit that she was right. An Eloise Walker will never be my Florence. That being said, another woman may be. I simply have to find the right one. And once I do, you will never leave me again."
The sun had just set on the last day of fall. Tomorrow was the winter solstice and what was normally a time for holiday cheer instead this year had a city filled with fear. Three seasons had passed, and each had started with a deadly murder.
The spring equinox found the city waking up to a female college coed laying in West Park. A wide stab wound had pierced her chest as in her hands she held a handful of fresh bluebells. The police had looked and searched but there was no evidence, no rhyme or reason as to why she had to die. As the days warmed up the trail went cold. It seemed as though this case would go unsolved and then, as the dog days of summer began, a new corpse appeared.
On the south beach just before noon a male in his thirties was seen sunbathing. Upon closer inspection a wide stab wound was once again found in his chest. At his side lay half a dozen sunflowers. With motive the same the police quickly connect this death to the previous. However even with this connection they were able to proceed no further. Not one thing linked the two together. Still for months the police followed every little lead they could find.
A new lead did unfortunately appear in the afternoon of the autumnal equinox. Amongst the everchanging trees of East Park eternally slept a mid-aged woman, a wide stab wound emanating from her chest. Two pots of chrysanthemums adorned her either side. While the crime was similar to the others no other connection could be found. Once again months passed, and fall was coming to a close. The entire city was feeling the stress of what tomorrow would surely bring. The pot was boiling over.
As the sun rose on that cold fateful day the tension in the air was palpable. People still had to live their lives though. The streets were filled as they rushed from here to there, last minute shopping or friends and family to visit. There was never anyone by themselves though. Regardless of how simple an errand might seem there were always two people doing it. And so, this is how the day passed, rushed and tense. Soon it was time for the sun to set and people began to relax. An old woman had thus decided to make a visit to North Graveyard on her own.
She had been a widow for five years to the day and every year she would come to pay her late husband a visit. A light snow had begun to fall when she arrived. As she made her way through the graves, she saw someone she knew. It was the florist. He had lost his wife just last year. Knowing herself how hard that first year can be she walked over to see if he wanted any company. He was kneeling over his wife’s grave, mumbling to himself, when she approached.
“Excuse me,” she said.
He looked up at her with dark circles under his eyes. “I was afraid they wouldn’t make it in time,” he said.
“What?” she asked.
“These,” he said as he moved out of the way. The grave was covered in budding crocuses.
“They’re beautiful,” said the woman.
“They were my wife’s favorites,” the man replied. “She loved the changing of the seasons. ‘A time for everything’ she would say. ‘A time to live…’” At this point he was standing up. A pair of pruning shears could be seen in his hand. “…and a time to die.” He raised the shears up high.
“WAIT!” cried the woman, but before she could do anything the man pointed the shears at himself and stabbed himself in the chest. He crumpled to the ground with a wide stab wound and surrounded by flowers.
Damned leaves are turning red
Whistling tune, da da da da. Ba dum ba da ba da dum ba.
Leave, sky under the dome
Flowers, heat’s a burning’s done
Right around the vessel bend
Damned leaves are turning red
Woosh, de do da. Do de da dah. Woosh, de do da. Do de da dah. Braah da da dah. Braah da da dah. Dum da do dah da, braah da do doo dah.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen. Fifteen. Sixteen. Seventeen. Eighteen. Nineteen. Twenty. Twenty-one. Twenty-two. Twenty-three. Twenty-four. Twenty-five. Twenty-six. Twenty-seven. Twenty-eight. Twenty-nine. Thirty. Thirty-one. Thirty-two. Thirty-three. Thirty-four. Thirty-five.
Now the pot’s boiling over.
The man with the plan threw the knife round a handkerchief and stuffed both in his coat pocket. The body no life laid limo yet shocked, transfixed in time, no way or chance of survival.
Steam. An oven left on. A red face, make that two. The water overflows. Now the pot’s boiling over.
Maybe someone will notice the whistling has stopped.