After picking out an armful of apples, two steaks, a bag of pistachios, a tub of butter, a bag of bagels, and a sack of potatoes, she arrived at the only open register.

“Afternoon ma’am,” the older man at the register said. She hated when men called her that. It made her feel old.

“Hello,” she replied, a slight curl of the lips indicating a smile.

“How are you doing today?”

“As I always do.

“Which is?”

“Fantastic,” she replied, slowing the word in her mouth, making it three distinct syllables. She glanced at the blonde bag boy at the end of the word to catch a look.

“Will that be all for you today?”

“It will.”

“Your total will be twenty-two dollars and eighty-three cents.”

She handed the fifty-something-year-old a one-hundred-dollar bill. He held it to the light that showered the room for longer than she thought necessary. He put it in the register and handed her the change.

“Here you are, Miss,” the bag boy said, filling two brown paper bags with her purchases.

“Thank you. Do you think you could carry the potatoes to my car? It was work just getting them this far,she lied. Ms. Monroe did Pilates every evening. Men always underestimated her strength.

Of course.”

He picked up both bags and walked through the automatic sliding doors. She led the way to a car that wasn’t hers and turned.

“You can set them down here. I have some trunk rearranging to do.

He set the bags down.

“Have a good day.”

“Thank you and you too.”

He turned to walk back.

“Excuse me?”

“Yes, Miss?”

“Would you be interested in having dinner with me tonight? I’ll be making it myself.” She nodded down to the bags on the asphalt parking lot.

The blonde bag boy looked enticing. His medium but masculine build looked powerful in his rolled sleeves and white apron. He briefly considered her question before revealing a smile and said, “Yes, I could do that.”

Ms. Monroe took a pen out of her pocket and grabbed his hand. After gently pulling it towards her, she wrote down her address. He watched her write down a street address that was only a few blocks away.

“Eight?” he asked.



The day usually starts around 7 A.M. for Ms. Monroe. A woman of a certain distinguished age no doubt, but the kind of woman that young men find attractive for some instinctual reason, oedipal or not. She would never act on such a carnal impulse but always smiles after she catches a glance that lasts two seconds too long to be coincidental. She’s still got it. Ms. Monroe unwraps herself from the blankets at 7:05 to let out the usual sigh of most creatures of the night. Sitting upright, she turns and hangs her feet above the ground when she briefly contemplates what another day on this Earth entails. She accepts its terms and stands up letting the red silk kimono straighten out over her once taut figure. The gold and white tiger embossed on the fabric comes to life with each step towards the lavatory. She never calls them bathrooms. Moments later, she exits, still more radiant into the start of her day. Charcoal lashes, cherry lips, and a porcelain face all look natural, a quality she admires, but doesn’t flaunt. She’s adamant that humility is her greatest asset.           

In the walk-in closet adorned with rainforest woods, the silk slides down her body with a hunch of the shoulders. She is practiced. A loose-fitting V-necked t-shirt now drapes her frame and a pair of worn jeans grip her still strong thighs. With the exception of her face, she’s exceptionally unexceptional. Today is a day of camouflage, a day barely begun.

Ms. Monroe never cared for granite or marble countertops; her taste has always been considered eclectic. The polished, black sandstone imported from Morocco contained small sliver-like fossils from over four-hundred-million-years prior. At the counter, she sits drinking a freshly blended assortment of fruits and vegetables in a secret recipe she refers to as her “elixir.” With the last slithering trail of ground produce successfully at the back of her throat, she stands up, walks to the sink, and rinses the glass.

A pair of old black Converse shoes complete the transformation. She plays Sinatra on an antique record player and starts her morning crossword on the couch. She’s stretched over a Baroque sofa acquired thirteen years ago at auction, tediously writing letters. She appears comfortable in what most what describe as an uncomfortable room. Audible etching on recycled paper fills the overwhelming silence, screamed by the six frozen animals in her company: a Colorado big horned sheep, a red panda, two black bears in fighting poses, a bust of a caribou hanging above a doorway, and a bald eagle all stalk the once empty spaces of her living room. Trophies of her late husband, they remain the only things she owns of his. The cars, properties, and possessions were all sold with the exception of these six, his fixed six.

Mr. Monroe was unusually interesting for an upper-class white male. A child of two loving, well-off parents, he graduated from Ivy League schools with his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD, all in the subject of philosophy. Mr. Monroe was in no way a philosopher in the Nietzschean sense of the word. He was not captivated alone in an ivory tower wrestling with the greatest minds ever having walked the Earth. No. He aspired to be a philosopher in the Platonic sense; a ‘Philosopher King.’ He emphasized the latter part of the term exponentially. A businessman by nature, he sliced either the metaphorical or literal throats of every living thing that stood between him and his throne. A man few would sympathize with, and more likely to hate, he was captivating.

