Here’s a macabre piece of flash fiction for the Sweet And Scary Blog Hop:
Martha looked out the door peephole at the young man knocking on her door, glad that he wasn’t a trick or treater. He was spending his time looking at the carved pumpkin bringing in the holiday, and she thought she heard an outright chuckle at the “Trumpkin” she’d carved on a whim.
About time he got here, she thought. She smoothed down her apron and opened the door.
“Mrs. Wingate?” the young man asked. “I’m Trevor Horsach, the agency sent me to start your basement cleanup.”
She cocked her head, wearing a small smile.
“Yes, I’ve been waiting for you.” She held the door open a little wider and gestured for him to come in. “I’ll take you down there so you can get the lay of the land and I can show you just what I need done.” As they walked toward the basement steps, she noticed that he raised his head, sniffing the air.
“Someone’s having a barbecue.” She smiled.
“I’m firing up my smoker, it’s vented to the outside, but that’s one of the things I want you to look at,” she told him. “I want to make sure it’s safe, and when everything’s done, I’d like to invite you to an All Soul’s Day dinner.”
He grinned. “I could eat.” Then the light went out in his eyes.
“I—I have to tell you something first though, ma’am,” he muttered. “I have a severe peanut allergy, so I need to be really careful.” He patted his jacket pocket. “Epi-Pen.”
She let out a short tut of sympathy. “Your momma must have had a time cooking for you, Trevor.”
“Well, I was an orphan and I grew up in a group home, so they knew how to handle things like that.”
“Well, you’ll get fed safely tomorrow, I promise.” She led the way as they carefully traveled the stairs down to the basement, taking him over to where the crusted blackened smoker was working its magic, an enclosed pane of glass indeed venting the pipe to the outside.
“Here it is, and if you’d just check to make sure that everything’s okay, and just pick up a few things around here, I’ll go make some lemonade.” He nodded as she made her way back upstairs, then inspected the smoker pipe and the seal in the window glass.
“Sure enough, safe as aces.” He dusted his hands off, then walked around the floor space, stopping at a small table.
“Huh—wonder why she’d need knitting needles down here.” Shrugging his shoulders, he gathered the few pieces of junk he could see and put them under the stairs, scratching his head as he heard her coming down the stairs. He grabbed the tray from her.
“Now you let me help, Mrs. Wingate,” he muttered, turning to put the tray down.
“There isn’t much to get rid of that I can see,” he said. “I put it all under the stairs, and I checked out your vent. It’s fine.”
She handed him his glass of lemonade, taking one herself.
“Drink up, then, young man, and I’ll pay you so you can get on your way. Thanks for all your help.” She watched him take a sip of his lemonade, then—
—watched him as his eyes got wide, struggling for breath. She grabbed the glass out of his hand.
“Are you all right? What’s the matter?”
He grabbed at his throat. ”Pen—–aghhhh,” he garbled, slapping at his pockets.
“Your pen? Let me get it for you.” She reached into his pocket, then tossed it on the table behind her.
He sank to his knees, and as he lost consciousness he thought he heard her say “I guess I didn’t need my needles after all; a nice swipe of peanut oil on your glass did the trick. Thanks, sonny.”
Martha beamed at all the guests in her house enjoying their food.
“How do you like the pulled pork, Fred?” she asked. “I used peanut oil this year.” Her next door neighbor grunted, his mouth full of sandwich as he wiped his mouth on one of the plentiful paper napkins.
“Man, this has to be your best yet, Ma’am,” he told her, and the rest of the guests nodded in agreement. “It’s been too long since you cooked for us.”
She went back into her kitchen and came out bearing another full tray.
“Smoked ribs, anyone? The meat just falls off the bone.”