The Curse of Gary (Part 76)

He sifted through the shelves of cans and jars and packets, all of which had exceeded their use by dates by around half a century. A complete search of the pantry yielded only two things fit for consumption: salt and honey. Victor cast aside the salt and set the honey jar on the bench.

“It’s not much,” he said, “but I’ll take honey over Spam and Brussels sprouts any day of the week.”

The tin lid on the honey jar was stuck fast with age. Victor had opened plenty of jars in his time, but his experienced grip was no match for this one. After nine attempts at unscrewing the lid, Victor set the jar down, and looked through the kitchen drawers.

“I’m not quitting,” he said. “I’m just changing tactics.”

The drawers, now free of the curse, were full: the first with cutlery, the second with utensils, the third with tea towels, and the fourth with random useless things. Victor took a bone handle steak knife from the top drawer. Holding the knife like a chisel, point-down on the lid of the honey jar, he hammered the handle with the heel of his palm. On the second blow the knife broke through, making a cut about a centimetre long. He wiggled the knife free, rotated the jar, and repeated the process twice to make a small, triangular hole. He set the knife down and looked through the cupboards, which were also now full. Victor found a large, silver coloured serving bowl.

“This is the Brussels sprout bowl,” he said, examining it. It was light for its size, and had a flat base. He put the bowl on the bench and kept searching. “Aha!”

He took a cereal bowl from another cupboard and set it next to the honey jar. The bowl was good quality: heavy and deep, painted white with a simple blue line around the rim. He upended the honey jar over the bowl and watched the thick liquid reluctantly descend. With about a third of the honey poured into the bowl, Victor angled the jar and twirled it, stemming the slow tide, and then set it back on the bench. He took a spoon from the top drawer.

Bowl in one hand, spoon in the other, Victor walked out of the kitchen into the dining room, and sat down at the table. He set the bowl down in front of him, dipped the tip of the spoon into the honey, and raised it to his mouth. He sniffed. He ate. His tongue moved around his mouth and then he smacked his lips.

“Hmm. That’s really good.”

He dunked the spoon back into the bowl, then lifted it out full and drooling with sweet, sunny nectar. Leaning over the bowl, he put the spoon in his mouth then drew it out between his lips like a lollipop. As he swirled the honey over his tongue with a smile, he perused the  glass case on the  wall opposite him. Every item on the shelves was exquisite, and must have  been worth a fortune. The plates, upright on their stands, had never touched food, and the silverware was clearly reserved for the queen herself, if she should ever visit. There was a small silver item like a heater-shaped shield, which bore a crest with a crown on it. The item next to it was similar, but Victor had trouble distinguishing it as it was in line with the reflection from one of the candles. Victor looked at his own reflection in the glass. He looked small, seated alone at the enormous table. He sat up straight and fixed his jacket collar.

“Well,” he smiled, “at least I’m better dressed than Winnie the Pooh when he was stuck in a house, eating honey.”

He leaned over the bowl again and shoved another sticky spoonful in his mouth. Churning the sweet liquid between his cheeks, he looked up again at the glass case. He leaned forward and squinted, while his jaw worked in slow circles. He suddenly froze; colour drained from his cheeks, and his jaw stopped chewing. He swallowed, and looked closer at the glass. In the reflection there was a narrow block of light that had not been there before. It was on the right of Victor, and coming from behind him: the door to the fireplace room was open. In the reflection of the open doorway stood a pale child with blank eyes.

“Oh sh**!” Victor yelled, spinning and pushing back in his chair.



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