I’ve taken a flash from a while ago and created a little bit of horror for you… with humour of course…
‘Arnold, will you stop that racket.’
‘Yes Mother.’ Arnold put the wire brush down carefully and gripped his hands into fists, imagining how hard he’d have to squeeze to stop her moaning. If there was one thing everyone agreed upon it was that Viola Crump was an Olympic class moaner. And that Arnold was as near to a Saint as a living person can be given how he put up with his mother’s whinges and gripes.
‘My sinuses are…’
Arnold tuned out, returning to his ice cream van. Wherever on the sinus spectrum Viola’s nasal passages sat, it was fair to assume they were not at the positive end. He picked up the paint brush and carefully covered the patch he’d been working on with a coat of magnolia. He stroked the panel softly. He’d need a new van soon if he was to continue his daily trips to the park. And if they stopped, if he couldn’t get away…
‘Arnold, what have you done with my tissues? You know I need my tissues. If I don’t have my tissues…’
Arnold sighed deeply. Her tissues were where they always were. As he pulled himself to his feet, readying himself to find them for her, he began to calculate the quantity of tissue it would take to block her mouth.
As it turned out it was fifteen.
‘Your mum’s feeling better, is she?’ Millicent Jackson (number 37, green front door, lazy eye) had been complaining about Viola’s rants for ages, though Arnold hadn’t expected the silence to be noticed quite so quickly.
‘Oh?’ The expression suggested surprise but Millicent wasn’t about to complain, preferring a smug leer to rabid hypocrisy. ‘Her sister?’
Arnold never said. His focus was elsewhere. If Millicent was suspicious, then his other neighbours would be too. First though they were solicitous. ‘You’re looking peaky, Arnold. Are you getting enough greens?’ asked Harriet Stromboli (number 33, flaking soffits, permanent scowl).
‘Will you be having another barbecue? Only…’ Martin Paddock (The Coach House, ornamental lions, tweed cap) wrinkled his nose. ‘Only we’re worried the steaks might be a bit off.’
That’s when Arnold decided he needed a change of diet. Not like Viola, when she chose to become a vegan to spite his detestation of cucumber, but of necessity. It was a Tuesday. He grilled a small slice of buttock with rosemary and, and this was an inspiration, ground cardamom.
As he slowly masticated all he could think was ‘it’s nothing like chicken’.
Being a cannibal, however, would only get him so far. He might be able to ingest the flesh, but he couldn’t imagine how he would deal with the blood and bones and various inedible looking viscera.
Arnold sat in his van, letting the queue of mewling infants and their fractious carers build while he pondered this dilemma.
‘Mum, why doesn’t he have strawberry sauce? This is yucky.’
Arnold smiled at the gobby little girl, imagining how her complexion would itself turn strawberry if only he could ram the cone into her yapping mouth. She’d turn into his mother if something wasn’t done.
He drove home, ignoring the clanking transmission and the unsettling rattle from the front bearings and began to formulate a plan.
Arnold wasn’t given to speed, having a build and a temperament more suited to comfort, so to describe his actions as ‘feverish’ possibly overplays the urgency with which he set about his self-imposed task. He ground the bones in an industrial-sized pestle, having drained the marrow into vats which together he whipped into a frothing cream, flavoured with vanilla and banana essence. The blood, he marinaded with his own concoction of spices and sugars, assisting its natural tendency to clot with pectin.
Arnold felt nervous. He raided his scant savings and procured a new van on hire purchase. If he was going down it would be in a blaze of hubris. Carefully he drew the new logo and the script which he stencilled on the side panels. He drove to the park early and set up, waiting his first customers. It was a hot day, perfect to sell ice cream.
His first customer was the gobby girl. ‘I’ve a new topping, dearie,’ he intoned. ‘Just for you.’
Seven year olds are naturally suspicious but the sticky scent with background notes of her last burger drew her in. She tested the red sauce with his pointy little tongue that made Arnold think of snakes and chimeras.
A wide smile broke across the usually disgruntled countenance. ‘This is yum!’
Word spread and the queues curved into the distance. People asked where he’d got his ideas, how he’d sourced his ingredients. Arnold smiled knowingly and tapped the picture on the side of the van, an image of Viola emerging from a cone. ‘Everything,’ Arnold said slowly, ‘comes from mother.’