By Alexandra Tieng
I put a gloved hand on the doorknob, ready to turn it. I hesitated. The man I was to meet for dinner was in fact a man I had not seen in some time. I felt as though I was intruding, interfereing, even into things I felt I had no business in. But yet, he had insisted that they meet, and given his, what I could only imagine to be, lonely state, I clearly could not refuse. It would be rude. And so, practicing my greetings in her head, so that I might not sound too horribly akward, I turned the doorknob.
His home was as I remembered it. Large and spacy. So much space for what could be lavish furniture and grand decorations, beauitful paintings or glistening chandeliers. But instead the only thing that decoated the grand enterance, just like the rest of the house, was mounds and mounds of dust. The only things on display here was a poorly kept house that had such wonderful potential. Such a waste.
Continuing on further into the grand manor, I eventually found her way in the dining room. The minute I opened the door, I felt as though I may have been slapped in the face with a brightly glowing hand, but after a second to drink in the surrounding, I realized it was only the multiple candles around, in contrast to the dark rooms and hallways I had just traveled through. He had started ahead of I, he was already siiting at his seat, in his suit, with a plate of slabs of meat and what seemed like mashed potatoes and peas on the side. He looked up with me with sunken eyes, it took a while before he formed a wide grin.
"Found your way here alright, Helenza?", he said in his shaky old voice. I nodded quietly as I drank him in. He had aged drastically, and horribly. His wrinkles made him look like a pug dog. Not that he didn't try of course, no he was dressed as someone would for some sort of royal ball. His gray hair was slicked back, his suit clearly iorned with ruffles in tact. He sat straight up, posied and proper, and he looked very proffessional indeed.
I sat down on the at the cooper colored chair at the end of the table. The plate in front of me was dressed in mashed potatoes, peas, and a darker colored meat than what he had on his table. There was celery on the side.
"So," I began with a light tone, wondering if this was how I should begin the conversation, "What happened?"
Robert looked up at me with raised eyebrows, laid down his fork, seemed to drop his poise and sighed.
"It started around three months ago.", Robert began.
He told me of how it was barely beginning to be summer and he had just began his retirement, how he had been ready to settle down and looked forward to it. He had money for it, certainly. Yes, everything was set for him.
It was just on his first day of retirement, he was visiting his old friend Martin. Martin was very similar to him, a wealthy bank owner who was married to a wealthy plastic surgeon. They were having a scromptous feast of turkey and all sorts of things, pastas, bread, boiled potatoes, salad, soups; it was one of those feasts that you feel might have been more for good impression than actual feasting.
Martin's young daughter Carrie, was to join them in the middle of the feast, for she was so buried in paper work and assignments from her schooling, she could rarely ever spare a minutes time for anything at all. Robert had never met Carrie. Part of the reason he came supposedly, she was just turning ninteen in a week and, because Martin was so close to Robert, Robert had brought a crisp 100 dollar bill for her to enjoy as a birthday gift.
They were more than halfway done with their meal when Carrie walked in. In the beginning, Robert did not pay attention to her arrival, he had his head buried into his plate and was so consumed in his food that he did not hear the doors swing open or the footsteps of an oncoming person. But when it was when she spoke, that was when his head snapped up as though a great explosion might have gone off. Thats when his eyes first settled upon her. A familiar face, she was a replica of someone deceased who he had once loved, his ex wife in her younger years. So much, in fact, that for a moment he might have thought the dead had risen. Her hair, the same shade of red, her eyes, the same striking green, her lips, they contained that same thick fullness. Her complexion just as fair.
As Martin introduced her, she shot him a warm smile and took her seat on the opposite end of the table. It was only until Martin stopped speaking that Robert realized that he had been gawking akwardly. Feeling ashamed, Robert smiled at Carrie and said nothing but only went back to his dinner. Robert could see Martin and his wife exchanging concerned looks.
During the dinner, Carrie rambled about her homework and her distaste for her proffessers. Her voice reminded him of his lady love even more.
