Editor’s note: This story is the haunting sequel to “Sweet Revenge.” Watch your cholesterol, people. That’s all we’re saying.
Death Dealer (Or Bob Strikes Back)
by Margaret Finnegan
“Murderer.” The word stole into Heidi’s head on summer nights when she lay down to sleep. It was annoying, but Heidi didn’t dwell. She had no regrets.
Over time, the word managed to get out of her head and into the copper pipes, which hissed it—murrderrerr—in a ghostly tune when she laundered her whites.
Then, on Halloween, the word burst into her hearing-aid static. That was when Heidi got mad. She shouted to her empty kitchen, “That’s enough, Bob; there’s no need to get melodramatic,” whereupon, Bob materialized before her.
He did not look good. He had lost a lot of weight in the afterworld, and he had the gloomy, pissed-off face to show for it. Plus, he had no eyeballs and his tongue was black. “You were my wife. You were supposed to love me, but you killed me,” he moaned, pointing a long gray finger at her heart.
“You killed yourself. No one made you eat all that saturated fat, all that beef, all that sugar and butter, all those empty carbs. You did that all on your own.”
“Nooooo, you gave me those things on purpose.”
“Ha! Tell it to Oprah. ‘My wife stuffed me with desserts.’ ‘Violet’s made me eat their cupcakes.’ ‘Congress won’t pay for my lap-band.’ How about some personal responsibility, mister?”
This seemed to stump Bob. He had to massage a big chunk of revealed brain with his fingers. “I hate you,” he said at last.
“Fine. Spend eternity hating me, but stop messing with my hearing aid.”
“Murderer!” he shouted. The kitchen lights flashed as Bob, his skin an angry, iridescent purple, stretched out—nine feet, ten feet. Red light shone from his empty eye sockets. Worms and maggots slithered from his ears and nose. Raising his fists to the sky, he thundered, “Yooooouuuuu killed me.”
Then his jawbone tumbled to the floor. He tried to speak, but his black tongue just flopped around like a sea cucumber.
“Well, thank heavens for that,” said Heidi.
Without even a soda pop fizzle, down went Bob—eight feet, six feet, five-foot nine and a half. With as much dignity as he could muster, he bent down and retrieved his jaw. Cradling it gently and shuffling backwards, bathed in the yellow light of shame, he began to fade away until there was nothing left, not even a maggot on the ground, not even a hum in the pipes.
Heidi stared at the spot Bob had stood. She blinked. She sighed. Then, when it was time, she got out her good ceramic bowl and her eight super-sized bags of candy, and waited for trick-or-treaters.
© Copyright 2009 Margaret Finnegan. All rights reserved.
Margaret Finnegan is a frequent contributor to Rose City Sisters. Her work has appeared in Salon, the LA Times, FamilyFun and other publications. She blogs about wise women and even wiser goddesses at Finnegan Begin Again. She reminds you that excessive Halloween candy can lead to an early death but giving individual-sized snack bags of carrots to trick-or-treaters can lead to an even earlier one. Remember: to be forewarned to be forearmed.