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SOLOMON SAYS: SMFA (rev) by Timothy Saint

© Timothy Saint

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* * denotes italics

‘Solomon Says’ is a collection of Modern Morality Tales comprising twenty short stories, each inspired by an Old Testament quotation from the Book of Proverbs – traditionally supposed to have been penned by King Solomon. All the stories are posted on YWO.


SOLOMON SAYS: SMFA (revised)


A Short Story – 1,500 Words


An onion. Sadie. Sadie and onion. Sounds like a meal doesn’t it? Liver and onion. Or crisps. Cheese and onion. Doesn’t look like much does it, the onion? Sits on the chopping board. Quite harmless. Take that thin brown wrapper off it though - different story then. Layers. Layers within layers. Like lies. And duplicity. Each layer when stripped away reveals a new face. And every new lie uncovered makes the eyes sting and the tears spring unbidden from wherever tears come from. Like Sadie.

Funny name in itself really, Sadie. Makes you think of de Sade. He knew how to hurt people. Again, not unlike Sadie. At least he got some sort of perverted pleasure out of it. Was candid about meting out the pain. You probably knew what you were getting with the Marquis. Not with Sadie though.

Pretty good analogy actually - Sadie and the onion. Chop, chop, Sadie, chop, onion, chop, chop. Large sharp knife. Romantic meal for two, Sadie? Coming right up. One multi-layered vegetable of duplicity and mendacity neatly chopped and diced. Large. Sharp. Knife. There’s three words to chew over. Not for Sadie though. She doesn’t deserve that. You only deserve the best I always tell her. And she had the best too. Both of us coming off the back of bad, broken relationships. Good thing we found each other I said. Made for each other she said. We’ll make this work I said. Or die trying she said. Not going through all that pain again we both said.

Like children. Reciting and reaffirming. Repeat the catechism and keep the nastiness away. Repeat over and over until such time as expectations become convictions and convictions transmute into reality. Unless one of the participants is only paying lip service to the credo. Then it becomes just so many words. Words that paint pictures. Words and pictures. Ephemeral. No substance. Nothing. Lots of promise but no delivery.

Red pepper on the chopping board. The colour. The name. The promise. Red for passion. Passion with Sadie like no passion two lovers have ever experienced. A meeting of minds as well as a meeting of bodies. Two people as one. Passion as mutual as it is deep. But cut into the pepper and what do you find? Seeds. Seeds of doubt. Seeds contain potential. Potential to deceive. To step outside the mutually agreed boundaries that govern the dynamics of a relationship. Potential to do anything really.

You don’t know the seeds are there until you cut into the pepper. Dissect and examine. Some things can’t bear too close an examination can they, Sadie? That’s the thing with the red pepper. When you go beyond the colour and the name - the obvious external properties - and use the analytical tools you are blessed with, the red pepper isn’t all that hot, it isn’t particularly peppery and passion isn’t mutual or exclusive or real. It’s as illusory as the words and pictures conjured up by the onion. Sadie likes peppers though. Red, green or yellow.

Carefully cut out the seeds. Can’t have any potential polluting the certainties contained within this particular meal. Chop, chop, Sadie, guilt, chop, chop, red stain on my chopping board. Cuckold. Do you have to be married to be a cuckold? Don’t know. Look it up. My dictionary is my friend. Never let me down yet. It was the only book I had while I was away. Went in with me and came out with me. Large Sharp Knife. Still like that phrase.

Wash the mushrooms under running water. Wouldn’t want to poison dear Sadie. I don’t know though. More ammunition for my chopping board. Funny vegetable the mushroom. Reminds me of that joke about management strategies. Our boss uses the mushroom growing technique - keeps us in the dark and occasionally throws manure on top of us. So why am I not laughing? Sadie. Sweetness and light. Light maybe, but not averse to keeping certain parties in the dark. Well, not certain parties. Me.

Like a mushroom. Me as a mushroom. Ordure heaped on my head. Along with indignity. And shame. The belittlement of the man who can’t hold on to his woman. All the effort, the striving to achieve some sort of normality, all crumbling into the dust of anti-climax . Sadie, the shining beacon that represented the pinnacle of my long climb back to full sanity. A hollow vessel. Feet of clay.

