Monday, May 18, 2009

Strawberry Patch

"What did she do when you showed it to her?"

"She talked about the strawberry patch. How beautiful it was. She told me how she liked the smell of the Earth on her gloves digging in the spring."

"You're kidding me."

"Nope. I kid you not."

"Did she talk about the strawberries too? Did she say how delicious they were?"
"I think she mentioned that, yeah. In fact, I was treated to a recollection of a most 'glorious' May afternoon with a picnic blanket and a pitcher of lemonade on the lawn. The bowl of strawberries was freshly picked and perfectly warmed by the sun."

"Yum. Was this before or after her husband disappeared?"


"Christ. So she had no reaction whatsoever to the skull?"

"Now wait. I didn't say that. She had quite a memorable reaction. In fact, we got a positive ID."


"She held it in her hands very lovingly and smiled. Just like she was holding a person's face. For all I know, she was seeing him alive in her mind. Kind of creepy, actually. She whispered something. I was too busy picking my jaw off the ground to ask her to repeat it."

"What about the ID?"

"She commented on his teeth. They were still in pretty good condition when we dug him up out of the strawberries. She said, 'Lordy, Daniel, I'd recognize those crooked old teeth anywhere.' She even poked around at a silver crown on his molar."

"That's fucked up."

"Pretty much. Yep."

"Are we going to charge her?"

"Let's see what the medical examiner comes up with first. The way he was laid in that grave with his hands crossed and all makes me think that he just died."

"But she ate the strawberries."

"Yeah. Little bit of Daniel in each one...."

"I think she whacked him, buried him in the backyard, and planted the strawberries."

"Maybe she did. But seriously, who's going to indict a ninety-two year old woman for the death of her husband almost fifty years ago?"

"What the hell do you want me to do with that?"

"Strawberry? Go on. They're amazing."


Tongue-fu Lady said...

Simply brilliant! Was following your work from Aniket's blog and totally love it :)

SzélsőFa said...

Just great Jason :)
I like how the stroy unfolds and have a fine lady in my mind :)

Shadow said...

super cool! about that strawberry though... not for me...

Aniquez de los mil luces said...

Loved it so very much.

Death is such a fascinating subject to write on. So many variations and emotions are attached to it.

This was extremely well paced.

PS: When is the next contest going to be held? Eagerly waiting. :)

Catvibe said...

Cool! Love the ending line. I'd eat it! Good fertilizer!

Sarah Hina said...

Maybe I'm weird, but the idea of her cultivating that lush sweetness from his dry remains is quite touching to me. This is a complicated scene, but you handled it so well.

That bit of distance and uncertainty on their parts allowed us to form our own interpretations and reflect some of our innate sensibilities. Death can be as great of a mystery to outsiders as the life and love that preceded it.

She definitely didn't whack him. ;)

Anonymous said...

Macabre, but kinda sweet too! Who knows the motivations behind a little old ladies mind? Lol!

Woman in a Window said...

Ha! What're you gonna do? Fun. Somehow that she's 92 relieves her of guilt. Wondering what I can get away with in another 50-60 years?

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

A little Strawberries and Old Lace, perhaps? Very cleverly written, Jason, and highly entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Tongue-Fu Lady, thanks for hopping over! Glad you enjoyed it. :) I hope to see you around.

Szelsofa, I can't claim too much with this one. The scene came into my head and I recorded it as is. I leave the meanings to you. :)

Shadow, that's okay. There's a nice blueberry bush too. No one is under that (as far as we know). ;)

Aniket, thank you for the feedback on the pacing! This vignette just flowed out. It's such a pleasure when it works that way. (As for the next contest, I'm coordinating with a guest host. I'd say in the next month or so.)

Catvibe, yum yum! Strawberries do rock. :)

Sarah, your comment gave me a whole new perspective on this piece. Thank you! I think my mind poured that ambiguity into the scene without making a decision one way or the other. I like your take on it!

Aggie, she's kind of an enigma that serves cookies and milk.

Woman in the Window, let's get cracking! Just hide whatever naughty act you commit really well. We'll forgive you when the time comes.

Kaye, so glad you enjoyed it! I thought it was odd and entertaining. The inspiration popped into my head from nowhere Saturday night.

Karen said...

I really think detective fiction is your forte, Jason. I enjoyed everything about this, from the setting to the situation to the dialogue. A skull in a strawberry patch -- an unexpected, interesting yet not macabre find -- there's a feeling of normalcy for these two guys. Love the ending.

the walking man said...

"Yeah. Little bit of Daniel in each one...."

This is the singular line that drives the flash home for me. Reminds me of the Tomato Patch Murder only that body wasn't interred long enough to become fertilizer.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

We have a saying here regarding Timbits (those donut holes nobody wants). The commercials say "There's a little bit of Tim in every one we make."

I should hate to think there's a little bit of Tim Horton in each donut. Ew.

'Round here, the strawberries come up in June. They're little flowers right now.

Beautiful piece with just the right amount of cheek.

Anonymous said...

Karen, thank you! It's great to hear that I can deliver the right brush strokes to weave mystery. I do think that most novel ideas that I would delve into at this point would have elements of mystery and suspense. I don't know that I would ever write a pure genre mystery, however.

Walking Man, I think with a few of these recent pieces, I wanted to juxtapose something beautiful with something grotesque. This photo is one of my favorites of a blossom. The image of caressing a skull was a disturbing counterpose.

Chumplet, we need to get those strawberries growing! Here in Pennsylvania, we have green ones on the plants. A little bit of Tim Horten in the donuts...I agree. I'd prefer powdered sugar.

Dal Jeanis said...

Had to link to this one. Great stuff.

trinitybeacon said...

Good story, beautiful photograph