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Dinner with Vivianna

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This is my entry into Derpyspaghetti's Dark Humor contest. My theme was Cannibalism.


Fingersand

Looks tempting!

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster… oh wait, that’s Goodfellas, let’s try this again. As far back as I can remember, I always wanted a good-looking girlfriend and to be sort of popular. Yeah, that sounds more like it. How’s everyone doing? My name is Cameron Dunn, and this is my story. Who am I speaking to? Who even knows, as my pursuit for love currently has me locked up in a cage. Yep, Cameron is caged, or so it seems. Who threw me in here, and why am I currently pacing the walls… heck, how am I even writing this? Well, some answers will be revealed, I promise.

A bit about me to start off, I guess. I was lonely. Hell, I was so lonely that the closest thing I ever had to a girlfriend came from my affinity to Julia Walker; she was the zombie girl from Return of the Living Dead 3, in case you didn’t know. She was played by Melinda Clarke, and let me tell you, she made me fall in love in an hour and a half. That should sum me up a bit. I was the guy that fell in love with movie characters and would then doze off as I fantasized about fictional lives together with people that didn’t even exist. Oh Julie, I would have loved you, zombie or not. My best friend is a guy named Ike Ruddock. He was a lot like me, in the lonely department. We’d sit up for hours on the phone chatting about the lives that we wished we had. We’re both 16 you see; guess I should have mentioned that earlier. Our long nightly ramblings would generally consist of such gems as, ‘I wish we had girlfriends,’ or, ‘This is how life would be if we had girlfriends.’ Okay, not trying to sound too much like a copy of Kenny Leonard here. Trust me, we had our own issues, and not all of them were based around our crippling lack of physical contact from the opposite sex.

Neither Ike nor I were really miserable folks all the time either. We had our hobbies. Now, those hobbies consisted mainly of playing Final Fantasy 3 all night and then talking about it. We also liked renting cheap horror movies and making fun of them, and of course there were our semi-regular nights of egging cars and pouring sticky drinks over payphones. Ike had his driver’s license, so we’d slip out sometimes and just go around doing dumb stuff like that. A good day out was a trip to the mall, waste a dozen quarters or so at the arcade and then get kicked out of Toys R Us for making the talking Stone Cold Steve Austin doll say vulgar things. (Shake them titties just sounds so strange coming from a plastic Steve Austin head.) However, there was a hole there in our lives, and that hole was a girlfriend.

FF3

The perfect night!

I think we got shot down a lot because we went after the wrong types though. For our first couple years of high school, we went after the cookie cutter “hot girl” type. This usually was the preppy, popular chick that would look at us and laugh. It wasn’t until we watched a little flick called The Craft that I finally realized that the problem was we were chasing after the wrong types. Remember how I mentioned falling in love with the zombie girl from Return of the Living Dead 3? Well, let’s just say that when I saw Fairuza Balk’s character in The Craft, my heart spun on its head. I knew that was the key. I needed to just find some socially awkward girl who could understand and appreciate the finer nuances that I brought to the relationship table. If that girl could be as attractive as Balk’s character that would just be a double win for me. Who knows, maybe even Ike could find one too and we could go on weird double dates down to the local cemetery. We could try to summon demons and then do weird stuff on graves. See folks, I was thinking clearly, and the motivation to find my odd girlfriend grew from there.

Fairuza

And the perfect girl!

So, forgive me here, I’m working with a 5000 word limit, which sounds like a lot, but in actuality isn’t, so, I’ll have to forgo the massive purple prose that you’re obviously looking forward to, sorry. Here’s the deal, Ike and I lived in New Orleans, (of course we did, I think it’s a rule or something that we have to) and our high school, Warren Easton, was full of potential love interests. However, my idea that just finding a weird girl that would look past our obvious social shortcomings was quickly failing. Turns out that even the artsy, gothy types still had friends and interests that kept a gap between our virginity and romantic bliss. I wasn’t into their music or fashion, (I actually thought Marilyn Manson was called Merlyn Manson for about 6 months and made that mistake a couple of times when trying to bond over music) and my clothes ranged from K-Mart to the bargain bin when J.C. Penney had a sale. Ike wasn’t quite as on board with the ‘get a strange girl’ plan, as I think he was still holding out hope that Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All was a real person that would surely crawl out of his television any day. So it was just I, failing in glorious fashion.

That is, until she transferred to our school.

