Danny’s Story

18. in which danny receives advice from dinner items


“Yes, a visitor,” said another voice. It sounded like the same male voice that had beckoned her into the shack. “And it’s not here for dinner, neither.”

The voice came from the right of the room, where the crone still crouched to the ground, digging through the cabinet. Above the old woman, hanging over the wide counter top, were the bodies of a skinned duck and a white rabbit. The rabbit was hanging from its foot next to a huge meat cleaver. It had one glassy, dead eye fixed on Danny.

“That’s all right,” said the snake. “I won’t be ready for a while yet, and Jack’s not skinned yet. Are you, Jack?”

“Gutted,” said a third voice. A deer’s head rose from the counter top. Its belly had been split open, and red intestines spilled out onto the grey stone of the counter.

“Quiet, you!” said the crone, suddenly standing. She bashed the deer on the head with an iron skillet. The venison went still and limp again, its tongue protruding. The old crone grunted. She snatched the meat cleaver off of its hook and began to chop three onions on the counter top.

“Um, excuse me,” said Danny, walking slowly closer. “Are you the Keeper of Names?”

“Rrrggh!” said the crone. “Keep yer own name!”

“If you’d like to get anything out of her, love, do throw her the poppet,” said the rabbit, who Danny now identified as the owner of the old male voice that had welcomed her in.

“That one, there,” added the snake.

Danny looked down. A few feet away, a hand-sized bean sack lied on the floor. It was made of two squares of coarse brown material that had been sewn together to make something like a small pillow. A crude smiley face had been stitched onto it. It grinned inanely up at the ceiling.

“That?” she asked.

“Yes, that,” replied the rabbit, crankily. Its body shook from the force of the crone’s chopping. She brought the meat cleaver down with another loud, rattling bang, and it cried, “Oy! Me back!”

Danny knelt to pick up the poppet. She played with it in her hands, feeling the beans shift back and forth.

“That’s a good love,” said the rabbit. “Do throw it to her, would you?”

“Excuse me,” Danny said to the crone again.

The old woman turned. “What!”

Danny threw the poppet at her. She wasn’t quite sure what she was doing, so she aimed — more or less on purpose — at the face.

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Christie “Iamba” Bailey