A Short Horror Story
Pretty crowded in here tonight. Mind if I sit next to you? There aren’t any other open stools. Thank you kindly. What’s that you’re drinking? Black Russian? Sounds good, think I’ll get me one of those.
I see you’ve noticed my hand. – No, no apologies needed. I’m not self-conscious about it, not after all these years. You can look all you want. After all, it’s not every day you see a man missing two fingers. – Wood shop? No, not hardly. Much more interesting story than that.
It all started right here, in this very bar. I was in my early twenties, wearing my usual leather jacket and jeans. I took a seat at the table over there, in the corner, where the bartender couldn’t see me. I drank a little too much in those days, and when I drank, I liked to play a game with a knife…
You put your hand flat on a table, and stab the spaces between your fingers. You start slow at first, but then you see how fast you can hit each space. It gets more challenging the more you have to drink. A pointless and dangerous game, but it helped to relieve the boredom brought on by youth and too much free time.
I was sitting at my usual table, playing my game, when I saw her. Gorgeous woman, simply perfect. Dark hair, about the color of my drink here, and blue eyes that matched her dress. That dress! Lacy, low cut, looked like she could have been on her way to a wedding or a funeral or maybe a brothel. She saw me looking at her, and started walking my way. I was sure she was going to yell at me, or tell me to keep my eyes to myself, but she didn’t. She just smiled.
“I saw you over here, all alone,” she said, “and I thought you’d like some company. I’m Pamela Leto.”
“Jared Anderson,” I said, “and I would love some company. Why don’t we go sit at the bar, and you can drink until I’m handsome.”
I must have had one too many – alright, six or seven too many – because I can’t recall half the night. The next thing I remember is waking up in her car. I was in the back seat, and she was up front driving. I realized my hand hurt like hell. My hand was wrapped in an old towel, and the towel was soaked in blood. I unwrapped the towel and saw that two of my fingers were gone.
“Where the fuck are my fingers?”
“Oh, you’re awake,” she said, startled. “I have your fingers up here, in a plastic bag full of ice. We’ll be at the hospital in a couple minutes.”
“I went to the bathroom, and when I came back, you were on the floor, bleeding all over the tile. I asked someone how you got hurt, and they said you were playing a game with a hunting knife.”
As you can see, the doctors couldn’t reattach my fingers. Something to do with the nerves. The doctors stitched me up, and Pamela paid my bills. She gave me her phone number and dropped me off at my apartment.
The next day, my hand was still hurting. The doctors gave me some pills to kill the pain, but they weren’t working. I called the factory where I worked and asked for a few days off. I actually had to get them a doctor’s note. Can you believe that? As if I could fake missing two fucking fingers.
I called Pamela and asked her out. She said, “Why don’t you come to my place instead? I’ll make you dinner.” I hadn’t had a home-cooked meal in a long time, so that sounded great. I bought a bottle of wine and headed on over.
Her place was huge. I lived in a two-room studio apartment, but this woman had a house the size of a small country. Apparently I had snagged a rich gal. I rang the door bell, and it played the first few notes of Beethoven’s Fifth.
“Hello, lover,” she breathed. “Come right inside. Dinner’s about ready.” She led me into the dining room and walked back into the kitchen. “I’ve just got to freshen up a bit, and then I’ll bring in the appetizers.”
The dining room had an immense, oaken table that would have stretched from one end of my apartment clear into my next door neighbor’s. The setting looked antique. The silverware was actually silver, and the plates were china rimmed with gold.
Suddenly I remembered the bottle of wine in my hand. I walked into the kitchen and found an ice bucket. I opened her freezer, looking for some ice. Inside the freezer was a familiar-looking plastic bag.
“My god,” I gasped. “She kept them!”
I didn’t hear her walk up behind me. “Jared,” she said, “I’m sorry. I should have told you.”
“Why? Why did you…”
“I thought you might want them,” she explained. “Even though they couldn’t reattach your fingers, I thought you might want a souvenir.”
What the hell was I going to do with them? Have them bronzed? Hang them up over my mantle? “No, thanks.” I said. “You can get rid of them.”
She looked embarrassed, and I was uncomfortable myself, so we didn’t touch on the subject again. Dinner was awkward at first, but the bottle of wine helped us to relax. After a long meal and dissert, Pamela looked at me across the table and smiled that same devilish smile. “Oh Jared, I know we just met last night, but I have to tell you something… I want you inside of me.”
I spent the night in her bed. The next morning, she called a caterer and had breakfast delivered. Wine and cheese, French bread, and omelets with caviar. The wine was an entirely different class than the bottle I brought over the night before. It was older than I was! Of course, she paid for it all. Like I said, I worked at a factory. I could barely afford fast food, let alone caviar.
Later that day, I had to go see a doctor to get a note for work. I told them I already had one, but they wanted a note from their doctor. Apparently mine wasn’t good enough for them.
Two weeks went by, and I didn’t hear from her. Maybe I was bad in bed, or maybe she was realized how little money I had. I didn’t know what happened.