Vivianna Alexander was her name. She showed up one day in class out of nowhere. She was perfect! Lovely pale skin, deep dark hair, secretive eyes, she was the Fairuza Balk to my… Well, there wasn’t a male lead in that movie, so she was the Balk to my… me. She was new to the school so she had no friends for me to compete with. Does all of this make me sound creepy? C’mon, I’m 16, how developed do you expect me to be? I saw this as a sign. So, in true Cameron fashion, I avoided her and instead tried to dig up some information. There wasn’t much to dig, though. Ike knew less about her than I did. All I was able to get from asking around to the few people that would speak to me was that she’d come here from another town due to family issues. I had no idea what those issues were. That would involve speaking to her, but I figured that it’d bode well for me to get to know her. After all, I had a few issues at home too. My mother was raising me alone, and she was a handful anyway. Big old half Sicilian woman, loved to eat and talk at volumes far beyond those of normal social standards. Still though, the challenge was in talking to her, which is not something I excelled at well. However, fate seemed to be on my side throughout, as a few events happened that led me right into her home.

She mutilated a bird. That’s what started it. See, everyone was saying how weird she was. She would sit in silence, eat lunch alone, and walk with her head down. On paper, it would seem that her self-esteem was just low enough to make her a perfect candidate to date me. People left her alone for the most part. Some of the girls called her Lydia, like from Beetlejuice I guess, while a few others asked her once or twice if she worshiped Satan. That was about the extent of it though. She wasn’t really focused on until the bird incident. No one knows why she did it either, and with my luck, I missed it when it happened. Kids were saying though that she was seen at lunch slicing open a bird on one of the outdoor stone tables near the cafeteria. See, Warren Easton was located about a half mile from downtown New Orleans, so we got a lot of pigeons. Most of the kids would toss them bread during lunch, so these birds knew where to come everyday for a good meal. According to the rumor mill, Vivianna had managed to catch one. Kids were watching as she gently picked the bird up, laid it down on the table before her, and proceeded to use a fork (yes, a fork) to slice it open down the stomach. People watched on in shock and awe as she then dipped her finger into its open guts and took a taste of its blood.

Now, at first I thought this was all bogus. They already were calling her a devil worshipper, so the idea of her killing a bird in the name of her dark lord just seemed too convenient. I was ready to rule it out, but then Ike called me that night and told me that he saw it happen. I would have laughed at anyone else, but Ike didn’t lie. He called and told me something like,

“Dude, that freaky girl you like killed a bird at lunch today and drank its blood.”

We talked about that for a long time, and he swore on all the characters of Final Fantasy and beyond that it happened, just like that. The next day she wasn’t at school, as she’d likely been suspended, but all the kids were talking now. Those hard to find rumors were fleshing themselves out, as suddenly everyone was a subject matter expert on Vivianna.

“She had to transfer from her old school because the police found out what her family really does,” said one girl to me as I sat down in class.

“Her family was kidnapping local homeless people,” said another.

“They were caught running a Satanic Cult and had to move out of their last neighborhood,” confirmed a third.

By the end of that day I heard that she was a Satanist, a serial killer and finally even a cannibal. Someone even claimed that her father ran a restaurant that was secretly serving human to wealthy weirdos, and the cops had caught on. I didn’t really believe much of it, as most of those claims should have wound her family up in jail, not just moving to another school. However, the bird incident seemed to have really happened, as not just Ike but just about everyone else that shared a lunch period with her swore to it. There was even a little reddish-brown stain on the table where she’d been sitting. Bird blood perhaps?

Now, if you think these rumors would have deterred me away from her, you’d don’t know old Cameron Dunn. She really was turning out to be like Fairuza from The Craft. We could be the weird couple of Warren Easton. The bizarre, bird-slicing Vivianna and her faithful boyfriend, the slightly chubby yet otherwise lovable Cam; it was a match made in Heaven… or somewhere at least.

She came back to school a few days later, and let me tell you all, the kids were not forgiving. I didn’t know we had so many pigeon lovers there. Girls snubbed or ridiculed her, boys made the sign of the cross when she walked by, and poor little Vivianna, she walked through it all. I was actually trying to think of just the right way to approach the situation. I mean, I am pretty shy, even when it comes to talking to an animal mutilator, but around 2pm that Friday, the gods smiled upon me… sort of.

I’d come around the corner and found her surrounded by two guys and a girl. They were shouting horrible things, calling her a witch, a bitch and… well, nothing else really rhymes that works, so you get the idea. The girl was sort of directing the two guys. Maybe they didn’t feel too good about bullying a lone girl, but their friend was providing the cheerleading, and they were following the cadence. This was my chance. Vivianna was up against the wall, trying to walk past, but the guys kept blocking her.

