evening house

Evening traffic was a slow moving metallic sludge, flowing both ways between KL and PJ. Dark cars inched slowly beneath low hanging dark purple sky. I was falling asleep behind the wheel and the remnants of the coffee in the green and white tumbler proved too inadequate to keep me conscious. The road ahead was the same as the road behind: a single stretch of cars driven by sleepy strangers. The deepening grey of the day was lighted up one by one as drivers flicked on their on their headlights. I did the same as I reached the junction that led to a slip road leading towards a row of bungalow houses sitting in between thick, heavy trees. It wasn’t even a choice, I needed to get off the road or crash into someone. I applied the indicator light to the left and swerved into the road, before going up the rise to the narrow entrance of the compound of a brown colored house. There were three parked cars nestled in the front porch. The cars looked familiar, but I couldn’t place where I had seen them, or who the owners were. I managed to squeeze in my car on the last fourth spot and stepped out. The rain’s consistency surprised me. How was it possible for the volume of raindrops to remain the same for the past three hours? It was neither a downpour, nor a drizzle. Somewhere in between where the skin of the exposed person gets drenched within 15 seconds of being out in the open. I ducked instinctively and made for the main entrance. The glass sliding door was slightly ajar, as if someone knew I was coming and had it open just for me. “You’re late,” a deep female voice sounded. “I’m sorry. Traffic was horrendous,” I answered. In the gloom of the living room I could make out the slim built of an attractive woman with sad eyes sitting in on red wing chair. She stood up and reached for me. I caught her hands and kissed them. She smiled.

“It’s dark in here,” I said.

“You know how he is. He can’t stand the light. Says it makes him dizzy.”

“I need to lie down and take a nap. Otherwise I’m liable to fall asleep behind the wheel and end up smashing some other car. Is there a room available for me?” I asked.

“You know there is,” she said. She reached out for my hand then pulled me up the stairs to a narrow corridor, where she stopped halfway. “The last room on the left,” she said, “you can use that.” I nodded at her then walked to the room and opened the door. It was a cozy room with a small lighted table lamp on a side table by the bed. I took off my shoes, my socks and then my jacket before laying down on the quilt. I shut my eyes and stretched my legs and arm. it was like landing on a cloud. I ignored the sounds of someone crying in the next room, and swiftly fell asleep.

I woke up several hours later to the sharp smell of fried onions. It took me a full minute to remember where I was. Evening House. I was at the Evening House. I dug out my mobile phone from my pocket and checked the time, it was almost midnight. I sat up in surprise.

“You’re awake,” she said. I turned to the voice and saw her sitting on the chair beside the bed. “You slept like a baby.”

“You mean I cried, tossed and turned, and made sucking noises?” I said with a smile.

“Something like that,” she said.

“I smell food. I’m hungry. Does that make sense?” I asked.

“Supper’s almost ready. Wash up and join us downstairs,” she said. She stood, reached down to squeeze my toe then quietly left the room.

I slipped off the bed, and walked to the window to see the world outside. The row of cars were still there, inching slowly in the dark. Who were these people? I wondered. Where were they going? I did as advised and washed up, feeling well rested, stronger but very hungry. Maybe it was one of those special supper nights? I could be so lucky, I thought.

And lucky I was. It was indeed special supper night. The others were seated around the table holding their fork and knifes looking up in surprise at me as I walked down the stairs to the dining room.

“You’re up early,” someone said. I smiled at him and nodded.

“I’m hungry,” I said. They nodded back at me in silence. The kitchen door swung open and she walked in holding a huge tray with a large silver dome.

“Starters,” she said. Everyone at the table banged on the table in a good nature way, making it a more celebrating outbursts than anger. I sat down beside a thin woman with large bosoms and smiled at her. She beamed up at me and banged the tbale even louder. As suddenly as they had started banging the table, they stopped immediately when the silver dome was removed. They stared in wonderment at the huge, roasted turkey that glistened with oil and green herbs.

“Please keep some space for the main meal, okay?” she said. Everyone looked at her, nodded, then started attacking the turkey. I joined in and came away with three large pieces of the white meat. I was starving so I pushed in the pieces in my mouth. The others dropped their cutlery and just grabbed pieces of turkey with their hands and started ripping it apart. They too were hungry like me, apparently. Everything was gone in five minutes. She appeared shortly from the kitchen, her head poking out from the kitchen door and said, “Are you ready for the main meal?” I joined in the jovial shouts of yes and yes damn it!

“Okay, you look ready!” she shouted back. Then walked out from the kitchen holding a leash attached to the neck of a teen-age boy. His mouth was stuffed with a piece of potato and his eyes were sewn up tight. Both his hands were tied at wrists in front of him. His whole body was covered in oil and green herbs.

“Yay!” everyone shouted. I shouted too, but my voice was drowned out by the others.

“Make room on the table!” she shouted. The woman beside me stood up and shoved the remains of the turkey and the tray it was in aside with both her arms. The others pushed their plates, glasses and cutlery aside in similar fashion, causing the whole room to resonate with the sounds of smashing glass and clanging silver.

“Grab his arms and legs please,” she said, shouting above the noise. Four people took a limb each laid the teen-age boy on his back on the table, then proceeded to tie the limbs with thick ropes already positioned at each of the table legs.

“I want his cheeks!” the woman beside me screamed, “I have dibs on his cheeks!”

Another guest shouted, “I want both his palms!”

Pretty soon the whole room started to place their dibs on specific body parts. I was happy with any pieces but I had a thing for the softness of the tongue. It was chewy and it had bite.

“Everyone, please,” she said, “let’s not be savages. We’re all civilized here.”


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