Chop, chop, chop, mushrooms, not wild - bought from Waitrose - no chance of anybody being *accidentally* poisoned. The Peterborough Poisoner perhaps? That’s better than Large Sharp Knife. I think.

There’s her key in the lock. That’s how far we've travelled together. Keys to each other’s flats. To travel with hope is a better thing than to arrive, someone once said. I thought we had done both. How wrong can you be? Perfunctory peck on the cheek. Good thing my hands are covered in romantic-dinner-for-two ingredients. Can’t even look her full in the face, let alone embrace her. She prattles on in a way I found attractive until recently. Very recently in fact. Right up until the moment I saw her outside the railway station in the arms of another man. Yesterday.

I notice she doesn’t mention that. She notices the chilly atmosphere. She does mention that. I ask her to account for her movements yesterday. She bridles. Asks sarcastically if I’d like a complete breakdown. Breakdown. I don’t like that word. It wasn’t a breakdown as such - really. More of a temporary loss of control. Manslaughter due to diminished responsibility I think the judge said before he sent me away to be cured. Sadie knows all about it. Well, she knows I had some sort of breakdown. No point going into too much detail.

I’m better now, anyway. I understand now that a man who steals your woman is not solely culpable and does not deserve to die. Once I understood that, they let me go. I don’t know why I couldn’t see it before. Men don’t go around stealing other men’s partners. Not against that partner’s will anyway. My recovery began as soon as I realised that it’s actually the woman who is invariably at fault. It’s the woman who deserves to be punished. Isn’t it Sadie?

I didn’t share my new-found theory with the doctors of course. Long, sterile debates would only have ensued. The nature of evil. Right versus wrong. Morals. Ethics. The battle between the conscious and the unconscious. I was only conscious that the psychiatrists were inclined to release me - I held my silence. Rehabilitated. Good as new.

She’s making light of it now. About the atmosphere. Saying our chemistry isn’t working tonight. She doesn’t know anything about chemistry. Her degree is in something called media studies. *My* degree is in chemistry. Actually, she has accounted for her movements yesterday. In detail. Too much detail? The sort of detail a guilty person would come up with if they were expecting to be quizzed? I may have had some problems with my mind over the past few years, but there’s nothing wrong with my eyes.

A woman, tightly clasped by a man old enough to be her father. Sadie’s hair colour. Near as, anyway. Couldn’t see her face, it was buried in the chest of the older man. But it was Sadie. Almost unmistakeable. I know Sadie. We’ve been naked together. How could I not recognise a woman who has been my soulmate, an extension of my own psyche. Even fleetingly from a car window across a busy street. I bear the man no malice though. I am cured.

Dinner is served. She knows something’s wrong. Whose fault is that, Sadie? I think I knew all along she’d find someone else. Go off and leave me, just like all the others. Can’t take it out on the man, of course. Don’t want to go back to hospital. Sadie is looking suspiciously at the pasta. At the brown and black speckles that adorn the fusili. It’s pepper - does she think I’ve sprinkled rat poison over a romantic dinner for two? I make a point of tucking into my own similar meal. Lovely Sadie. Pretty Sadie. Poor Sadie. She smiles uncertainly and begins to eat. Eat up, sweetheart.

Sodium Monofluoroacetate - or SMFA - is a white, odourless, tasteless water-soluble salt. It looks like flour or baking soda. It is, in fact, a highly toxic rodenticide and is readily absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract. Even a small dose is fatal to humans. Death occurs in one to four hours. It is the magic ingredient. And it’s not on the pasta. It’s in the raspberry sorbet dessert I prepared earlier. It’s in the fridge. Just desserts. Waiting for Sadie. No, not on the pasta my darling. Revenge is a dish best served cold.



***



A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil;
but the fool rageth, and is confident.
- Proverbs, 14:16










X X X X X X X *Just a few random x’s to make up the word count * X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
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