Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Countess Arugula and the Case of the Blood Oranges

Some horror-satire to get you through the living season.

Dusk had arrived at long last. The waning Hunter Moon had yet to rise leaving the overcast sky uniformly bleak. The evening's trick-or-treaters had already disappeared into their houses, barred their doors and doused their porch lights. Throughout downtown Shadowville the neighborhood is draped in anticipatory silence.

Countess Arugula emerges from her house and reaches up to unlatch her gate. It opens with an extended creak as she steps beyond the white picket fence of her yard. Closing the gate behind her, thrilling at the rending sound, she stumbles. An unexpected object lies before her. In the dim light she can just discern World's Best Blood Oranges spelled out on a crate with the Euphrates Organics trademark underscored.

"Oh my," Countess Arugula exhales, "who would leave fruit at my doorstep. Surely everyone knows by now I'm a carnivore of the night. Why do they spite me so."

What's On, Countess Arugula's pet bat, deftly flutter loops to a landing on her shoulder and mutters his singular taunt, "What's on?"

"Good question, What's on, let's investigate to discover who it is that dares ridicule me."

With lightning swiftness, Countess Arugula kicks the crate shattering the wood utterly and scattering hefty oranges across Main Street like frightened rodents. With a determined gait she crosses the street, pausing to enjoy the sweet scent of offal and manure that drifts over town from the slaughterhouse district.

With childlike aplomb Count Arugula struts up the stairs of her neighbor's house and rings the bell. The door cracks open and the double-barrel of a shotgun eases into view. Then the door flips opens fully and a tall, bearded man dressed in a camouflage pajama onesie pounces into the open threshold.

"Oh it's only you Countess. I thought it might be more of those damn kids. You'd think they'd heed the No Trespassing sign after last year's incident."

"What's on." squawks What's On.

"Oh, Hunter Jackfruit, do come out and see. Someone left a crate of oranges at my house as some sort of sick joke."

Shotgun angled down but still at the ready, Hunter Jackfruit closes the door and sits on his porch bench happy to talk eye-to-eye with his diminutive neighbor.

"Countess Arugula, dear, do share with me your concern?"

Then in a blur, Hunter Jackfruit swings his shotgun up and pulls the trigger with a deafening blam, obliterating a mourning dove that had perched in the porch rafters. Avian carnage rains down on the Countess, splatter on her face which she licks away in long circles that would make Gene Simmons blush.

"I mean how many times must I clarify that I am a carnivore. Why must people be so judgy and poke fun at me for possessing a last name I have no control over."

Abrubtly Hunter Jackfruit pivots, flicks on a laser sight, adjusts his aim and blam, decapitates a gray squirrel that had been bounding between the shadows of trees on his lawn.

"I hear you, Countess. I mean, I run into that very issue myself all the time. People judge us so because our ideas embody who we are. They forget that killing is part of our evolutionary nature."

Hunter Jackfruit shifts his body left and drills a garden toad into non-existence that had peeped three feet away.

"What's on?" chirps What's On.

With trained precision Hunter Jackfruit centers the red bead of the laser on the little brown bat's belly, his finger jittery at the trigger. Only after the Countess tilts her head and gives him an ominous stare above a yeah-really smirk, does he relent and lower the firearm.

Countess Arugula continues, "Maybe we should compromise like Cowboy Holocaust. I mean he was ridiculed for years for having the last name Asparagus. Once he changed his name to reflect the true nature of his dairy farmer ethics, people seem to leave him alone."

Hunter Jackfruit rolls to the corner of the porch, double pumps his shotgun and nails an old groundhog that had been nosing at the lamb-kabob smoker on his patio. He fires a second time into the lifeless flesh just for effect.

"Now don't you let others sway your true self, sweet Countess. Cowboy H may have rebranded himself.  But just because his milk jugs now picture cow's being force impregnated, their calves being locked in veal crates, and useless cows being lowered into the sausage grinder doesn't make it right. He lost a lot of respect by changing his name. Tradition is sacred, and don't you forget it! To be honest, if I were you I wouldn't trouble yourself investigating who left you the crate of oranges. The world is yours to own and you need not answer to the haters out there."

Hunter Jackfruit stands, swings the shotgun around, sights it carefully and fires. He successfully maims a street cat that had been noshing on the entrails of the headless squirrel. The high pitch screech of dying reaches high into the night.

"Maybe you're right," Countess Arugula announces, lifting her chin high. "I am Countess Arugula through and through. I choose to live how I want to and if a case of blood oranges showing up at my doorstep once a year is the price I have to pay, then so be it.  Thank you, Hunter Jackfruit."

"You're welcome. And help yourself to what's left of the kitty there while it's still fresh. The groundhog though, is all mine!"

Countess Arugula smiles, gives a nod and turns to collect her prize. What's On hops from one shoulder of the Countess to the other never losing eye contact with Hunter Jackfruit. As they disappear into the shadows of the front yard What's On squawks above the shriek of the unfortunate feline.

"What's on!"

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