I had always been poor. My mother got pregnant in high school, and my father skipped town to avoid paying child support. My mother’s parents abandoned her, too. They were religious folk, ashamed of what their daughter had done. So she worked three jobs, trying to support us both. She was a saint, and I absolutely adored her. But now, I felt like a failure. After all that time being poor, I had met a rich woman and ruined it. What had I done wrong?
I had run out of sick days, so I had to go back to work. Usually I spent my time at work like a zombie, not thinking about much of anything. But that day was different. I couldn’t stop thinking about her.
After work, I went home and had a few drinks. I thought I was going to spend the night alone, but Pamela called me again. “Come on over,” she said. “I get lonely in this big, old house, and I simply must to have you for dinner.”
I sat down at the dining room table, and saw that it was a completely different set of gold-rimmed china. She brought in the biggest, juiciest steak I’d ever seen in my life. She had made herself a salad. She said she didn’t want any steak, that she wasn’t very hungry, but I kept catching her looking at me, licking her lips.
Finally she spoke. “I have a confession to make. I wanted to call you after that first night, but I was afraid.”
“Why?” I asked. “Do I scare you?”
“I wasn’t afraid of you. I was afraid of what you might say… What you would say when I told you my secret.”
“Here we go,” I thought. “She’s married, or she’s got some disease, or maybe a couple of kids.”
She took a deep breath and sighed. “I told you I kept your fingers in case you wanted them, and that was true. But, when you told me to throw them away, I didn’t. I kept them in the freezer for days, without even knowing why. Finally, I realized: I had to taste them.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “What the hell are you talking about?” I asked. “What do you mean, taste them?”
“I… I took them out of the freezer, and waited for them to thaw. I cut off the meat and boiled it in a stew. It wasn’t much, but it was… delicious would be a monumental understatement. It was an experience like I have never had before! I feel so close to you, Jared. I know you will always be a part of me now, forever and ever.”
“How can you be so calm about it? That’s cannibalism! It’s just not normal!”
“What?” she said casually. “It’s not like you were doing anything with them.”
I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to leave. Rich or no, there was no way I was going to date someone who was so obviously unbalanced. I went home and tried desperately to forget about what had occurred. But how the hell do you forget that your girlfriend is a cannibal?
I went to sleep and had the first of the nightmares. Pamela in a low-cut dress the color of congealed blood. Smiling, she dropped to her knees. She licked her lips and sunk her teeth into me. I woke up screaming.
After a few nights, I just stopped sleeping. I couldn’t stand to have the damn dream again! I went to work in a daze. I didn’t remember doing it, but apparently I threw the wrong switch and sent the conveyor belt into reverse. Fifty thousand dollars in equipment, destroyed instantly. Needles to say, I was fired on the spot.
A month went by, and what little savings I had was gone. My bills turned from “second notice” to “third notice” to downright threatening letters in red envelopes. As I read yet another angry note from my landlord, I finished the last of my food.
And then, I got a letter from mother. She had been in a car accident, and both her legs were crushed. The doctors had to replace both her hips and put metal rods in her legs. She would need months of physical therapy to walk again. And she wanted to know if I could help her with the avalanche of medical bills that was threatening to bury her alive.
I’m ashamed to say it, but I tried to drink away my problems. I don’t remember much of the next few days. Finally, the day before the telephone company was going to shut off my service, I got a call.
“Jared? It’s me, Pamela. I know you don’t like me anymore, and I completely understand. However, I have a proposition for you. Can you come to my place for dinner?” The woman who ruined my life, who destroyed me, wanted me to come over for dinner? Oh, this had better be good! I had a cold shower and drank coffee until I felt sober enough to drive. It was a long drive to her place, and I wanted to get there in one piece.
She greeted me at the door with a sly smile and a kiss on the cheek. I wanted to throw her to the floor and stomp on her head until her skull gave way. But I didn’t. I had to hear her little proposal first. She led me into a small sitting room, where three men in white coats were waiting. “Jared, these are my friends: Dr. Drummond, Dr. Fielding, and Dr. Welting.” We shook hands and sat down. Pamela left, returning a moment later with cocktails on a silver tray.
I was tense, struggling to hold back my anger, but I forced myself to make polite conversation. It felt like hours until we got down to business.
“Jared,” Pamela said finally, “As you have seen, I am a very rich woman. And wealth allows one to indulge certain… desires.”
“What desires?” I snapped. “Get to the damn point.”
“If that’s the way you want it,” she laughed. “You, Jared. I desire you. Or rather, a part of you. I can still taste your flesh in my mouth, and my body aches for more. That’s why these surgeons are here. Like Shakespeare’s money lender, I want a pound of your flesh. More, even. I am prepared to offer you one hundred thousand dollars a pound, for however much you care to sell.”
She said it calmly, casually, as if she was asking me to pass the salt. I remember thinking something like, “I’m in hell. She’s the devil, and I’m in hell. It’s the only reasonable explanation for all of this.” But to her, I said simply, “I have to go.”
