#43 Cherry My wife slept and wouldn’t wake up for a long time because of the drug I put into her drink. It was that time of the year and I needed her to I should have run and hid when I heard, “Hey kid come here.” I didn’t and sometimes my fears subside when I see friendly faces gathered around. Not for long though as memories of a big old tree with people grouped around it fills my head with visions of what they did. My friend, Tommy, and I were on our way to Sewer Beach. A fitting name because the slaughter house disposed of animal blood and guts through a pipe that emptied into the Charles River just upstream of the beach. While swimming, we’d once in a while even see a skeletal head. Being all of five years old, we thought it exciting and would drag it on home to show what we had found. The river was full of used condoms and turds, so we always swam with our mouths closed. Snapping turtles that may have weighed fifty pounds or more were plentiful, and if one grabbed you by the toe, it’d pull you under water and keep you there until you drown. Fearless is what we were as we’d dare cars to hit us as we ran across the highway separating Hano from the river. When the cars came close to hitting us, we’d gather up some rotten fruit that had fallen from one of the many trees along the way, and we’d throw it at the passing cars. Revenge was sweet, even then. “Hey kid, come here,” repeated in my head and I saw it all again. Tommy and I were walking by the haunted house on Everett Street, the one with the big old cherry tree in the front yard. That’s where thirteen men and women wearing white robes stood. All looked at me, and I wanted to flee. Some of the group held their hands out to me filled with fruit off that tree. I headed for the gate because I hadn’t eaten all day. “Joe, don’t go. Can’t you see what they are?” I looked closely and saw that all their eyes glowed, “Let’s grab a handful of cherries and run,” I told Tommy, When I spoke, I felt the heat from a fire pit they had dug beside the tree. “Come on hungry boy, bring your friend and we’ll feast today,” one of them said. My stomach made me obey, and I dragged Tommy kicking and screaming into the yard. I never expected what happened to happen. Three of them bound Tommy, wrapped him in bannana leaves, and then put him in the fire. When he screamed, all thirteen floated off the ground with smiles on their faces and with saliva dripping from their mouths. Their eyes glowed so bright; I knew their glow added to the heat as Tommy’s scream died out, and the smell of roasting meat filled the air. “Cherry sauce,” one of them said and handed me a bowl. Too scared to refuse, I took it in my hand. “What’s this for?” “Put it on the tender meat for an out of this world flavor,” the thirteenth person said. Tommy cooked for an hour or more, and I was too scared to move. I stood there with the bowl in my hand, and after a while he stopped screaming. The leaves covering his body burned away, and his skin roasted to a golden brown. The cooked Tommy smelled good enough to eat. “He’s cooked long enough, don’t want to burn the virginal meat,” a coven member said. He put on a pair of asbestos oven mitts and pulled the golden brown body from the fire. Then he placed it on a wooden picnic table behind the tree. I watched as Tommy got carved into serving sized meat. Number thirteen dropped a piece into my bowl of cherry sauce. “Eat up.” I wanted to scream, to run, to get the heck out of there, but they all watched me. I didn’t dare move. “Eat up!” one shouted. I put my face close to the bowl because I feared they’d be eating me if I didn’t pretend to be like them. When my nose got close to the cooked Tommy meat, the enticing aroma filled my nostrils. My stomach insisted I take a bite of the soft and tender flesh of the boy who not long ago was my friend, but now was just a chunk of meat I could eat. “Didn’t it bother you to eat your friend?” my wife asked. “Once he was dead, he was only food.” “That’s horrible Joe. I hope you have eaten no one since then.” “Only once a year, on this the 13th day of October, to remind me what I had to do to survive.” I saw her look at the calendar and confirm that today was indeed the 13th. “Okay, you scared me with your macabre story, so now please untie me?” I didn’t answer with words, but I threw a lit match into the fire pit. The gasoline soaked coals burst into bright orange and blue flames. Her eyes got big. Mine began to glow. When I started to wrap her in banana leaves, she screamed. I smiled, because the more she screamed, the tenderer her meat would be. So you see, I’ll never forget that old cherry tree. The end For more stories, poems, & other stuff. http://joedibuduo.com/ http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=joe+DiBuduo