We’ve been saving this one for a while. Mostly because we couldn’t help but wonder if it was a sequel to this – the perils of modern dating, eh?
Anyway, we knew you guys would come up with the goods. Murder and mischief abounded. It was great.
And because I’m alone in the office, with nobody around to stop me, this week we’re having three winners again.
RUNNER-UP: Lynda Clark
Like No Chickens I’ve Ever Seen
“That can’t be right,” she said. “Weigh them again.”
“I weighed ‘em four times! They don’t weigh nothing!”
“There must be some fault with the machine.”
“Ain’t no fault!” he said, taking the plucked bodies and laying them on the counter. “See?” He took one of his own capons from the refrigerated display case and dropped it onto the scales. The needle moved to register the weight. Eight pounds of plump bird. Maude’s ‘birds’ were scrawnier, but they weren’t that scrawny. Surely they should float off if they weighed nothing? How was it possible?
“Where did you get these anyway?” asked the butcher, eyes narrowing. “And why dint you weigh them where you bought them?”
Maude thought of the pentagram chalked on the floorboards of her flat, of the black candles guttering out, and the birds popping into the star’s centre like they’d been there all along, limp and lifeless. Sacrificial roosters in reverse, the end rather than the means. They looked almost like roosters, except for the albino-whiteness of their skin and the four legs rather than the customary two. She’d thought of them as plucked before, but there was no sign of them ever having feathers or fur, like they were born smooth and flawless. She wondered what heads had topped those severed necks in life. Best not to dwell on any of it, really.
“Never you mind,” she told him, stuffing them back into her bag.
There was good eating on those.
RUNNER-UP: Francesca Walsh
“That’s 18 cent a pound, Maud. It’ll come in under the half dollar. Will I wrap her up for you?”
“No, just wait a minute. You say its two pounds, right?”
“Two and a half pounds at 18 cent, that’s 45 cent. Entertaining tonight, Maud?”
“Mind your business, Joe Harris. Let me look at them scales again and don’t put the whole bird on, leave off the head and feet. I’m not payin’ for what I can’t use.”
“Have I ever duped you, Maud? Charged you for dog bones when I know darn well you don’t own a dog?”
“Have you something to hide, Joe Harris? Worried I’ll catch onto you? I’m no fool.”
“Yeah and you’re no spring chicken either so make up your mind. Do you want this bird or not?”
“Tough times Joe, I have to be sure I’m getting my due.”
“You’re married to the best provider in town but you’ll never get your due.”
“What’s that suppose’ to mean?”
“You’ve been actin’ strange a lot recently, Joe, I’m thinking of taking my business elsewhere. Somewhere they ain’t afraid to let you see the merchandise.”
“Where? Macy’s? Bloomingdales? This is Little Rock, Maud, there ain’t no Big Rock round here but take yer custom away. Suits me.”
“Show me that fowl again, I wanna make sure you ain’t crookin’ me.”
“My mother was right, I never should’ve married you, Joe Harris. What time you home? We’re havin’ chicken.”
WINNER: Carol Smart
Coq Au Vin
My heart sinks when I look up, it’s Mrs Belushi again – the third time this week. Surely she can’t need more meat? Her sons all left home – no surprise there, given the woman’s maddening ways, incessant talking, gesticulating, those hats she wears.
Mornings I get up early, look forward to my day. I shower, dress, give my bow tie one last tweak as I check my appearance in the mirror. Off to start a new day in the shop.
It’s a neighbourhood shop. Customers have been coming in regularly from the day my parents first opened up. Always prided ourselves on cleanliness, good quality food, smart appearance, polite customer service.
Mrs Belushi upturns all that. She fingers displays, she rustles packets, she speaks over other customers, vying for my attention. She sullies my counters. The woman invades my space! The woman is a nuisance!
“Good morning ma’am, lovely day – what I can get you?” I’m already gritting my teeth.
“Gee I’m thinking of chicken, special occasion chicken,” she squeaks.
I choose a good-looking bird, place it on the scales. The woman is now leaning on my chopping board, peering over at the scales. Is she without manners? Is she so blind to my discomfort?
“Will that do for two?”
“Certainly ma’am.” My spirits rising; I’m already anticipating her departure.
“Well then,” she says coyly, “I’ll expect you at seven!”
Congratulations Lynda, Francesca and Carol! And thank you all for a most entertaining day.
Happy writing, happy weekends. Who’s having chicken for dinner?