2014 | Issue Six | Fiction
HEY! HEY, King Massasoit! Hey, it’s me, William. From the settlement? Wow, I can’t believe I’m running into you like this, this is so funny. Yeah, I guess we are pretty close to your village, huh? I was just out for a walk, getting some fresh air. Yeah, lots of bodies sort of moldering around the settlement these days so it’s nice to get away for a little while. Take a deep breath without getting any flies in your mouth or anything like that. Sometimes just getting away and getting some fresh air is what you need to get through the week.
Hey, you know what me and some of the guys from the settlement were just talking about the other day? This is why it’s so funny running into you. Remember around this time last year, you and some of your guys brought all that food over to the settlement and we had a feast? Why did we not do that again? That was so nice. Just a real fun sort of bonding night. And you know it’s one of those things, like, I kept meaning to ask you guys back over but something would always come up. One week it would be smallpox, the next we’d be all locked up in these debates over whether or not to resort to cannibalism. You know how it goes, the days just get away from you. But anyway, like I was saying, wouldn’t it be fun if you guys came over for another feast this year? Say, maybe tomorrow? And if it’s not too much trouble, maybe you guys could supply all the food?
Yeah, you did, you gave us all those seeds and everything last year so we could grow our own crops, and like I said then it was really so, so nice of you. You won’t believe what happened, actually. It’s really embarrassing. Well, some of us got spooked that the crops were cursed because they saw a black cat over near the field and thought it was a witch in animal form. Burned everything, burned it all down. You must have seen the smoke. So get this, the cat ended up belonging to this widow, Mary Goodman, so of course we drown her and the cat, as you do, and afterwards we’re standing around waiting for the her body to rise up, and nothing. She wasn’t a witch at all! That cat was just a cat! There were some red faces in the settlement that day, for sure. Mine was one of them, I can admit that. But you know, even though a lot of us starved to death this year, if we had to do it all again? I’d burn that field in a heartbeat. Better safe than sorry, right?
Oh, you know what you guys should bring over? How about some of that venison? I’ve never had better venison in my life than the venison you guys brought over last year. You don’t think of venison as being a succulent meat but something about the way you guys do it, maybe it’s the arrows or something? Succulent. Yeah, actually we haven’t done much hunting lately, unfortunately. We’ve really been trying to conserve our bullets. Well, we’ve needed them to fend off the members of the settlement who have in fact turned to cannibalism. Yeah, it’s really sad, actually, and you know my heart does go out to them, in a way. I’ll admit it… well, you remember my wife? Elizabeth? Oh, that’s so sweet of you. No, actually, she died giving birth to our son a couple months ago. Oh, thanks, thanks. It was a rough couple of days but you know, these things happen. Anyway she died, right, and I’m sitting there with her corpse, and yes, I will admit, for a second I did think it would be a real waste to just bury all that meat. Not proud of that, but it did occur to me. This was like a month after the incident with the crops. But did I go through with it? No, of course not. I mean, you don’t just eat your wife’s corpse because you’re starving, you know? What is this, Jamestown or something? Those guys, yeesh.
Anyway, so funny running into you. And really, come on over and bring us some food sometime soon. This is not one of those “Oh, we’ll have to do lunch, and then you don’t see the person for a year” things. This is a real, legitimate invitation. I mean, if we don’t get together soon we never will, because me and everyone else over there is going to die really, really soon if we don’t get something to eat. Which actually wouldn’t be too bad, I guess, since I’d get to see my wife and son again in Heaven. Oh, yeah, sorry. I should have said. My son died, like, right away without my wife around to keep him alive. Anyway. Hope you guys can make it. No need to RSVP. Just as soon as you can. 💣
TOM BATTEN has written for THE TUSK, THE NEW YORK OBSERVER, THE GUARDIAN and THE NEW YORKER. He lives in Virginia.
Copyright Tom Batten
Photo by George Allen