"I'm majoring in journalism," Carrie told Robert even though he hadn't asked.
"Really?," Robert snatched this opportunity at conversation happily, "You like writing and what not?" He asked her.
"Oh yes, she loves the stuff," Martin intervened, "Actually, Carrie, Robert here has written a book himself."
"Really?", At this point, Carrie's interest in Robert seemed to perk. "Whats it about?"
"Nothing I techinically wrote myself," Robert remembered his old novel; he had written it quite some time ago, "It is simply a book dissecting the depths of Greek mythology."
"Oh...," Carrie look back down at her plate, she seemed dissapointed.
"Well I think its fascinating," Martin's wife smiled reassuringly at Robert.
"Oh no," Carrie shook her head, "Don't get the wrong impression, I'm sure its interesting stuff, but I don't know much at all about it. I know a few things here and there, like about Philomela. She was a princess or something of the sort wasn't she? And if I remember she got turned into nightingale. Something like that."
"Ah yes, poor Philomela," Robert said.
"Why'd she get turned into a nightingale?" Martin said, seeming to want to carry on the conversation.
Robert hesitated for a moment, and then decided to answer the question truthfully.
"Well you see, the story goes that Philomela had a sister, named Pronce, who was a married to a king named Tereus. King Tereus was escorting Philomela back to Thrace, the place where he reigned. During the journey Tereus began lusting for Philomela and upon arriving at their destination, he forced Philomela into a cabin and raped her." Robert paused for a seconds time and looked around, the term rape seemed to have caught everyones attention as they were all staring at him, but no one protested his continuing of the story and thus, he went on. "She put up a bit of a struggle, and threatened him, and so, in annoyance, he cut out her tounge. This was also supposedly to stop her from telling anyone what he had done. However, Philomela manged to weave a tapestry, telling of what had been done to her and she sent this to Pronce. Pronce, who was enraged, then killed the son that she and Tereus had, Itys, chopped him up, and served him to Tereus, who ate him."
"He ate him?" Carrie said in a tone of disbelief.
"Yes, ate him."
Afterwards, no one said anything else, Robert continued on.
"Once Tereus realized that Pronce just made him eat his own son, he tried to kill both the sisters, but they fled and in the end, the Greek Gods simply turned them into birds to shut them all up. And thats the story."
"Thats horrible!" Carrie exclaimed.
"Yes dear, humans were savage back in those days." Martin nodded.
"Well rape isn't an exactly unheard of crime," Robert reminded him.
"Okay, yes, but cannibalism?"
"I would believe it. To say that there are no cannibalists out there is like saying there are no crazy people out there." Robert said. He saw Carrie give a slight shudder. There was a few moments of akward silence, and eventually Martin's wife brought up her day at work. And they were back to small talk and light conversation.
Soon, in about an hour, the supper was finished and Martin and his wife went outside for cigarettes while Robert helped Carrie clean up.
As he helped her put away the dishes, Robert smiled at Carrie and said, "You know its amazing, you look just like my ex wife did at your age."
"Really?." Carrie let out an akward laugh. A hungry sensation rushed through him just at the sound of her voice.
And in about two hours after that, Martin and his wife went back into their own home to find both Robert and Carrie missing. The home was searched, the police were called. Robert was the lead suspect when the police called it a sure fire kidnapping, but yet no one could find Robert, and they concluded that he was about as missing as she was. Despite any evidence Martin remained faithful to Robert, saying that there was "no way ol' Robbie did it, there must be some other explination."
"But its been three months and they never found nothing."
I stared at Robert. I drank down my mouthful of mashed potatoes and took a moment to take it all in.
"Interesting." I stated. I stared back at his plate, and realization crept up my spine.
"What are you eating, Robert? I've never seen meat in such a color."
He did not answer and only smiled and ate a forkful of the funny colored meat on his plate.
AN/ Just to verify... yes he did eat her.