the banana story

She was rifling through her cabinets while he peeled bananas on the kitchen island. She pulled out the chocolate chips, maraschino cherries, and rainbow sprinkles and set them on the cabinet. Meanwhile he was rifling through the drawers the find a good paring knife to make the ultimate banana split.

"Now Roger, that won't do at all," she said gently as he grabbed a steak knife with a wooden handle. "Why not try this one?" She opened the adjacent drawer and pulled out a huge butcher knife with a rubber sleeve covering the blade. "This is the best knife I have in my kitchen."

She removed the sleeve and closed the drawer, licking her lips and admiring the gleaming blade that was as big as Roger's hand from  wrist to fingertips. It was stainless steel, Japanese, and had a few nicks on the tip from frequent sharpening.

"Golly Beverly, isn't that a bit of overkill for a couple of bananas?" he asked.

"Nonsense. This knife always gets the job done. Now have you peeled them?"

He stepped sideways to show her the naked bananas lying on the bamboo cutting board. She set the knife on the countertop and walked across the kitchen to the door leading to the garage. "I'm just going to step outside to the deep freezer and get our ice cream. You go ahead and start slicing." She shut the door behind her.

Roger was in his late seventies, a widower whose wife of thirty years had passed away five years ago. He met Beverly through his deep water exercise class on Thursday mornings at the Y. She was a spirited woman who rarely missed a class, and they were enjoying their first date together after a hearty class. He had told her that he was so hungry after swimming that he could eat a horse, and she laughed and told him that her banana splits made her famous among the other seniors in her neighborhood. They had dried off and headed straight to her house to enjoy them together.

Beverly came back into the kitchen with a gallon-sized pail of vanilla ice cream. She saw him slicing the first banana into tiny chunks, and thrust the pail into the sink, rushing to his side.

"No, no, no! That won't do!" She grabbed his wrist and he dropped the knife onto the countertop, leaving it clanging against the ceramic top. She was glaring at him.

"Did I do something wrong?" he asked, concerned. She had never expressed anger at him before.

Her expression softened. "Dear, you have to flay them. Like this." She picked up the knife with authority and positioned it long-ways across the banana. She sliced it in one fell swoop with a soft thwack.

"There. Now isn't that pretty," she cooed, "Now I'm going to get the good china bowls, they belonged to my daughter. You can start scooping the ice cream." She wiped her hands on her apron and headed into the foyer to search for the china.

Roger looked around the kitchen for the ice cream scoop, but he decided not to serve anything without the bowls on hand. Aha, we need whipped cream, he thought to himself. Now where would she keep it? 

He opened the refrigerator door and didn't see any. Then it occurred to him that she had a huge deep freezer in the garage. Perhaps she would have some whipped cream there. He dodged the kitchen island and opened the door to the garage to go outside, leaving it slightly ajar.

The garage was hot and muggy from the summer heat, and it smelled a bit like rotten vegetables. He grimaced at the sudden rankness and swiftly opened the lid to the freezer. There were bags of frozen meat layered at the top, and he had to move several of them out of the way to pour through the freezer's contents. Suddenly he stopped. His hand had fallen onto something sticky, with crystallized black hair on top of it. It was heavy and solid, and unlike everything else in the freezer, it wasn't wrapped in paper or in a prepackaged box. It was raw.

He dug his nails into the hair, trying to pry it loose from the ice crystals surrounding it. Curiosity was killing him. He finally got a good enough grip to roll it over and get a good look at the object. It was round and rolled over easily once he was able to loosen it from the ice.

"What the hell?" he said out loud.

His eyes widened. At first he wasn't sure what he was looking at, and he blinked twice. His tongue went dry. It was a human head, severed at the neck, with blank, open eyes and and expressionless face. She looked about thirty years old, and her hair was matted with frozen blood around her chin. He felt nauseous and doubled over the open freezer, bending at the hip to stare at the floor to quell his stomach.

He saw a shadow at his feet behind him.

"I see you've found Rosemary," Beverly said, gripping the knife in her right hand.