Last winter I reread some Edgar Allen Poe short stories at the recommendation of my daughter. I was experiencing writer’s block at the time, so i thought I would try my hand at a parody, writing in the style of Poe. What emerged was the story I present below. It is whimsical as well as macabre, but consider the inspiration. I trust you will identify the various themes from Poe erupting in my story. I hope you enjoy this bit of lunacy.
One might think me mad to hear my tale, but that is only because you have not heard it rightly. Thus I have sat down this night to set things right. I am certain when you hear it from me you will not think me so. In fact, you should find me the sanest of all people. No doubt, when confronted with the surety of the facts you will deduce that you would have acted in self same manner.
I was nigh to my twentieth summer when I met my sweet Lulabelle Fee. I had long since turned to loving all living things and had denounced the way of the carnivore in deference to eating vegetable matter only. While I made great pretense of and show of letting people know that each person must make their own choice concerning the consumption of another living creature, in fact, as only make sense, I quietly enjoyed my superiority over those who imbibed upon flesh.
It was this passion which brought Lulabelle Fee and I together and, in time, grew to an ardent regard as any one, even I, have ever felt for such a handsome lady. Before the frost was on the pumpkin we were wed and began a blissful life of all sorts of sprouts and bean curd such as only those with a higher knowledge of morality can truly appreciate. Oh even now, I recall those beautiful days and nights with clean conscious and cleaner colon. It was as if we were living a faerie tale. But alas, as so many tales from the time of faerie, it was not to last.
As is want to happen, I fell into a pattern of abuses and usurpations such as I am now ashamed to retell. What began with a single Vienna wiener soon became orgiastic pleasures of roast mutton on the spit, broiled venison cooked in a thick broth of its own juice , and yes, even chopped steak made carefully into a patty and consumed on a bun. At first I would make pretense of adding a tomato or a leaf of lettuce, perhaps a sprig of parsley as a garnish. But soon I was consuming my iniquity with impunity to all things that once breathed.
Now you mustn’t think worse of my Lulabelle Fee. She did not follow me down the wide and primrose path which surely leads to intestinal destruction. She stayed ever true to our first love. Unfortunately, in time I found that which I first loved about her, now galled me to no end. In fact her steadfastness, which she meant as a constant beacon back to the true road, soon haunted me at every step.
At first, I hid my libations. I would invent excuses for staying late only to stop by The Ground Round on my way home and beg the server to allow me to glean off the dinner buffet. You see how brilliant I was, even in my sin, if I did not pay for my usurpation, was it really so bad? In time, Lullabelle Fee suspected my indiscretion and saw the grease stains on my breeches where I had wiped my hands, drunk with my lust for animal flesh.
As I sank deeper into my fallen ways, I began to think my Lullabelle Fee as complicit in my down fall. It was her constant nagging about celery and bok choy. Could a man not enjoy a beef wellington from time to time without experiencing the hen pecked house wife waiting at home? Was I not in my right to enjoy a rack or two after a long day of work? I became more careless and she began to find half masticated pieces of gristle in my pockets on wash day. She never said anything, but her silence was loud enough. Her smile and caring disposition mocking me at every turn.
One day, I decided I had quite enough and came home with a take home box. Up until this point I had always donated my left overs to the indigent and penurious, my own personal penance. But on this day I had gorged myself on a mammoth Italian meat pie, often referred to as a big pizza. It was my intention to consume every last bite, but finding myself stuffed to the point of near regurgitation, I looked down on the remaining slice and knew right then I would be taking this home. It was mine, and I would not surrender it, not at the threat of injurious action to my personhood.
Lest you think me without conscious or concern for my dear wife, I stood in a deluge for some time contemplating the decision before me, and nearly chose to bin the scrumptious remain of my edible affair before entering my domicile. But I suddenly brought to mind the sad smile on her face that would surely greet me as she tasted the smoked kippers and hard salami upon my lips as we kissed our eventide conjugal hello. If you would but humour me for a spell and imagine the visage, the countenance, that was about to meet my gaze, you would understand the sudden rage that fell upon me.
I burst in through the door, tired of hiding my true love any longer, and of this I am chagrinned, for I thrust my infidelity into the face of the love of my youth. I admit now, such an action was beneath me and likely precipitated the row which followed. The writer of the holy proverbs had penned that it is better to live on the corner of a roof than in the house with a woman scorned. He must have envisioned the scene the met me that day. With a nascent tear forming in the corner of her eye she looked at me, the love and concern that she made pretense to portray could not hide the utter disdain I knew she truly held for me. Oh demoness of demons how you have taunted my soul with your feigned forgiveness. I knew I was beyond recovery and no amount of being told you loved me still could silence the unspoken loathing that stood between us. I silently put the cornucopia of carnivorous calamity into the ice box and declared I was going to bed.
