Enzo Stephens: Food

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Enzo Stephens

The wolf spider was content to hang out on the right shoulder blade of the man’s houndstooth tweed jacket, and, well, pretty much watch the world for potential prey.

It was a large specimen; larger than most of its mates, and, despite its fearsome appearance, the big female was as skittish as the rest of its breed.

But for now, it was content to relax, six of its eight legs sunk into the tweed like Velcro, and watch the air for its next unsuspecting meal, which would not be the owner of the tweed jacket, who, like the resting spider, was content to hang out, sipping coffee at a cast iron table just outside of a quaint little bistro in Nice, France

Nice was nice.

“Ahhh, spring,” breathed the man into the steam from his coffee, and indeed the scene was pastoral; bumpy cobblestones that comprised the street glistening wet; folk up and about on bicycles and their feet, off to do their business in the slow, easy way of life in southern France.

The man tore off a corner of a richly buttered croissant and flicked it toward the street, a meter or so beyond his table-for-one, then leaned back and waited, steaming brew held close to his nose. The French knew their butter, that was for sure.

One sizable pigeon fluttered to the street and began walking in that head-bobbing, chicken-ish way, making a beeline for the bread. It was soon joined by several others, and the man was tempted to flip more chunks of bread out to the incessantly hungry flying rats but decided against it.

The stuff was just too tasty to waste on vermin.

But if streetwise pigeons are anything, they are cagy and bold, and it didn’t take long for one of them to spy the croissant resting on a plate. It hopped to the table, watching, waiting; sensing danger, but testing the waters with boldness nonetheless, because to the bold go the fortunes, so to speak.

The man held motionless and the spider continued its immobility on his back. The pigeon took one step, then another, and when nothing happened, well the allure of that bread overwhelmed the poor bird.

It trotted quickly toward the plate and the man lunged forward and brought his fist down on its head while sliding the plate away from any potential splatter to protect that luscious croissant.

The hitching spider was jostled, but unmoved by the festivities.

The sudden crash was jarring but fleeting. A woman stepped out from the bistro fumbling about with her phone and her coffee, just in time to see the fresh carnage, gore dripping through the table to the pavement beneath. “What the hell?”

The man used a napkin to push the corpse off the table; it plopped to the pavement, and snared the croissant. “It was going for my food, so I stopped it.”

The corners of her thin lips turned down. “Fucking psycho.”

“Well, maybe I am and maybe I am not. But let me ask you; what would you have done?”

She turned to face him. “What the hell are you talking about? You killed an innocent bird.”

The man leaned forward to replace what was left of his croissant. He pulled a kerchief from his tweed pocket and dabbed his thin lips and clean-shaven, cleft chin. His eyes seemed to glitter in the sparkling morning sun.

“Innocent, you say?”

“Yeah, nut-bag.”

“It wanted my food.”

“So? Let the poor thing have it and go buy yourself another.”

“Well, I believe you have missed the point of this discussion madam, and so I ask you again, what would you have done?”

She stood there a moment; small, feminine fist planted on cocked hip clad in skin-tight jeans, complete with a flowing tee shirt that read ‘Girl Power! Hear Me Purr,’ expressionlessly staring at the man in the houndstooth tweed jacket that murdered a bird in cold blood mere moments ago.

“Fuck it,” and she stepped forward, pulling a chair out across from the man to have herself a seat, and the man smirked.

“You find this interesting, no?”

“I find psychos interesting.”

“Regardless, it is my honor to share your morning coffee with you today.”

“You’re damned polite for a lunatic.”

“You’ll find that lunatics often have the best manners.”

Slurp. “All right, to answer your earlier question; I would have given my bread to the birds and gone to get myself another. I can afford it.”

“And yet you still miss my point.”

“Really, Nostradamus, or whoever the hell you are?”

“Ha! Nostradamus is quite famous, and I am anything but. My name is Martin, and you are…?”

“Bored and annoyed. No idea why I sat down with you, dude. I thought you might be interesting in this entire city of el-bland-o dudes.”

“Well then I’d best make my point before you take your leave. You see, it’s all about food…” He said it as if the word should be capitalized. 

“Yeah, I get it. You were having some food, something else wanted your food. Bim bam boom, you killed it.”

“Look at the carcass now.”

She didn’t want to, but her eyes drifted down to peek beneath the table to see the mashed remains of the bird with flies getting jiggy with it. “Ugh. A corpse right underneath you, and you sit there as if there’s nothing there. You’re pretty fucked up, man.”

The man grinned, and it was not a pleasant grin. There seemed to be a lot of teeth, and they were yellowed, snaggly, and looked sharp as hell. “See? Food. The flies are beginning to feast.”

She stared at the man; the spider resting on his back sensed that something was up, maybe a touch of electricity in the air, and it skittered its way from a vertical resting place to a horizontal resting place on the man’s shoulder.

The man saw it and smiled again.

The woman saw the spider sitting there, saw the man’s smile and just knew that something was decidedly wrong with this guy. She stood up quickly, reaching for her purse when the spider made its move, and it jumped and skittered right into the bowels of the purse.

She let out a yip. “It’s in there! It’s in my purse! Get it out, please, get it out!”

Slurp. “Damned coffee’s cold, which sucks pretty badly.”

She kept reaching for the purse, snaring one of its straps and then letting it go as if it were aflame. “Please, mister, get it out of my purse.

“My point is this; everything that breathes, whether it’s oxygen or carbon dioxide, is food. Everything. Now, is this table food? Well of course not, because it’s a metal table. It can only be eaten by rust, which really isn’t eating per se. But that pigeon I just crushed? Hells ya.”

He paused, and then whispered, “You’re food.”

“Holy shit! What the hell is wrong with you?”

He sat back, crossed arms over chest, concern over disturbing his little eight-legged passenger no longer an issue, and smiled. His mouth yawned open and an impossibly long tongue snaked out, and the woman was transfixed in shock and horror.

She couldn’t pull her eyes away from the monstrosity sitting right across from her, and as she watched, a bulge formed in the middle of the tongue and rolled toward the very tip, and the bright, red flesh of the tongue split and peeled back. An eye opened, staring at her, unblinking.

“Enjoy your spider. They don’t eat much.” He tore off another piece of his croissant and flicked it to the pavement.

“Now either sit down or get lost. No need to disturb the pigeons.”

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Please visit Enzo on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Enzo.stephens.5011

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