For those unfamiliar with Sade Smols, the small man I devoured, I insist you read his story before proceeding here. It’s not because I worry you won’t understand what I’m about to tell you, but rather because you need to know what kind of creature I am.
I am a monster. I am a murderer. A cannibal. A savage. And for those reasons, and many more, I decided to take my own life.
I’m an intern working at the Center for Entomology in Colombia. Like all interns, I do the jobs everyone hates: fetching coffee and tea, delivering mail, janitorial work, etc. The hours are long, the pay is nonexistent, and the people are rude. All that said, though, I’m learning a hell of a lot. I get to work with some species seen nowhere else.
The other night, I was mopping the floors. Since the Center is in the middle of the of the rainforest, quite a bit of mud gets tracked in by the researchers and employees. So, every night, usually well after midnight, I’m the last guy in the place until it’s all cleaned up. One of the final rooms I clean is where Scolopendra gigantea are housed.
I hate that room. Despite my love of insects and bugs and spiders and all manner of other creepy-crawlies, giant centipedes scare the hell out of me. They shouldn’t be so big and aggressive; something about them seems out of place in a rainforest that otherwise appears to have an equilibrium among the species. Maybe I’m just a wimp.
After all the schools and municipal cafeterias stopped taking shipments of wild mushrooms from the county co-op, they all came to my company for us to use. Normally, this would be fantastic. Mushrooms make great fertilizer.
I’ve got acres upon acres of property with great soil. It’s such good stuff that people come from all over the country in dump trucks to buy a load and haul it back to wherever they want. Our family’s been caring for the land for going on 200 years now. We’ve been asked to sell the property to big agribusinesses more times than we can count, but we could never give it up. Even when the offers got into the upper seven figures, we’ve been content with the low sixes that come in consistently, year after year.
I got a phone call a month ago from the farm co-op that’s been handling all the local produce for the county’s schools and whatnot. Apparently there’s been no interest in the mushroom glut after little Danny Lansing’s tragic passing. The co-op guy on the phone told me what I already knew: the boy’s death was from an unknown allergic reaction and no one else, as far as he knew, had gotten sick from the mushrooms. I listened and waited for him to tell me what kind of deal he’d give me if I were to buy the whole supply. Continue reading “Far Too Many Mushrooms, part 2”
I always scoffed at the local legend about the tiny people who lived in our town. That’s what the adults talked about when we were growing up – the little helpers who lived in the cracks and crevices of homes who scared away bugs and cleaned up crumbs. I never saw one. No one I knew did. But still, people talked about them as if they were there, like modern fairies.
This morning, I woke up to one standing on my pillow, deftly cleaning a puddle of drool off my pillowcase.
He seemed as startled as I was.
“It’s okay,” he assured me.
I was surprised how loud and clear his voice was, as he was only four inches tall.
“I’m Sade Smols,” he said. “I’ve been cleaning here for the last six months.”
My ex-wife, Janie, died. I was happy to see her go.
I regained custody of our beautiful son, Barry. He’s four years old. For the last two years, I’d been out of his life. Janie kept him away from me. God only knows what poison she filled his head with; all her hatred of me spilling out of her lying mouth to make Barry despise his old man. But all that’s over now. He’s mine again. And he’ll love me soon enough.
It was clear she’d said some terrible things to influence his perception of me. “Daddy’s bad,” Barry informed me one night. Tears filled my eyes and I clutched my son to my chest and whispered, “your Daddy is a good man, Barry. Your Daddy will take care of you.”
I meant it, although I hated him when he squirmed to get away. He was afraid of me. His mother’s poison still coursed through his veins.
In early April, Barry seemed under the weather. I checked him out. He’d developed hives. I was overjoyed. This would be my opportunity to redeem myself with him. Once he saw how well I could take care of him, he’d love me again. I thought back to his tiny hand clutching my finger moments after he was born. He’d loved me from the start. Then Janie ripped it out of him. I seethed.
I was lucky enough to be the next-door neighbor of a world-class chef. Like, legit world class. Like, Michelin star class. Yeah. The real deal. Stewart Therriault. Maybe you’ve heard of him.
One of the benefits of living near Stewart was getting to try all the sumptuous, creative dishes he’d make whenever he was home. Seriously, the guy cooked all the time. As soon as I’d see the lights go on in his house, it was only a matter of time before thick, luscious aromas wafted into my home. And, because he was a great guy, he’d often bring over a plate or two for me to try. “It’s all practice for the restaurant,” he told me. Continue reading “A Gifted Chef”
“No mushy stuff!,” my parents would insist whenever I told them I was going on a date. I figured it was what parents had to say. No one wants to think about their kids having a sex life. Just like how kids don’t like to think of their parents having one.
So I went on my dates. And they were great. Lots of fun, countless good times, and yes, plenty of sex. Plenty of “mushy stuff,” as my parents were wont to say as I rolled my eyes to the ceiling.
Like any kid, I did my best to hide it from them. I was always careful. Protection was always involved – although with my most recent girlfriend, we sometimes took risks. Passion is a hell of a thing. Continue reading “Mushy Stuff”