So many times I have come to that
place in my life where I question all that is and all that
will be. So many times I have looked into the mirror and asked
the age old question, Who am I? What am I? I stare
and stare until the moment arrives that I am no longer familiar
to myself, as if I have stepped out of my own body and see
a stranger, then I go downstairs and turn on the television.
Today, as I wandered down the stairway, I found myself, as
I do so often, enchanted by the pictures of my daughter that
adorn the wall. One of them is from when she was five years
old. It was Halloween. She had dressed like a little spit
of a witch. "Spit Witch" I called her. Black stockings
with little orange bats, velvet granny boots with satin black
laces, and a hat with a brim as wide as her smile were donned,
special for the occasion.
My eyes naturally progressed to the next picture on the wall,
like elements of a fluid piece of art. Second grade, when
she begged so very much to be a ballerina. She smiled for
the picture with her little black leotard and white stockings
and cute little soft dance shoes. She would smile for anyone
who was willing to snap her picture, and then some. She never
became a ballerina.
The next place my eyes rested was a picture so calm and serene
that I always seem to measure my mood by the way it creeps
into my psyche. A beautiful rocky beach on the coast of Ireland
where we took a trip once. She was twelve. She had bent down
to pick up a shell as I snapped the photo when a swift breeze
caught her hair and the strands swam past her lips as she
smiled. It was a moment that I often return to. It was one
of those moments that a person could actually smell.
Such a moment as that was approaching.
Three more steps and I was at the bottom of the staircase.
The sounds of pleading were faint and muffled, but it was
enough to bring a wide smile to my face. I turned the corner
at the bottom of the stairs and opened the door to the cellar.
A faint stench of fear was hanging in the air. It was like
cotton candy at the carnival. I could almost taste it as my
glands sprayed onto my tongue, watering with anticipation.
It took me a while to really get to him. Hes a
stubborn ass, but he's good and afraid now. Ashley was
wiping the sweat from her brow. Its your turn
now. Ive gotten him to plead with me, finally.
I walked around behind Teddy Ruxpin. Thats what we called
him, Teddy Ruxpin, like a big fat hairy bear that plays with
little children. He was a bastard, and a molester, and he
liked to make small children scream in terror.
Teddy, you dont look so good. I had to cover
my face; the stench was so ripe. You need a bath.
Do you think its time? Can I bring out Mr. Toes?
Ashley was beaming from ear to ear. What an incredible little
girl I had.
I dont know. Mr. Toes likes them fat and juicy.
Have you used the new set of knives I bought you for Christmas?
Ashley walked over to Teddy and lifted the hair that was hanging
in front of his eyes.
Wow, you did such a good job I could hardly notice.
It wasnt easy. He wouldnt sit still. He
passed out as soon as I started cutting just above his ear.
Ashley lifted the hairs from the front of Teddys scalp
until the entire hairline was three inches above his skull.
A few lines of blood began to trickle down and over his eyes.
Teddy whimpered pathetically.
Think hes juicy enough?
I walked over to the light switch panel on the wall behind
me and flicked on one of the switches. The sounds of gears
and pulleys began to bellow through the wall behind Teddy.
His eyes widened in spite of the blood that was trickling
Thats better, I said. Get that blood
pumping. It makes the meat so much more delicious." I
leaned in to Teddy and quietly spoke, "Mr. Toes loves
to chew the fat. It's his favorite part."
Teddy screamed through his gag.
The gears had halted and a breeze swept through the cellar
from the opening that was now breathing into the dankness.
A hissing could be heard, followed by the scraping of claws,
or talons. Teddy could feel something coming. Terror coursed
through his veins.
Oh darling, dont forget the salt.
How silly of me, Mother. Mr. Toes does have a palate
for salt, doesnt he?
Ashley walked over to a small marble table and picked up a
can of sea salt and generously sprinkled it all over Teddy.
This will do just fine. She sprinkled a bit on
her palm and licked it in front of him.
Okay, time to let Mr. Toes have at it. Dinner is at
six. Think you can be ready?
I think so, Mother. Will Father be joining us?
Absolutely. I told him I was preparing his favorite
Oh yeah, roasted pig with a light red wine sauce.
We laughed and laughed all the way up the staircase.
I stopped and looked at my beautiful daughter. You really
have come a long way, darling.
I know, Mom. Now you dont have to deal with all
of those nasty little stragglers when you remove the scalp.
Arent you proud of me?
* * *
Sweetheart, what smells so delightful?
Bob had just come home from work and was walking toward his
wife in the kitchen preparing dinner.
Its your favorite, honey.
Roast pork? With red wine sauce?
Yup. Ashley helped me with it this time. Shes
learning some terrific tricks with meat, sweetheart. You will
be so impressed.
Ashley came into the kitchen and gave her father a hug and
kissed him on the cheek. Im starving. Is it almost
Just a minute and Ill have it on the table.
I was a bit starved myself. All that time in preparation really
makes for a ferocious appetite.
So, your mother tells me you
helped with dinner.
I did, Dad. You are going to love it!
Here you go, sweetie. I put a special helping of sauce
in a separate bowl for you, but you shouldnt need it.
Bob cut through his meat with great anticipation, almost as
much as I had just watching his mouth water at the thought
of that nice juicy pig going into his mouth.
Bob cut the first piece and reached for the salt.
Honey, I dont think youre going to need
Try it first, then see if it still needs salt.
Bob placed the first piece of moist dripping meat into his
mouth. It was fantastic. He rolled it around his tongue over
and over and made the most enticing sounds. His eyes even
closed for a moment.
Oh my god. This is the best you have ever made.
He kept shoveling the meat into his mouth with reckless abandonment.
This is so good. Did you tenderize this?
Sure did, Dad. I discovered a new tenderizer.
Really? Whats it called?
Oh, is that like Mrs. Dash?
Not even on the same planet, Dad.