By Sheila Shedd
We’d met three months before, an all night thing at a club called Sprechen. Purple strobes and long-winded jams featuring a French horn backed by a Theremin had me tired of the scene. I took a comfortable, isolated seat upstairs overlooking the rave, and Keven sat beside me. With the nighttime attractiveness of longish hair and an open wallet, I allowed him my company.
We chatted amiably for three hours; I was forward and charming at first, but as the mesmerizing effects of four Zombies wore thin, I found him self-obsessed and maudlin, talking at length about tactics of survival, or perhaps an escape…a contingency for some worst case scenario he had no reason to believe would ever materialize. When he finally drew breath, I made my exit, giving him a standard-issue cheek kissing. Some time during the evening I must have also given over my number, and with that, some shred of hope for a future engagement.
I received his fifth invitation in October, a text asking me to dinner. Would I please join him in the city this Halloween night? He was having friends, he said, for pasta and, to my delight, his special Tiramisu, made the traditional way, lady finger cookies layered in cream and soaked in Borghetti liqueur. This, he somehow knew or perhaps just guessed, was my favorite dessert—a true weakness of mine.
I didn’t think his persistence strange; I gathered from our single evening that he was obsessed and juvenile. That he was a paranoid lunatic wasn’t out of the question. But, alone on the nightshift, I had very few friends, and I would be alone, again, on All Hallows Eve.
I arrived a bit late; fashionably, I suppose. Dinner had been served to three quiet guests who appeared more interested in their wine than the barely-sauced angel hair. They turned as I entered and I detected a blush of guilt, as though I’d walked in on children doing something they knew they oughtn’t. Keven rounded the table and brought me into the fold; his hand was warm and it gripped more intimately than I was comfortable with. Still, I walked gracefully forward and took the seat that had been reserved for me.
More wine was poured, and, after two glasses, the company relaxed. Keven was polite and attentive, but the real conversation and laughter always circled back to memories and anecdotes between old friends, the type that serve to make one feel forever an outsider.
Not a moment too soon, our host went into the kitchen and returned with the famous dessert; my mouth watered in anticipation as the dish was set upon the table.
“Oh God!” I screamed when the cake was revealed. “What…what is this?!”
“Your favorite, my dear,” Keven whispered.
“But…oh, God…the blood…”
“From the lady fingers, sweetheart. Happy Halloween.”
“It’s…so much blood,” I cried, looking at the dismembered digits. “It’ll spoil the cream!”
We were married that winter.
Diction Mistress Sheila Shedd is the owner of Swift Creative and Primary Editor Extraordinaire at Devil Dog Press. She has the lyrics to over five-hundred songs at the tip of her tongue and is often asked to perform minor feats of daring which she does with finesse and good humor for practically free. A Disneyland native, Sheila now lives in Virginia where her life is full and reasonably worth living. For more insight into this enigmatic human, read her quirky Mock-Gothic, Heart of Jet.