Mr. Monroe was an avid reader, collector, restorator, chef, and painter, but more than the rest, a hunter. Perhaps it’s too easy to make the case that a backstabbing corpse-climbing entrepreneur of Mr. Monroe’s status would be interested, if not enveloped, with the idea of hurling lethal chunks of metal toward largely defenseless animals, however, the case can be made. Mr. Monroe had a flair for the exotic. Artifacts that ought to be in the Smithsonian, teeter on antique bookshelves rickety enough to make any self-respecting curator shudder at the lack of protection and direct lighting. The 1929 Duesenberg that sat beneath the home in the lower garage was always his baby, but no possession compared to Ms. Monroe.

The kind of love that nobody ever gives a chance is usually the strongest. This wasn’t the story of the high rolling bachelor who looked across the room into the eyes of his future companion, but quite the opposite. Ms. Carson was the typical struggling waitress of an era before ours, until she caught a glimpse of an arrogantly handsome young man seated at the far corner of the minimum wage diner where she worked. And while it might have been hasty to describe Mr. Monroe as arrogant, Ms. Carson had dealt with his kind many a grungy night before. She didn’t wait his table or drop a fork as an excuse to bend over and pick up his attention. None of that.

She glanced at him maybe once or twice throughout the night, for she knew the best way to hunt was to act as prey. Later that night, Mr. Monroe left with a booming, “Thank you, Maria; send my regards to the chef,” in a tone Ms. Carson couldn’t quite discern as either mocking or sincere. There was no doubt in the young Missus’ mind that he would be back once more.

As you’d have it, that happened to be the following night— “Hello, and welcome to Jack’s. How many do you have tonight?”

Ms. Carson had already seen him, already lit up in the face, and already calmed herself down by the time Mr. Monroe leaned in towards the perky blonde hostess and said rather quietly. “Just one tonight.

“Right this way please.”

“Is there any way you could get me a table with that waitress?”

Placing plates on her forearms, Ms. Carson looked up to see a nudge of the man’s head in her direction. Had he really noticed her the night before?

The petite hostess replied, “Of course sir. Let me show you to a table.” She led the way to a sturdy wood table covered with polyurethane an inch thick. “Can I get you anything to drink tonight?”

“What’s the best you have?”

“We have a couple imports…”

“That would be perfect. I’m hoping it’ll be a long one.”

The man sat down in his expensive but modest looking suit, loosened his tie, unbuttoned his collar, and waited for the woman he intended to marry. A thought many entertained after seeing a person of attraction, but Mr. Monroe was a serious man, especially in his interests. The moment he saw the waitress hiding in the back the night before, he didn’t fall in love, not at first at least, but he knew she was something of value.

Years later, the married Mr. and Mrs. Monroe lived a rather wealthy comfortable lifestyle. Obscene amounts of money always received through Mr. Monroe’s line of work accustomed them to a tangible disregard for paper currency. The Monroe’s were indeed tantalizing to many, in that nobody knew exactly what they did.

Mrs. Monroe had quit her job shortly after moving in with Mr. Monroe and had never worked again. He, on the other hand, worked all his life in a kind of work he simply referred to as “investing.” He didn’t work for a company, a firm or an individual. No one knew what he invested in and what exactly he was investing, including Mrs. Monroe. Secret agent, crime kingpin, pimp, diamond thief, hit man, consultant, private eye, spy, or any other occupation used in poorly written novels came up only in dinner conversations in which the Monroe’s were not present. Talk within elite circles often reflected lives in which they, themselves, had wished they lived. It wasn’t until he was asked the eight-hundred-and-seventy-second time about his occupation that everyone finally gave up and decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. The towel had been thrown and its color white. Mr. Monroe was “an investor.”

They became insultingly boring. Nobody knew or cared what they did with their seemingly endless influx of money. No child was ever born. No love affair ever occurred. There were no extravagant vacations or plans for the future. No grand scheme.  There wasn’t even a death in the family until Mr. Monroe himself passed away from a heart attack. For the Monroe’s, it seemed that only the present existed. He would go to work every day and she would often run errands that only the bored rich would consider: buying ludicrously expensive designer clothes or getting body modifications of the subtle and often plastic variety.

Now we return to Ms. Monroe, still sitting still in the company of six dead animals, filling her crossword puzzle word by word. Finished, she stood up from the loveseat, slipped on her shoes, locked the door behind her before making her usual walk down the street. She walked at a casual pace a few blocks to the local grocery store, ‘Daniels,’ a family run joint that seemed to always be teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. The building was painted white a couple decades ago but still holds the air of trust and care that most down and out businesses hold. She had only seen a cockroach inside the store once in the many times she has been there, but that was long before this day. It was clean now. Even the exquisitely handsome bag-boy looked as if he had shaved the night before. A young man Ms. Monroe had seen, and thought about, on numerous occasions.


8 P.M. was upon her as quick as the knocks on the door. Ms. Monroe was in a midnight blue dress cut above the knees but still long enough to maintain some classiness. The young man wore a button-up with black pants and shoes. A subtle refinement lied in his Onyx cufflinks. She greeted him with a bow of the head.

“Evening Ms. Monroe”


“Of course.”