“Twenty-four hours,” she said. “The deal is only good until this time tomorrow. There are plenty of other people in need, men in dire straits who would gladly sell me their bodies.”
I couldn’t sleep at all that night. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw her face. I saw her looming over me, a fork and knife clenched in her hands. She smiled and licked her lips, looking at me like I was a god damn pot roast.
My mother would lose everything if I didn’t help her. No savings, no Social Security; she would have nothing. And without a job, there would be no way for me to save her from bankruptcy or even starving to death. And I was about to get evicted. I didn’t exactly love the idea of being homeless. The next day, I called her with my answer.
“Jared, how good of you to call. Before you say anything, let me tell you that my friends the doctors have been paid very well. They are the best surgeons in the country, and I guarantee they will keep everything in the strictest confidence. And as for the money, it is being held at the Wethersfield National Bank. You can check the balance of the account yourself. Now, what will it be?”
I had already made up my mind, but it took me a small eternity to get out the words. “I need the money desperately, but even so, I have to say… yes. Damn you to hell.” So I did it. God help me, I did it. I sold her my leg!
It took me two months to recover from the operation and complete my physical therapy. The money paid my mother’s medical bills and bought me a very nice prosthetic. Powerful electric motors, synthetic skin… It even had little fake hairs. All that time in the private hospital room, I promised myself I would quit drinking. Alcohol had cost me far too much to ever go near it again. But I was in torment. My mind refused to accept the enormity of my actions. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t even relax. I had to have another drink.
And so, I returned here to this bar. I sat in that stool down there, handed the bartender a hundred dollar bill, and said “Whiskey. Keep it coming.”
After I’d had a few drinks, the bartender leaned over to me like he was going to tell me a secret. “Hey,” he said quietly, “I don’t mean to be rude, but I have to know: how’d you lose the fingers?”
A chill went down my spine. “What the hell do you mean?” I said. “I remember seeing you here that night. For god’s sake, it was only a few months ago! A guy cuts off his own fingers and you forget about it?”
“Listen, buddy, I’m sorry… I remember you now. You’re that guy who cuts off his fingers.” But I could tell he had no idea what the hell I was talking about.
I left the bar and went home to get my revolver. I probably should have waited a while to sober up, but I couldn’t control myself. I dropped the gun in my pocket and headed for Pamela’s. I couldn’t find the bell in the darkness, so I pounded on the door until she answered.
“Spend it already?” she laughed. “Good. I feel like a snack.”
I shoved her out of the way and stepped inside, locking the door behind me. “Listen, bitch, I talked to the bartender. He doesn’t remember my little accident. Tell me the truth… What really happened to my fingers?”
“My little Jared has turned detective! As the villain in this tale, I suppose its time for me to confess! Yes, Jared, I lied about your accident. The night we met, I noticed you long before you noticed me. I saw you playing that game with your knife, and it gave me an idea. I could get you drunk, take you out to my car and cut off your fingers, and no one would be the wiser… You should count yourself lucky that I didn’t take more!”
“So you planned this from the beginning,” I said, my hand going to my pocket. “You’ve always been a cannibal. You monster!” I drew my gun and jammed it in her face, but she just laughed.
“Yes, Jared. I’m a cannibal. What are you going to do, Jared? Shoot me? You come to your ex-girlfriend’s house, obviously drunk, and put a bullet in her head. You will spend the rest of your life in prison. How is a one-legged man going to defend himself from a big, strong cell mate?”
I felt like I was drowning. She had me. There was nothing I could do.
“But wait, Jared… There’s more! I bribed the foreman at your factory to cause an accident and then blame it on you. I even had someone go to your mother’s house and cut the breaks on her car. I wanted your body, and I made you give it to me! Aren’t I clever?”
I had to get out of there before my rage overcame my sense of self-preservation. I went home, had a few more drinks, and passed out on the couch. I started looking for a new house the next day. There were several nice places across town, but nothing I could move into immediately.
Two weeks went by. I was in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, when I heard a noise coming from the hallway. It was a high-pitch moan, almost like a cat in heat. I looked in the peephole, and my mouth dropped open in astonishment. Pamela was in the hallway, writhing on the floor.
“Jared!” she screamed. “Jared, come out here!”
I grabbed my gun and opened the door. “Why are you here? Why won’t you leave me alone?”
“I finished it! I tried to make it last, but its all gone!” She whined like a toddler. “I’m hungry, Jared! I need more of you.”
“You’re insane. Get out of here before I call the-” But before I could get the word out, she sprang to her feet and threw herself at me. I was knocked back through the door and into my apartment. She landed on top of me. She bit me, taking a chunk out of my neck. I screamed and grabbed her shoulder with my free hand, throwing her to the floor. Two bullets in the chest and she was gone.
A horrific story, I know. But one good thing came out of it: I had enough money left over to buy my own restaurant. If you ever get a chance, you should come by. Be sure to order the pot roast… I make it myself.