A Fine Fricassee

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A Fine Fricassee

Really, I thought the vomiting was a little excessive. It was a shock, but there was no need to react that strongly. And they called me eccentric?

**********

They were always whispering about “that Eliza Rhodie” doing “something bizarre” again. I moved to the small town of Hamilton a little over a year ago, but I never ceased to be a topic of gossip. I admit that I was a little odd for the orderly neighborhood. My mismatched clothes looked out-of-place next to the carefully coordinated Garanimal-like outfits the other residents had. I was perfectly content stomping around in long tie-dye dresses and boots in the supermarket, startling the other minivan moms. I liked to think of my lawn as a wild thing, but it certainly looked unkempt next to the even carpets of green covering the yards around it. I was trying, always showing up to town meetings and such, but it was clear I didn’t quite fit in. I certainly knew how the small community felt about me, and as much as I enjoyed being eccentric, I wanted to be recognized as a member of the community rather than just a rumor.
The only way I could figure how to do that was to make nice to the disapproving gossipers. I was surprised to have an opportunity to do that me so soon.
I drove home from one of the town meetings, grumbling under my breath about the sideways glances directed at me. So what if it was pouring rain outside and I had taken up a temporary boycott against umbrellas? (They frightened the feral cats living underneath my porch.) If I happened to dripped on their precious carpets, I thought it was a bit of an overreaction to have the chairmen jump up from their seats and spread tarps underneath me.
The rain pelted heavily on my windshield now, and I squinted through the glassy sheets of water. My headlights suddenly bobbed in the space in front of me as I drove over a strange, irregular bump in the road. I looked behind me to make sure no other cars were coming, and got out of my car to inspect the damage. I was not expecting was to see a poor rabbit thrashing behind the back tire.

I always had a respect for living things. Some people called it a by-product of my current free-spirited ways, but I had felt that way since I was a small child. When all the boys on the playground would be torturing ants with magnifying glasses, I would be the one who would snatch them from their fiery dooms in hopes of salvation. It was this natural instinct in me that compelled me to save this poor animal. Just as quickly as I had flattened the rabbit, an idea struck me, a way to respect the animal and to fix my social crisis! I grabbed a plastic bag from the trunk of the car and quickly scooped up the now-deceased animal. Tying the top tight, I started the car, mentally searching my cupboards to see if I had the necessary ingredients to pull this off. By tonight, I was hoping to be a socially happy Hamiltonian.

**********

I flew through the cupboards, collecting all the necessary ingredients to make my famous rabbit fricassee. Sure, my main course had been lying on the road for a minute or two, but a little asphalt never hurt anyone! I decided that I would also make a batch of Tomato Surprise Soup to fit with tonight’s slightly macabre theme. I would invite over all of the ladies in the town and treat them to my special dinner. I could see it now: the snooty women oohing and aahing over my delicious meal. I shook these pleasant visions out of my head, for I had much more work to do to pull this off. As my dishes were cooking, I pulled out my phone and with rabbit-like speed called all the women in town, inviting them to dinner at my house. I suspected that many of the women were not initially inclined to spend time at Eccentric Eliza’s (and yes, that was what they called me). However, those busybodies wouldn’t want to miss a chance for new gossip, and this evening could certainly entertain them for a while. They all accepted, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I set about making last-minute preparations, hopping with excitement for a chance to finally make friends with the townies.

**********

At exactly 6:30, the neighborhood ladies filed into my house and I greeted them with a toothy smile. My house seemed very comfortable to me, but I could sense it gave off a creepy vibe to the unsuspecting women. Various masks and other strange artifacts adorned the walls from my travels to exotic locales. The walls were painted in odd colors, sometimes multiple colors splashed on a wall. I had a strict belief that all paint colors were created equal, and bold was just as beautiful as bland. For this reason, any color you could imagine could be found on my house’s walls, except for white.
I shuttled the dumbstruck women into the dining room. They took their seats cautiously, as if the seats themselves were capable of attacking them. Considering what they had seen of the house so far, it was a reasonable fear.
“Dinner will be out in a moment!” I trilled animatedly. Of course, no sooner than I left the room, I heard their whispers. I suppose they thought that I was eccentric and deaf too.
They all quieted as I brought in a huge tureen filled with soup.
“Bon appétit!” The tureen was shaped like a human head, a gift from an Afrikani priest. The women were probably speculating why it was a red soup of all things, and how one would possibly go about acquiring a head-shaped tureen. I began to serve the soup.
“Well, go on! Eat! It’ll get cold if it’s left there.”
They were unable to refuse my pleading face, and unable to see how they could escape from the house without making a scene. I let out a huge anticipatory breath, and helped myself to soup as well.
The women took tentative sips, and seemed surprised that the soup was delicious. And to think they had doubted my culinary skills! The mood was actually thawing when suddenly white orbs bobbed up from the bottom of the soup, rotating ominously. Two ladies jumped up from the table, taking their silverware with them, while I laughed uproariously.
“They’re mozzarella balls! Isn’t it fun?!”
They looked at each other sheepishly, but then sat down and continued to enjoy the soup. Just because they had seen me walk backwards for a whole day last month didn’t mean I was Lucrezia Borgia.
I sniffed the air, possibly a little longer than necessary. Everyone stopped eating and stared at me.
“Main course is done,” I said and stood abruptly. I couldn’t face a fricassee on fire tonight. As I rushed into the kitchen, the ladies sniffed the air as well, and I could tell that they liked what they smelled. I brought out the dish and placed it on the table with a flourish, expecting my oohs and aahs. Hearing none, I silently passed out portions on the plates, hoping that once they tasted it, they would begin their appreciative chorus.
One of the ladies joked, “This won’t have anything pop out of it, will it?” The others looked at her like she was a traitor, but I cracked a thankful smile.
“No, it won’t. But you won’t ever find out how delicious it is if you don’t try it! Eat up!”
They were a little taken aback at my insistence, but they tried a bite anyway, and then eagerly dug in. It wasn’t quite like anything they had ever tasted before.
One of the more adventurous women, Ms. Boyle, asked me, “What is this? I must have your recipe, it’s delicious!”
The others murmured their assent as they dug in.
“Well, it’s rabbit fricassee, made with very fresh rabbit. I just ran over it a few hours ago but I couldn’t bear to leave it in the street, you know. So I brought it home and made it into this lovely dinner for all of you.”
There was a stunned silence as I folded my hands and looked at them, smiling. Everyone eating has stopped chewing mid-bite, their mouths slacked open in disgust. It might have been extremely comical, if it weren’t so horrifying.
Ms. Wells was the first to break from the shock. She stood and pointed a shaking finger at me.
“You… you… fed us road kill?”
I was confused. It was perfectly good rabbit meat! “You can’t even see the tire tracks unless you turn it over!”
That was the last straw. Holding their hands to their mouths, the women rushed out of the house, screaming as they went. I distinctly saw one woman hurling over my Venus Fly Traps.
“WAIT! Come back!” I yelled. “That deer crossing sign on Elm Street could mean dinner on Friday!”





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