Dinner for Eight
By Dan Hoeweler
Who wants to know George Appleton? Only the rats that dwell in his small raggedy house in the middle of the Arizona desert do. He converses with them in his loneliness while rocking back and forth in his chair. Their shrieking, wispy voices speak to him as they scurry about eating the bits of food he leaves. The leader of them is Ike, the alpha rat, who visits George most often.
“The world hates you George” Ike says as he nibbles on a bit of cheese, “that‘s why you‘re stuck here in the middle of the Arizona in this raggedy shack.”
“I hate the world, so it makes sense that the world hates me. It is my destiny that I am to die a lonely, poor man.”
Ike scurries back home with his family, living the life George wants, one in the company of others. George is jealous of this, and sometimes thinks of killing him, but then realizes that Ike is his only companion.
“Why don‘t you do what you‘ve wanted to do all these years? Are you afraid? You are slowly dying as a lonely old man, with your only company being rats. Do it. Kill yourself, you old bum.”
An old revolver hangs on George‘s wall, with bullets in his drawer. Ike keeps Tempting him to use it, urging the old man to off himself. The old man‘s hatred for the world brews in his stomach, sometimes it makes him want to leave this world.
“Why don‘t you go live in your filth with the rest of your kind, rodent?” George says, “Going around and feeding off garbage, you are disgusting. Get some real food.” “You are a useless old man.” Ike replies, “You don‘t work, no one loves you, and you live off your paltry social security check. The world doesn‘t need another useless person. Think of it as population control George.”
“I‘m going to start setting out rat traps you vermin. How do you like that? I can off you and your whole family.”
“You are no better than me. You live in filth and scrounge around, waiting for the government to throw you a piece of food to eat.”
“I‘m going to sleep, and I‘ll take care of you and your friends later.”
The old man tries to sleep, but the rats scurry about underneath his bed. He hears them playing.
“Kill yourself.” the rats whisper repeatedly into his ear.
“Go away you little demons.” He yells, throwing his shoe at them.
They briefly scatter, only to return later and torture him. They keep the old man up the entire night.
At sunrise Ike speaks.
“Your wife died years ago,” he says, “your kids abandoned you and never visit. What‘s the point in continuing? You‘ve destroyed your life and the lives of those you surrounded yourself with. You are poisonous to the touch.”
The old man thinks of his wife, and tears began building up. He thinks of the sins he committed against her; of the infidelity, abuse and lack of love he showed her. He thinks of his son, whom he abandoned because of his disability, of his daughter that he beat. These sins begin to build up within his soul and heart.
Later that night he pulls the trigger of that old revolver that hung above his fireplace. Ike hears the shot and giggles with his pals inside of the hole of George‘s wall. He peaks out and sees George‘s dead corpse face down in a puddle of blood.
Ike prances around in bliss with all his pals, and laps the blood of his old adversary. Blood covered after this tasty shake, they all decide to try the main dish. They eat wonderfully for weeks, licking their chops and laughing at the old man and his foolishness. Ike feels particularly proud of his accomplishment, and believes it to be the tastiest meal he has ever eaten.