Monday, December 25, 2006

Her Escape Plan

I was not impressed when I looked into her eyes for the first time. In fact, I dismissed her as simple-minded. She pretended that she was not interested in what I was doing. In the meantime, however, she was carefully watching my every move. In her dark eyes, there was a reflection of my hands opening and closing the hatch. Behind those eyes, there were well-oiled wheels craftily turning out an escape plan. I left the room after I thought she had fallen asleep. Then in the dark, when no one was watching her, her beady little eyes opened with a twinkle of mischief. She then climbed up to the hatch, pushing and pulling, and jerking on it as hard as she could; but her arms were not strong enough. Still, she struggled, “Why isn’t this thing opening?” she thought, desperately, “This is how he did it!” Outside I heard a faint commotion, her cage rattling, and I went to investigate. Light rushed into the room as I opened the door, catching her with a surprised expression on her face, and in the middle of one of her jerks. She grinned, in her way, carefully climbed down from the hatch, and then went back to bed, without uttering a sound. I had no idea that Black Bear Hamsters were so clever.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dark Ketchup

Imagine my disappointment, looking down at a lumpy fried graveyard of potatoes and bloated raisins. With my own hands, I had ruined my work, and tossing it out was all I had left to do. Hot meals were not always easy to come by, but this day, I had found three raw potatoes at the bottom of the refrigerator. I decided to make French fries.

Not to rush, I scanned the kitchen for everything I would need. The cooking oil was on the counter, next to the salt and pepper. The iron skillet was in the sink, and an unopened bottle of ketchup was on the top shelf. I smiled, ready for phase two.

Next, I carefully peeled each potato, slicing them with precision, and put the pieces in a large white plate. Then I placed the plate on the stove while I preheated the cooking oil in the large black skillet. Hunger began to fade with anticipation.

Once the oil was hot enough, I poured the slivers of potatoes into the skillet, and washed the plate to the sound of running water and sizzling fries. Not to waste time, I quickly dried off the plate and climbed to retrieve the bottle of ketchup from the top shelf.

I watched the fries come to a golden brown, and then transfer them to the waiting plate. I had carefully laid out my plan; that I would enjoy my meal in front of the TV, but I should have paid closer attention to my instincts.

Something whispered that the ketchup was too dark, but I did not listen. I simply broke the lid, turned the bottle upside down above my fries, and began smacking its bottom. On the third smack, brownish-red ketchup and bloated raisins poured out over my fries.

On closer examination, my heart sank with the knowledge that the raisins were the bloated corpses of once imprisoned cockroaches.