She made fabrication of allowing my charade to continue as she donned her night clothes and joined me. How quickly she fell into a restful sleep while I tossed and turned through the night. Oh how clever of her to devise my penalty so. Certainly she knew I would toss and turn in agony knowing a delightful, pleasant, and mouthwatering feast waited just below. In time, I resolved that I would do what once seemed inconceivable, I would enjoy my lust of the pallet under the same roof as my Lulabelle Fee. I stole away, oh how stealthily I moved. You would laugh in amazement if you could see me now, sneaking from my marital bed and creeping down the stairs. If you could see how I carefully missed every creaking board and squeaky nail you would certainly think me the cleverest of all sinners.
I was about to set down in the kitchen when something gave me pause. Could I be so bold? Had I fallen so far? Would I actually enjoy the sins of a season upon the same table where my wife would eat her organic granola and GMO free sun dried raisins lightly coated in almond milk in but a few scant hours? No, I would not be that man. Hence, I made the single mistake in my tale. I took my enchanting culinary delight into the cellar to eat in the dark, for dark deeds require darkness to be done darkly.
Unbeknowest to me, my Lulabelle Fee had arisen from her rest to find me missing from the place of my usual slumber. With nearly as much stealth as I displayed she came in search of me. Nearly I say, because as she stepped upon the final step to the cellar, the loose board gave out a long and loud creek. My back to the stair, I was enjoying the final bite of my tasty midnight ration when I heard the approaching sound of what anyone in my place would certainly assume to be a villain of untold dimensions. In utter fear I turned and pounced upon the unsuspecting assailant in a manner that would certainly prove my stability to any who still questions it. In forthwith haste I dispatched of the beating heart and laid low my foe. It was only as the blood lust, no doubt brought on by the consumption of such a large amount of red meat, ebbed from my body that I realized the horror of my error and espied by beloved Lulabelle Fee motionless upon the ground.
I am sure you will not fault me for panicking in such a case and I did what any other rational person would do placed in such an unlikely predicament. I ate her. It took some time, as not all aspects of a human body is readily edible. But I was persistent in my task and carried it out with such a cool headedness that me thinks you would be quite impressed. I will not belabor the point as I am certain you can imagine the processes necessary to carry out such a deed.
At about a quarter to six there was a rap upon my door. I wondered aloud who could it be at such an ill time. I peered through the leaded glass and saw two constables. Could it be that my wife let out a shriek of fear as she frightened herself upon stepping on the offending stair? In my own moment of horror I could not recall. Never-the-less, I was certain my tracks had been covered and there was nothing for them to discover.
I opened the door and greeted the gentleman asking what might be the matter. They informed me that the piercing scream of a woman had been heard in this vicinity late in the evening and they were calling to check on the house owners. I assured them I had been sound asleep at the time in question and had heard nothing. They asked if I lived alone. I confessed that my wife lived with me but acknowledged that we had had a spat and she had left to stay with her mother over on Haberstone Avenue. They inquired if they might look around. I was so certain of my subterfuge that I not only let them look around but I gave them a tour of the entire house. Safe in the knowledge that my crime would go unnoticed I invited them to join me for morning tea. If eating in the cellar was my first mistake, this display of hubris was my second.
As I came into the room with the tea, my stomach made a loud grumbling sound. The constables pretended not to hear it, but I was well aware of their skepticism of my innocence immediately. Still, I was confident in my ability to slip the noose having perfected my skullduggery over the years of concealing my carnivorous activities from my always faithful Lulabelle Fee. I smiled and sipped my tea, but my wife was not done reaping her vengeance upon me. My stomach convulsed slightly, groaning, as I let out a small burp. I put my hand to my mouth and excused myself politely. Oh the craftiness of these men of the law, they nodded their heads in deference and then sipped on their teas as they made small talk. My stomach convulsed a third time as the indigestion of my heinous act belied the steady visage upon my brow. I could sense the mocking silence as they pretended to not be aware of my vile actions. Oh when would they put an end to my misery and uncover that deed I had done?
Finally with a great deal of intestinal pain, which gave every appearance that my wife herself was trying to claw herself from my bowels to lay bare my deeds, my stomach let out a grumble of calamitous proportions. The officer nearest me turned in his chair and with a cunning smile commented, “Had a bit of a snack last night, did you?”
“Yes! Damn You!” I exclaimed in exasperation. “Torment me no longer, I killed my wife and ate her strait away. Even now she cries out for justice from within my in most being.”
I do not need to tell you that I was at once arrested and booked and due to my disdain for the utter nonsense of a lengthy trial where my lawyer would pretend to brook a ridiculous defense surrounding my sanity, found myself in prison forthwith. I do not write this today to prove my innocence, as is obvious I am quite guilty of retiring to the basement in an attempt to conceal my iniquity. If it was not for that final step, all would be well. But I hope, in hearing my tale straight from the boars mouth as it were, I have proven to you that I am not, as the papers have libeled me, insane. Oh, do not shed a tear for me. Things are not all bad. In fact, every Tuesday at the prison is meatloaf night.
~ J. W. McKay – 2015