It was a strange day for Bran and I; I kept finding dead
bodies. I suppose the fact that they were dead wasnít very strange.
It was the fact that I kept finding them that was so bizarre. I recall
noticing the first body. Itís pale, emaciated remains were haphazardly
stuffed into the freezer in the back room of Branís uncleís house.
I donít know what it was, exactly, that possessed me to open it.
Curiosity? Bad luck, perhaps? I still have nightmares about itís
sunken eyes rolled back in itís head, and that open mouth full of icicles
like fangs. I remember calling for Bran and slamming the freezer
shut, my continuing shrieks leading him to me. He seemed concerned
so I obliged him by showing him (with shaking arms) the dead man.
He said, ďMy God,Ē and then, ďHow did that get there?Ē I told him that we shouldnít do anything. (Branís uncle starting yelling from the other room, asking what was taking so long with the scissors.) I told him that we should get what we were looking for and think no more about it, and that his uncle seemed to be getting irate. I believe that was when Bran placed the scissors in my hand and said, ďYou first.Ē
It was puzzling at first; his reaction to the situation was hardly what I had grown accustom to. Even with the knowledge of the corpse in the freezer and the general queerness of our current situation, there was no element of surprise on his face, as though you had just told him the color of his hair or that his mail had arrived on time. There was almost an air of amusement about him that chilled me. The gravity in his voice was stunning when he again said, ďYou first,Ē and motioned for me to hurry out of the room. Not wanting to anger him, of course, I nodded dumbly and staggered out into the hall, unsure.
Again, his uncle screamed, asking about the scissors. I answered, saying that I was bringing them to him and then almost let slip what I had found in the freezer, thinking at the last minute that telling him would surely not bring about anything remotely good. Instead, I feigned a cough and began walking toward the sewing room, where Branís uncle was waiting. I began telling myself to calm down and to not let anything out of the ordinary show, until I heard from Bran, that is. At that instant, a small electric whine began to emanate from the back room followed by a sickening crack, reminiscent of the sound of a tree branch yielding to the wind or the sound my brotherís arm made the year before when it twisted and snapped under Branís weight.
I remember being suddenly frightened and for a moment could think only of the acts that Bran might be performing in that back room. I stilled and called back to Bran, asking if he was all right. He replied from the back room, ďDonít come in,Ē and then quickly, ďIím fine.Ē I was startled by hands on the back of my neck and yelped like a whipped puppy, turning to stab with the scissors.
Branís uncle laughed and took the scissors from my hand, saying that if I had stabbed him I would have been very sorry later. I laughed, too, and told him that I had not meant it. At this point, Branís uncle led me away, into the kitchen where he began pouring me a glass of wine. He began telling me old tales of Bran in his younger years, about how he used to kill cats and try to feed them to the stray dogs that would wander the neighborhood way back then. We laughed at how he used to stab himself.
After a time, we had finished the entire bottle of wine and were giggling like mad at each otherís drunkenness, howling about who was more intoxicated. We had just broken into another bottle when Bran came into the room and insisted that his uncle help him finish what he had started.
I paid no mind and continued pouring my drink, waving as Bran and his uncle left the kitchen. I am not sure if it was due to my drunken stupor, or if it was ill fate (or just old fashioned hunger), but something urged me to search through the pantry for something to snack on. Thatís where I found another one. You can understand my surprise at stumbling across two dead bodies in the same house (and within twenty minutes of each other). This one, however, was not as well preserved as the last, withered down so that identifying whether it was male or female was a considerable chore at first glance. It was strung up by itís neck, dangling from what I perceived as an extension cord that ran up and around a sturdy hook fastened to the ceiling of the pantry. (How long it may have been there, quietly swaying, while I carried about my daily activities, gives me a sense of smallness I would rather not try to describe.) For reasons still unclear to me, someone had placed a red bow (at this point faded to a dull pink) square on itís forehead, as if it were a party favor or a gift.
With a muffled shriek, I slammed the pantry door and spilled what appetite I had on the floor of the kitchen. I staggered and realized that I had forced my eyes closed, only to witness sudden drunken flashes of what I had just seen. The noise from the back room started again. You may be wondering why I had not chosen to leave the house right then and there, taking my grim findings to the authorities and exposing the rather macabre living conditions of my best friendís uncle. This is a point I, too, often look back on and question, for as I stood there, intoxicated and frightened, I still felt a sense of close friendship to Bran (though only God may know what he and his uncle were doing in the back room). Besides, I came to visit and it would have been very poor manners to leave without saying anything.
Thinking back, I believe that this was the exact moment that I made the connection between the body in the freezer and the body in the pantry. I would rather not say it out in the open, but you may very well know by thinking a bit.
Horror flooded me when I remembered all of the times I had previously had dinner with these people, happily and hungrily eating every morsel. Iím still shaken to this day to think about how good it was.