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Fiction Horror

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. Edward counted nine stalks of bamboo growing out of the small planter that lived on his kitchen counter. Edward unlocked his iPhone and opened the Compass app. 

“Perfect,” he said to himself. The front of the lucky bamboo stand faced east.

The kitchen timer pealed. The aroma of freshly baked eggplant parmesean filled Edward’s urban highrise apartment. He pulled the casserole from the oven, placed it on a four-leaf clover shaped trivet, and covered the dish in foil. The digital clock on the stove turned to 6:55 pm. 

Edward lit three white candles that rested in an elaborate dining room table candlestick holder. It had been over a year since he used his dining room. Sheila and he ate their last meal here. Edward didn’t cook much, but he made a good eggplant parmesean. Shelia stopped eating meat because the chemo threw her taste off. She loved Edward’s eggplant parmesean.

The buzzer rang. Edward ran to the door. “Hello,” he said.

“Ed, it’s me,” Susan said.

“C’mon up.” Edward pressed the button under the intercom. He nearly tripped on the Laughing Buddha on his way back to the kitchen. He rubbed the Laughing Buddha’s belly for good luck.

“Plates, utensils . . . OK,” Edward said. 

Susan knocked on the front door with a shave-and-a-haircut. Edward returned the “two-bits” with the undoing of the two deadbolts. He opened the door and saw Susan in the doorway with a bottle of beaujolais and a little box with two cupcakes in it. 

“Hi!” Susan said with an extended “I,” smiling ear to ear.

“Susan, come in, please. May I take your coat?”

Susan paused. “I’m a cold body. Do you mind if I leave it on for a bit?”

“Not at all. Come in, come in.”

“A koi pond? You gotta be kidding me!” 

Susan ran to the koi pond in Edward’s foyer, almost dropping the beaujolais. Five koi swam in circles, their colors swirling in rainbows, reflecting the low light of Edward’s apartment.

“They bring good luck,” Edward said.

“Really? How so?”

“Legend has it that, long ago, a koi was determined to reach the dragon gate. The dragon gate was a magical portal that rested on top of a far away mountain that lay miles and miles upstream from the koi. Against all odds, the koi swam upstream, fighting the current all the way. Eventually, she reached the gate. When he passed through, she turned into a glorious dragon.”

“Was she a luck dragon? You know, like Falcor?”

“Who’s Falcor?” Edward asked.

“He was the dragon from the Neverending Story.”

“The legend comes from China, so I think the koi dragon probably looked more like a Chinese Dragon.”

“Like Mushu?”

Edward paused and scrunched his brow, looking upward.

“The dragon in Mulan. Eddie Murphy voiced him,” Susan said.

“Oh, yeah, I remember Mushu. Well, Mushu is the Disney version of the concept, I guess. The great Chinese dragons were much larger and, well, characatured, like flying samauri. Look over here.” Edward walked a few steps down toward the kitchen and pointed to sculpture of a chinese dragon he had in the hallway. 

“Is that a pearl in his hand?”

“Yes,” Edward said. “Some say the chinese dragon controls wisdom, propsertity, and power when it controls pearl. Sometimes the pearl is on fire. Sometimes the pearl can mean energy or immortality. Sometimes, it means the moon.”

“Smells great in here.”

“Yes, eggplant parmesean, as promised.” 

Edward and Susan sat and ate. Susan poured the wine. Edward talked. Susan listened. 

“Thanks for coming over,” Edward said.

“My pleasure.”

“It’s been a while since I’ve, well, been in the company of someone who listens as well as you do.”

“Your story is . . . real,” Susan said. “Do you think all this helps? The good luck charms, I mean.”

“God, I hope so,” Edward laughed. 

“To lose your wife, your mother, your dog, and your job in the same year would be too much for me.” 

“Are you sure I can’t take your coat?” Edward asked.

“How about a cupcake?” 

“Don’t mind if I do.” Edward wolfed down the vanilla plain-jane cupcake with the firey icing.

“Have another.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m full. And, besides, I’m around these all day.”

“When do you work next? At the bakery?” Edward swallowed the devil’s food cupcake almost whole.

“Tomorrow, 5 am,” Susan said.

Edward cringed at the thought of getting up that early. 

“What did you think of the eggplant parmesean?” Edward asked, his mouth partially full. 

“Loved it. But . . . "

“But what?”

“Nevermind.”

“No, tell me,” Edward insisted.

“Ok, ok. Needs salt.”

Edward lowered his chin to his chest and let out a long low sigh. 

“No, it was good. It’s just that I like a little more salt, that’s all,” Susan said. 

“I don’t keep salt in the house. I don’t even touch the stuff if I can’t help it.”

“Hypertension?”

“Don’t want to spill it.”

Susan’s dropped her jaw and turned her head, eyes wide. Then she laughed wildly.

“C’mere. I want to show you something,” Edward said. Susan straightened in her chair. Edward got up and headed toward the bedroom.

“I want to show you a picture,” Edward explained. Susan got up from the table and followed Edward. Edward nearly tripped but caught himself.

“Woah,” Edward said. “I must have had too much wine.” 

Once in the bedroom, Edward gestured to the large framed print of The Last Supper.

Michelangelo?” Susan asked.

“Di Vinci,” Edward said. “Now, tell me what you see.” 

“Well, it’s the last supper from the Bible. If I remember correctly, this was the moment Jesus broke bread and told his diciples that one of them would betray him.”

“Correct. And, who betrays him?”

“Judas. But which one is he in the painting?”

“Look closer,” Edward said.

Susan scanned the painting at each of the figures. “I can’t tell.” 

“Look for the spilt salt shaker,” Edward said.

“There.” Susan pointed to the man on the left side of the table, about half way down, with the spilt salt shaker in front of him. 

“That’s it. That’s why I don’t keep salt in the house. I don’t want to end up like Judas.” 

“But, don’t you think Judas had a choice? He chose his luck.”

Edward staggered backwards. “Excuse me, I’m getting dizzy.”

“Don’t you think what happened to him was just? I mean, he sold out the Son of Man. Shouldn’t there be a special place in hell for him?”

Edward coughed. Blood dotted his balled fist. “What the?”

“Edward, do you think one should pay for one’s crimes?”

“Susan, what are you do—” 

“I know, Edward! I know everything! I know you smothered your wife! You poisoned your mother! And you killed your dog! You . . . you . . . liar! As for your job, well, you just kind of suck at being a lawyer.” Susan’s voice grew deeper and distorted as she ranted. 

“How’d—“ Edward passed out and fell forward into The Last Supper, knocking it off the wall. 

Susan undid her coat. She pulled out a large machete. She cut off Edward’s head. She held it just like the Chinese dragon in the hallway held her pearl. 

Then, she transformed into a beautiful yellow Chinese dragon, ate Edward’s head, and flew out the bedroom window into the night. 

June 16, 2021 00:58

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3 comments

Jamie Harvey
21:54 Jun 23, 2021

What!?!?! Loved it. I had wondered why she wouldn’t take off her coat. Wonder if you could switch “cold body” for “cold blooded” for a little foreshadowing 🤷🏻‍♀️ When Edward is explaining the legend of the koi you used buy pronouns he and she. Was that intentional? Great job 👍🏻 Keep going!!

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Mike Garrigan
23:09 Jun 23, 2021

Thanks. Yes, the pronoun play was intentional.

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Jamie Harvey
11:32 Jun 24, 2021

👍🏻 Again really good. Loved that ending.

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