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News & Features » June 2017 » “Bake and Licks” by Lisa Allen-Agostini

“Bake and Licks” by Lisa Allen-Agostini

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.

This week, Lisa Allen-Agostini shares a brutal encounter that leads to fresh start.

Bake and Licks 
by Lisa Allen-Agostini
Sobo Village, La Brea, Trinidad & Tobago

He used to beat she like a snake.

When he done, she skin so black and blue and swell she look just like the Southern Main Road outside the La Brea Pitch Lake. To say it bumpy was a joke; it used to dip down and raise up like the waves in the Gulf of Paria.

One day he break she hand.

He ketch he ass but he figure out how to cut up the meat and knead the flour and roll it out too, and she do everything else with she one good hand. She never complain.

But somehow things change from that break-hand.

The first thing was the liver.

“Marie,” he say, the hot pot spoon in he hand still dripping the sour, bitter stew that shoulda be spicy and sweet.

Is hot-pot-spoon-to-face she take for that liver, oui. But is so it stay, day after day. She never make it right again.

The licks continue.

Even the time when Harry step out on the same Southern Main Road, which part he little green shop was, and nearly get lick down from one of them big truck passing on the way to the Pitch Lake, even that time when he watch death in he face and nearly piss heself he was so frighten, even then Harry wouldn’t have mercy on Marie. And with every licking he give she, she take away something else.

After the liver was the stew beef. It start to taste salty, salty, salty, as though every time Marie cry all the tears is what she used to cook with. And if again Marie cry?

Marie only friend was she macomere Tessa, a red-skin girl who she went Brighton EC school with. When Tessa come and visit—always when Harry wasn’t there, because Tessa couldna stand the best bone in he body—Marie used to throw sheself on the ground and bawl like a cow. Tessa alone know how Marie cry over the little baby what Harry beat out of she the time. Tessa alone know which part Marie bury the bloody clot that was all that remain of the son she always wanted.

Marie wasn’t trying to spoil the food. But she couldn’t help sheself. She tell Tessa even if Harry stop beating she, she still couldna cook for he nomore. Tessa keep encouraging she to leave the man. He is a good provider, Marie say. You doesn’t need no providing for when you dead, Tessa tell she, same speed.

What everybody know Harry parlour for—the specialty of the house, you could say—was the bake. The day reach when the fry bake itself come out like dumpling, fuss it thick; when you coulda buss a man head with the roast bake as though is a iron you throwing; when the golden, fluffy coconut bake was so tasteless that Harry rather spit it out than swallow.

After Harry went out drinking hard wine with some whores in Central a night, he stop by a lil parlour in Sobo six o’clock in the morning on he way home.

Before he take the first bite, he thought he smell it. The light and fluffy coconut bake. He swear that was Marie bake. Still, he swallow he doubts and prepare to taste the sandwich. Is choke he choke, yes. Marie stew beef? How?

Was a creole fella selling in the shop; he didn’t look familiar. The girl taking the money and wrapping the sandwich, she look lil more familiar. But Harry wasn’t sure sure sure.

Their eye make four.

She nearly smile.

He thought he pull she, and he smile back like a wet man.

He reach home, the sandwich still in he hand, and see the empty wardrobe. Is then that he place she: the red-skin girl Marie ask to stay for the child before she miscarry.

He peel out on the Southern Main Road like if is a little back road in the country, not a main road with big Mack truck, full of pitch from the lake, driving like they own the road. The big truck that mash up he car was swerving because the road to La Brea swell up and rough rough rough.

When they dig out he body from the wreck, he still had the bake and stew beef in he hand.

The widow paint the shop red and change the name. Marie’s: Best Bake in Sobo.


LISA ALLEN-AGOSTINI  is a writer and editor from Trinidad and Tobago. She is the co-editor of Trinidad Noir and author of the poetry collection Swallowing the Sky (Cane Arrow Press, 2015). Photo courtesy: Paula Obe Photography.


Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—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.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jun 12, 2017

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder | Tags: , , , , , , , ,