“Simple Deadly Cravings” by Kerime B. Toksu
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
Simple Deadly Cravings
by Kerime B. Toksu
Old North End, Burlington, Vermont
Tiny red potatoes sizzled on the stove as Mel rolled kale with one hand, slicing it into ribbons with the other.
“Root vegetable chowder,” she told me as I unwound my heavy wool scarf. I must have given her a look because she added, “with maple syrup,” as though this would make it better.
“Sounds good.” But what I was craving, had been craving for weeks, was a stew thick with animal fat, brown chewy beef—even stringy white chicken would have done me. Which wasn’t going to happen. I’d fallen for Mel at the Clover. Only one drink in and I’d lied and said I was vegan. Two drinks in, my finger twirling a strand of her fire-red hair, I said I’d never slept with a man. Three drinks in and she’d licked my neck.
I walked over to the window and stared out at the snow, light and swirling. It made my head feel itchy. I hated February in Vermont, when it was so cold your lungs seized and your nose ran snot down your chin.
“That thing is still in the driveway,” Mel said with another slice.
“He’s trying to sell it.” I looked down at the trailer below. Greg had tacked up a sign: “Mobile Slaughterhouse for Sale—CHEAP!”
“It’s disgusting.” The knife was pounding down now on a sickly white rutabaga. “We should move.” The rutabaga and kale tumbled into the pot. “It’s a crummy neighborhood.”
“He’ll sell it. He told me he’s had a few offers.” I looked at her across the tiny living room. Her hair was still that same fire-red, but lately it was starting to look ordinary. “He’s a localvore,” which is a word Greg had taught me. “You should respect that. He’s trying to help small Vermont farmers make a living, not get sucked up by the big factory farms.”
“Victoria,” she drew out my full name, which is when I knew she trying to make me mad.
I stuffed my arms back into my coat, laced up my boots.
“Vic,” I heard as I stomped down the stairs.
The air bit at me as I headed around the trailer. I shoved my fingers through the filthy snowpack over the back tire and pulled out a key.
Inside, the walls gleamed white, but everything else shone silver—corrugated floor, rails bolted to the ceiling, chains and hooks, acid tanks and trolleys. It was cold to look at and freezing to stand in, but it was colder outside.
I yanked open the drawer on the tool cabinet and pulled out my smokes. Another thing I’d lied about, except I had dropped the habit once Mel moved in, sort of. It was just so hard to drop bad habits. Forever.
I sucked in a lungful of smoke and the door creaked open beside me. I sucked in another drag. “Can’t,” I said.
Greg hopped into the trailer. Slowly, he pushed me against the inspection table.
I tipped my head away but he slipped his hand up the back of my neck, forking his fingers through my hair. I could feel his wedding ring cold against my scalp. Before I knew it, my tongue was in his mouth and his hand was down my pants.
“You’re so wet,” he whispered, and I pushed him away, ashamed.
“We’re moving.” I stubbed out the cigarette. “I’m an asshole.”
I ran down the street, eyes blurred by the flurrying snow, making it impossible to think straight. I needed to get my shit together, I told myself. I needed to be the girl Mel thought she knew. I could be that girl, I told myself as I trudged into the corner store and bought a pack of gum. Peppermint. Clean and fresh. That’s what I needed to be.
The trailer door was cracked open. Greg never left it open. It was a sign, I told myself. One last cig before I dropped the habit for good. I hurried through the door and found myself in a world of red. I could see now how the slaughterhouse was designed, for the blood to drain down the furrow on the right hand side. Greg’s left hand was reaching for something it would never catch, his wedding band just another glint of silver on the floor.
I ran up the stairs to the apartment and Mel was still at the kitchen counter, chopping.
“Sorry,” she said. “You’re right. It’s not a big deal about the trailer. I’m sure it’ll be gone soon.”
KERIME B. TOKSU is a writer living in Vermont. She has published one short story in the journal Malandragem and is currently writing a mystery novel while revising her first novel, Antigone Rising. When she’s not writing, Keri is working as a web developer and playing with e-wearables, 3D printing and big data. You can find out more about her at 2literal.com.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Oct 21, 2013
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