“You going to cast a spell on us, bitch? You going to turn us into birds?” the girl was saying. I still don’t know why you’d provoke someone by daring them to cast a spell on you, but that seemed to be their game. So, feeling like Locke from Final Fantasy 3 when he bravely stepped in to protect Terra, I puffed up my chest, stepped in between them and made my stand.

I was promptly beaten up.

When I came around, I was sitting up against the wall while Vivianna was dabbing blood off of my cheek with her thumb. And you know what, I could have sworn I saw her lick her thumb at least once. I didn’t care though; in my mind I’d just made the first move in Operation Fairuza.

“God, dude, why’d you do that?” she’d asked.

“Didn’t like seeing you get picked on. Three on one, two of them being guys, I had to say something,” I replied.

“Yeah, but I’m used to it. It’s like this at most schools. I stick out, it happens.”

She finished her strange ritual of cleaning me up and helped me to my feet. We spent a little time that day talking after school. She told me that she was new to New Orleans; she hinted that there were some issues at her last school, but didn’t go into detail. I wanted to push further, but didn’t want to scare her off either. We sat out front until her parents pulled up to get her. I wanted to ask for her phone number, or at least give her mine, but it seemed as though the chance was slipping. I still could have, but that damn shyness kept holding me back. She finally gave me a hug and thanked me once more. She told me we’d talk more on Monday, and briskly climbed into her parent’s car.

The parents, WOW! Big black sedan, I could see her father only briefly through the open window. He was a tall looking man, black beard, black turtleneck; he looked like the father of a bird-killing cannibal. They drove off and I sat there wishing I’d have gotten her number. However, luck was apparently on my side.

That night, it was around 8pm; I was about to call Ike up for our nightly chat about life, love and all things Square Soft, when the phone rang. My mom picked it up from the kitchen and I could hear almost every word. As I said before, she spoke as though the world was all half deaf and she was the only hope of an audible connection. She came into my room, smiling ear to ear, and informed me that I had a phone call.

It was Vivianna. We talked for a little while. Mostly mundane stuff, more thanks for stepping in at school followed by what I could only call a blessing from Heaven above, an invitation to her home the following night!

My mom filled me in on the rest. Turns out Vivianna told her parents all about my heroic intervention. Her folks were so impressed that they looked us up in the phone book and called to talk to my mother. They thanked her for the remarkable bravery of her son and extended an invite for me to come by the following night and eat with them in their home. When I was put on the phone with Vivianna, she was really opening up. Her voice sounded almost giddy, not the drab tone maintained at school. She seemed legitimately thrilled at the idea of me coming over. I know I was!

The next night I was all set for the “date.” My mom was thrilled about it too. She was always going on about how I needed to find a nice girl and be a normal teenager. Of course she insisted that I bring food. I told her that this was a dinner and food would already be there, but as I mentioned once before, my mom revolved all affection around the idea of a meal. She put something together in a Tupperware container and insisted that I offer it. I didn’t think it was polite to do so, but I brought it with me at mom’s insistence. She dropped me off at their home, told me to call her when it was over and left me standing there on the sidewalk in front of the Alexander home.

Okay, time to set some mood here; I know I gotta get the reader (or listener if Creeparoni gets ahold of this) into the right mindset. I was nervous now. Yes, part of it was that I was going into the home of a girl that I really liked and had to not make an ass out of myself. Another part of me though was a little bit nervous about all the crap I’d heard about her family. Satan worship, cannibalism and kidnappings had been the most common of rumors. Could any of that be true? These were realizations that I’d never come close to meeting up with in real life. How would I actually respond to it? Well, no sense in just standing out on the pavement wondering, it was time to go in and find out what the real deal was all about.

Her father answered the door, and just as I recalled from seeing him briefly in his car, he was an odd one. Tall as all hell, the guy had to be pushing over 6 feet, with a neatly cropped beard that was as black as night, and some really intense eyes.

“You must be Cameron!” he said in a voice that was a bit too jolly for his appearance. “C’mon in, we’ve been waiting for you!”

“Thank you for having me over,” I replied with a bit of nerves.

He took the Tupperware container from me and sat it down on their dining room table. His wife came out to join him. Now, she was almost like a stereotype of the creepy parent too. This was too much. She was attractive for a woman her age. She had long blonde hair that was almost platinum, deep brown eyes and a wide smile that seemed to almost have too many teeth for any human jaw.

