I know not at what time my wife began to use garlic
in her cooking, yet I soon became acutely aware of its presence in virtually
every dish. At first, I attempted to stomach the unholy food, forcing
myself to ingest the putrid flavoring. However, its lashing taste
grew stronger every time. I begged my wife to arrest her use of the
pungent clove, but to no avail—I pleaded, I moaned like a whimpering coward—and
yet she persisted. Oh, yes, she said that she would give up
the seasoning, yet I easily saw through her ruse. Did she think me
a fool? Did she think I could not perceive its flavor still infecting
every morsel? Did she not know the terrors with which I ate her repulsive,
pitiful excuse for food? Somehow she snuck it into the house, keeping
it hidden in some dark recess of the kitchen—did she think my nostrils
were covered, how its smell choked my lungs?
At length, I found it necessary to dine elsewhere, and at every possible occasion I did so, yet my wife managed by some crafty means to season their food as well! Could I not escape the horrid taste of the garlic? My aversion to the pestilent spice grew greater every day, until I could take it no more. “She must give up the garlic!” said I. “I must make her give it up!” Yet her treachery was too great—her craftiness too strong—for a simple show of force to obliterate; this case required care and patience. I began slowly, yet carefully, observing her kitchen habits, intent on catching her in the act of using the unspeakable thing. How craftily I hid—she had no knowledge of my daily surveillance! At last, after several days, I saw her reach into her shopping bag—I could barely contain my elation at having won!—and pull out a bulb! I dashed into the kitchen, screaming with rage, seized a butcher knife from the counter, and drove it into her neck. I paused with glee, knowing her deception had finally come to an end. Suddenly, I recoiled, aghast with horror, seeing blood spurt from the vicious gash on her throat! She released her grasp on the hideous bulb—which, by some witchlike means, she had disguised as an onion—and gasped her last breaths, saying:
“Oh, my sweet! What have I done to offend thee? Is it my dress? My demeanor? My conversation? Dearest, do tell me what it is I have done to attract this violence!
In a far-away land, across the sea
I cultivated garlic, just for thee:
Its pungent odor, oh so sweet!
Was all I wanted—with some meat.
Asked to eschew the heavn’ly root,
I tossed it down the garbage chute.
For seven months, my love, I’ve not
Let garlic near my cooking pot.
Alas! I lie quite close to death
Sans garlic fumes upon my breath.”
And with these sweet, heavenly words, my only love of twenty years, my sole reason for living, the one beacon of light in my dark, joyless world, breathed her last.
I immediately set upon the task of disposing with the body. Where to hide it? A brilliant thought then entered my mind—our cellar contained many unused nooks and crannies, many quite large enough for a body. As we happened to have an ample supply of bricks and mortar as well as professional masonry equipment, I could easily wall her up inside! I set at once to this affair, and in the course of several hours the wall was complete. No one would find her now!
Evidently some neighbors had heard my cries and summoned the police, as the constables arrived shortly after I completed the burial. I welcomed them with a smile—how could they possibly find her?—and quite calmly gave them an extensive tour of the house. I explained that my wife was out shopping—shopping for garlic, I added, with triumph. I remarked how well-constructed the house was, showing them every closet and bearing wall. I invited them to remove the bookcases, check for trap doors under the rugs, and examine the furnace chamber. Yet they seemed disinterested, merely remarking how charming the wallpaper was. I led them even to the cellar—lo, to the very wall that I had so recently constructed. With a flourish, I brandished a sledgehammer, showing how the wall could withstand the assault; I exchanged this for a jackhammer, which merely dented the brick monstrosity. Not satisfied, I continued to prove its durable construction; not until I used a 5,000 pound wrecking ball did any sign of weakness pervade the surface—finally a hole showed through! At that moment, a torrent of pungent garlic cloves rushed out of the tiny hole, blasting through the brick with its mighty force. I soon stood knee deep in the accursed garlic cloves, and yet they continued to pour from that abyss beyond the wall—their stench choked my lungs as I struggled to breathe. The room turned a sultry red as the air became thick with the odor of the hellish cloves—boils developed on my hands and face, and tears streamed from my eyes which I barely kept open. I shrieked in agony, gasping for breath, and yet the constables merely stood there, grinning like fools! “Are you idiots?” I wailed, “Have you no nostrils? Are you blind? Do you not see them? The cloves! The accursed cloves!” One merely scratched his head and muttered, “I don’t think that wall complies with the fire code.” Screeching with rage, I battled to keep on top of the sickening cloves, yet they seemed to forever multiply in number and stench. At last, I could bear it no longer—I threw myself against the wall, tearing at the newly laid brick with my bare hands, screaming, “There—there! She lies there! It is the garlic! The garlic, I say! Her garlic! She lies there—with her garlic!”
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©1996 By Luke Swartz. All Rights Reserved.