“Back for more pie, eh?” Curtis whistled through his teeth.
“No,” Judy said, holding her fresh-baked pie. “I thought I’d bring a pie as thanks for last time.”
“What is it?”
“It’s cherry pie.”
“Mmmm,” Curtis lewdly licked his lips. “I’d take a taste of your cherry any day, little girl! HAAaaa~!” His laugh turned into a wheeze and then a cough. Judy had a lovely grandfather who was always a gentleman in the presence of women. She had thought that it was just the era, but this man was dispelling all her illusions.
“Are you all right?” she finally asked.
“Fine,” he coughed. “Fine. Just get me some water with that pie.”
Judy looked for some bottles of water around the kitchen. She eventually decided that there was none and decided to use the tap. “Here, ” she said, offering the drink to him. “I’ll go cut up the pie.”
Judy was proud of her pie. The crust had turned out gold and flaky and the cherries were just oozing out of the inside. Curtis’s pumpkin pie was good, but Judy’s pie could win awards! She gave him the second slice that hadn’t fallen apart.
Curtis’s hand shook as he blew on the forkful of pastry. He chewed, slowly, swallowed, then put his fork down on the plate. Judy waited eagerly for a reaction.
“You know, my wife was a terrible cook.”
This was not the response Judy was hoping for. She reminded herself that he didn’t have long to live and strangling him wouldn’t be worth it.
“Oh? I didn’t know you had a wife,” she grinned.
“Sixty-two years. Loony as a cuckoo bird, that one. Couldn’t read anything without her glasses and she’s dyslexic to boot. ‘Curtis,’ she’d say to me. ‘Why do we have something called “bear slices” in the pantry?’ An’ I’d tell her, “Nonsense! Those are pear slices, you old bat!’ We’d argue like that for fifteen minutes and then hobble to the bedroom and make love.”
Judy tried to erase that image from her head. She put some cherry pie in her mouth. The cherries were delicious, just a little overripe, but the texture tasted bad today, like loose skin. The thought of old sex was affecting her palate. “What happened to her – your wife?”
“She died,” he took another bite of the pie and made a face. Judy bit her lip, trying to be civil.
“I mean, how did she pass?”
“Pass? Oh. Ovarian cancer.”
“For what?” bits of crust flew from his mouth. He pointed his fork at her. “Did you give my wife cancer?”
“No. I just… I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Maaah! I didn’t lose nothin’! She’s dead!” He didn’t seem at all worried about his wife dying. All manners and protocol told Judy that she should be horrified by this, but she also felt a bit of admiration for him. Curtis didn’t tip-toe around death. She liked that.
“Gad damn it!” Curtis cried. His pie fell to the ground.
“Don’t worry. I’ll get you some more pie.”
“No. Sit down.” She did as she was told but ground her teeth as she did. She probably shouldn’t have or she was going to exacerbate her TMJ. He didn’t notice, anyway. The man just kept talking.
“You know, if my wife heard me say the Lord’s name in vain, she would have flayed my hide. Got in the habit of sayin’ it like that fucking Dan Aykroyd guy.”
“That was the movie. ‘W’ere on a mission from God.’ You know?”
He sat for a minute, smacking his gums and staring into space. Just as Judy was about to say something to break the silence, Curtis opened his mouth. “Gad, I’m miss that crazy bitch.” He sighed, coughed, then closed his eyes. He looked like exhaustion had come and scooped everything out of him in an instant.
“Well, I suppose I’ll be going. I hope you enjoy the rest of your pie.”
“Goodbye. Don’t bring pie anymore. I’ll bake.”
“Bye, Curtis. Have a good evening.”
When Judy got home, she screamed into her pillow.