“Cameron, so nice to meet you! I’m Renee, Viv’s mom, and you’ve already met my husband, Casper. We heard all about what you did at school, standing up for Viv the way you did. You are a remarkable young man. We’re so honored to have you with us tonight.”

Casper… the dad’s name was Casper… I sure hope he’s friendly.

“Yes, Cameron, stay as long as you’d like… Perhaps even longer!” Casper announced, followed by a deep laugh. My skin broke out in goose bumps for just a moment.

“Casper, that joke has never been funny, stop it!” Renee scolded, and the big man blushed a bit.

I was led through to the living room, where I assumed I would get grilled a bit by the parents, and that’s when I saw it all. They had two lamps, both appearing to be made out of human remains. That’s right, I’m skipping over the buildup and going right into their lamps. It was too much to ignore. Bones created the lamp base, and in place of a traditional shade was a thin filmy substance that I thought for sure was human flesh. It was stapled together at the seams.

“Do you like the lamps?” Renee asked me.

“Well, I…” I stuttered.

“I hope he likes them, they cost me a fortune,” Casper replied.

“Well, dear, when you insist on buying props from popular movies, you have to be prepared to spend a little,” his wife replied.

“Props?” I asked, trying not to sound too shaky in the voice.

“Yep, Texas Chainsaw Massacre! Renee and I actually saw that movie on our first date, and it’s always been special to us. They filmed that movie out near Austin, TX- that’s where we just moved from. Turns out they were selling off some of the old props, and when I saw those lamps, I knew I had to get them for our home,” Casper explained.

Okay, I could breathe again.

“I feel so bad for what happened at school with Viv and that damned bird. It’s all Casper’s fault, you know,” Renee stated.

I was about to ask for more information, what really happened, when suddenly I heard the stairs creaking from overhead, and looked up to see Vivianna herself coming down. She looked stunning. If there was ever a time in real life for that Sixpence None the Richer song "Kiss Me" to play, this was it. She was wearing a long black dress, had her hair up and was almost gliding down the stairs.

“Cameron, so glad you’re here!” she announced, sounding very honest in her joy. My heart did a little flip.

Renee led us all to the table. Vivianna sat next to me. If it were possible to go to Heaven, die there, and go to like, Super Heaven, this was it.

“Let’s eat!” Casper stated with excitement, maybe a bit too much, and I saw how wide and hungry his eyes became.

A domed plate was put in front of me. “Guests always go first,” Renee stated and gestured for me to remove the dome.

I pulled up the dome and almost jumped from the table. On the plate in front of me was a dead bird, a pigeon.

“The culprit himself,” Casper joked.

“What… what is this?” I asked.

“That’s the reason why our daughter is getting bullied,” Renee answered. “Casper and his antics, I swear if we have to move again…”

Vivianna reached over and grabbed it. I watched in stunned silence as she jabbed her fork down into the dead animal’s stomach, producing a red liquid. Just as I’d heard she’d done at school, she dipped her finger into the pool of slime and took a lick.

“We thought it’d be funny if she brought it to school to show it off,” Casper said. “Turns out not so much.”

Renee sighed, “Another of my husband’s stupid props. This one we named Ozzie. It was a prop from some zombie movie. You fill the rubber bird with strawberry jelly and bite into it for effect. I guess we figured Viv could show it off, impress some friends or something. Who would’ve believed those kids would actually think it was real?”

“You mean, it was a fake bird?” I asked, failing to hide the slight nervous undertone of my voice.

“Of course. What, did you think I actually killed a pigeon?” Vivianna asked, and I had to lie to avoid sounding like just another prick from the school.

“Well, of course I never believed it even happened, but, now that you’ve shown me what it really is… jeez, hard to believe people were so freaked out, right?”

Viv smiled at that. I guess I covered for myself well enough.

“My parents are both artists, Cameron, and we actually owned a studio out in Austin. Things were going well enough until my dad got the idea to do a damned over-the-top exhibit on the streets.”

“Hey, that exhibit was brilliant. I created a real life horror show right there on 7th street in downtown Austin. I had a beheading, a disemboweling, all free for the public to view. It was even around Halloween. I had no idea that the police would get called out because some folks actually thought I was murdering someone on the sidewalk,” Casper explained.

“So, that’s why you guys had to move?” I asked.

“Yeah, the publicity didn’t go over well for my dad’s studio. What was meant to be a really deep art show turned out to just freak a lot of people out. Guess the 'Keep Austin Weird' motto isn’t as true as they claim.”