She walked to the kitchen and left him in a place unlike any home he had ever seen before. European paintings in gilded frames hung on the French Rococo papered walls. Persian rugs lined the hardwood floor with exotic furs covering each piece of settable furniture. He walked into what might be called the living room. There he saw an ivory keyed grand piano with fine porcelains that he had no idea came from the seventeenth century. Just as he noticed the six beasts in the corners of the room, Ms. Monroe entered with two crystal glasses in her hands. She gave one to him.

“To a night unexpected.” She spoke with such conviction that he couldn’t help but imagine the woman standing before him naked on the sheets of some equally exotic animal from the farthest basements of the world. With her nude body clear in his mind, he took a long drink. He laughed to himself, and then fell to the ground unconscious.


The bag boy stood in the middle of a highway. No cars were on it. He began to walk down the black and yellow line towards nothing. There was nothing on either side of him, nor in front nor behind. He closed his eyes for a long time. He opened them to see it was now light. Still nothingness all around him. There was no sun where it should have been. A white-feathered condor landed a few feet in front of him. Its scaly reptilian head, pink in ways that only painfully raw skin ever is, turned towards him. Its marble eyes stared through him without moving. The bag boy stepped towards it but it was gone. His body suddenly froze. He could only move his eyes. A chill spiked through his spine, from his skull to his tailbone but he could no longer shudder. Paralyzed.


The bag boy opened his eyes. He couldn’t move. He was seated upright at a table with six other people, all men with the exception of one. Ms. Monroe sat across from him. The room was adorned in a style similar to what he remembered of the other rooms. Paintings were hung, carpets laid, even a crystal chandelier floated a few feet above him, but the walls were different. A dark stone- grey color, maybe metal. It gave off wisps of coldness, a coldness he could feel deep within him, despite the paralysis. Mashed potatoes, sliced fruit, and a good-sized steak sat on the plates of all those sitting, from what he could see. No one ate. Panic finally touched him on the shoulder. He couldn’t move. Ms. Monroe felt the quickened heartbeat across the table.

“I was wondering when you’d wake up.” His eyes met hers. She leaned across the table and kissed him for what seemed like an eternity. He couldn’t even feel her lips.

“Don’t worry, they won’t be jealous.” She nodded to the other men at the table. “Even my husband won’t mind.” She looked at the head of the table. It was freezing. Still no one ate. “Maybe they were all paralyzed,” he thought. No. The deep fear of a maimed and cornered animal hit his soul. These men are dead. This is a freezer. This is where I will die.

She took a bite of her mashed potatoes and smiled to her husband and asked, “Darling, what do you think of my final addition?” She waited. “I think so too. He’s the one I’ve been telling you about, the one that works at Daniel’s.” She looked back at the bag boy.

“Don’t take it personally, my dear. You should feel honored to be my final acquisition. Most men aren’t worth collecting.”

He closed his eyes to slow his breathing. He held it, and slowly let out. His lips could feel the air coming out of his lungs. His fingertips started to tingle. She ate a piece of her steak and drank a glass of wine. She asked him, “Are you scared?”He tried to nod his head but couldn’t. He let out a noise. His body loosened.

“You shouldn’t be. I’m not crazy you know. I’m not going to rape you or cut off your limbs or eat you. I just wanted dinner.” She swallowed her last bite of mashed potatoes and walked over to a bench where there were two syringes lying on the top.

“You don’t have to do this,” He said, close to unintelligibly, but she understood.

“What was that?” She asked.

“You don’t have to do this.”

“I’m aware of that young man. I only do what I want to, not what I have to.”

He was able to move his hands beneath the table.

“Why are you doing this to me?”

“I already told you that. You are of value. It’s a compliment.” There was a slight strain in her voice. She picked up a syringe, tapped it, and squirted out a little at the end.

“What is that?”

“You sure ask a lot of questions. It is a glycol ether solution. It will hold you together once you are dead. Don’t worry though, it’s painless. You’ll just fall asleep.” She walked over to him with the syringe.

“Can I ask you one more question?”

“You just did.” With that she walked over to him and jabbed at his arm with the syringe. He kicked himself onto the ground and avoided the needle. He stood up looking calmer and more powerful than he ever had before. Ms. Monroe froze. She jabbed again only to be caught by her wrist by the bag boy. He squeezed. She dropped it.

“Where are the keys?” He asked her. In stunned silence, she pointed to the bench where the needles were with her free hand. He pulled her to the bench and picked up the keys.

“I’m going to lock you in here. This is where you will die. And nobody will ever know.” He pulled her to the chair and threw her in it. He slowly walked out of the room and locked the giant refrigerator door behind him. He exited the house leaving the keys on the coffee table. He went home.


Ms. Monroe hadn’t said a word since she had lost control. She sat in the same spot where he threw her. She looked around to the paintings and then the men and stopped at her husband.” I’ll see you soon honey.” She walked over to the bench, grabbed a syringe, sat down at the table across from the empty seat, and plunged it into her thigh. She closed her eyes and saw an endless highway in front of her.