“We always heard that New Orleans was really tolerant of the strange and eccentric, so we sold the studio and decided to try and set up shop down here. Then Casper sends our daughter to school with a prop bird filled with jelly and it looks like we’re on the fast track to be pariahs again,” Renee added.

“Okay, enough about that, let’s eat!” Vivianna suddenly exclaimed.

“I hope you like meat!” Casper announced, and gave me a strange wink.

“Oh, dad, are we having dried James tonight?” Viv asked her father.

“Of course, dear!”

James?

A plate was produced with what appeared to be sliced up tubes of red meat. “Now Cameron, James here was a bit of a jerk, but he certainly will snap right into your mouth!” Renee announced smiling.

The family tore into the tubes of meat. I sat there stunned for a moment when suddenly the tension was broken.

“I love these things!” Viv informed me. “I used to think Slim Jims were gross, but when my dad started calling them James, I don’t know, it was just too funny not to enjoy.”

Slim Jim’s… jerky… of course. Jim is short for James; just another damned dad joke from Casper the Freaky Ghost. I ate one and was indeed informed by my mouth that this was store bought beef jerky.

“Okay, Cameron, I hope you’re ready for the main course!” Casper announced. “I hope you like human!”

Okay, there it was, no way that I misheard or misunderstood that. The man just said human, as in, people.

“Yeah, we know not everyone is a big fan of human. We started eating it back in Austin though, and Viv can’t get enough of it,” Renee chimed in. I could see that both she and her husband had dried meat stuck to their cheeks. Their teeth now looked really sharp as they smiled.

“I’ll get it!” Vivianna said with excitement. I sat there in silence.

She returned from the kitchen a moment later with a large bowl of what looked like white, congealed foam. The bowl was placed in the center of the table. Her parents joined in with gathering more plates, knifes and such, as rice and peas were spooned out to form a bed of food on each plate.

“Time for the human!” Renee announced, and slopped a large portion of the thick substance on to each plate.

“Cameron, we understand if this isn’t what you’re used to. Not everyone eats this, we know. Feel free to let us know if you don’t like it,” Vivianna told me with a smile.

Struggling for words, I began to sputter out something that was barely speech when Renee spoke again.

“Hummus isn’t for everyone. We were pretty much grown before we could stomach Greek food.”

“Hummus?” I asked.

“Oh yeah, I still remember the first time we had it. Viv was just a little kid. We went to this Greek place and she looked at the menu and started to cry. She kept saying, ‘Dad, I am not going to eat human!’ over and over again. See, she saw hummus and thought it said human, she was really convinced that it was…” But Casper could no longer speak through his laughter. Renee slapped his arm gently.

“Cas, you’re going to embarrass her again! First with the stupid bird, now telling baby stories, and you know she likes Cameron… Oops! Sorry, Viv.”

“Oh, mom…” Vivianna said, but looked at me with a smile. “Secret's out now, I guess.”

We ate, I laughed and relaxed a bit.

“We like you too, Cameron. You really stood up for our daughter, and that means a lot. We wish people had stood up for us back in Austin, but it’s good to know that bold people still exist.”

“In other words, Viv, we approve,” Renee stated, causing her daughter to smile all the more.

“Shall we eat dessert?” Casper asked.

“Sounds good. Tonight we’re having Ben and Jerry!” Renee replied.

Yeah, of course, ice cream, I thought to myself. All night they’ve been messing with me, from lamp shades to beef jerky to Viv’s strange way of saying hummus. I guess they wanted to get one more jab at me before dinner was over.

“You guys stay seated, I’ll go and get it. Fridge is right in there, I guess?” I asked, pointing at the kitchen.

The family nodded. Yeah, Ben and Jerry, maybe that was the kids that were picking on her at school. In fact, come to think of it, Benjamin and Gerald, wasn’t that… No, no more games.

I walked into the kitchen to get the ice cream when suddenly there was a shrill scream from the dining room. This scream was followed by the loud voice of Casper.

“Viv, get upstairs, Renee, call the police!”

Oh crap, I forgot all about the Tupperware. Mom must have packed one of her specialties. Damn it, mom!

So, Casper came in and held me down. The cops came and put me in this cage that I now write from. I would call my mom to come and help me out, but I have a feeling she’s probably locked up in a similar cell as my own.

As weird as Viv’s family was, I’m really disappointed that they reacted the way they did to the dish I brought.

Maybe it’s mom’s fault for leaving the wedding ring on one of them, but still, you’d swear Viv’s family had never heard of finger sandwiches.

Narrations




Written by K. Banning Kellum
Content is available under CC BY-NC
Published February 9th, 2017

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