Tortilla Soup, a recipe


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 frozen chicken breasts (or six tenderloins, whatever is available)
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with cilanto and lime
  • 2 4 oz. cans chopped green chile peppers (mild or spicy)
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 14.5 oz. can chicken broth (we use the big boxes of broth because it makes more soup)
  • 1 tsp each cumin, chili powder and salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper (or less if you like)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pkg frozen corn

*the recipe also calls for one bunch of chopped cilantro but my mom hates cilantro so that’s why we have the tomatoes with cilantro and lime
*we also use red gold tomato products because they’re quality, yummy, and readily available bc local woo!

Optional topping: 

  • lime wedges
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream (it cuts the spice)
  • avocado (i don’t like avocado personally)
  • tortilla chips


1) place chopped onion in the bottom of slow cooker

2) layer the frozen chicken (or human) breast on top.

3) add diced tomatoes and juice, green chiles, enchilada sauce, garlic, broth, spices and bay leaf.

4) cook on low 6-8 h. 

5) remove bay leaf. 

6) remove chicken (or human) to plate, shred with 2 forks return to crock pot. 

7) stir in corn (here’s where i turn the crock to high). 

8) continue to heat til corn is hot.

9) add a handful of chopped cilantro. 

Usually serves 6-8 but use the entire box of broth and you have leftovers for days my main

This recipe is courtesy of my Tumblr acquaintance Katy @katofthekitvariety

Otherkin-d Of Like A Platypus

“Wait, what?”

“I am told it is a state of being that identifies as a mythological creature.”

He frowns at me, which usually means that he is giving a tremendous amount of thought to what I have said, but is displeased with that. “So…like….if I feel like a dragon….I can be a dragon?”

I shrug and put away the mixing bowls. “I suppose so. I really have no idea how it works, and not being a human, and actually being something upon which many such creatures are based….my perspective is a bit different.”

Rebecca takes off the cartoon animal hat that the child has put on her head and smoothes her hair. “I know about this! I read about it on Tumblr. But yeah, it’s gotta be weird for you, I bet. Like…yo…you say you’re a vampire…but like….”

“Please let’s not devolve into vampire jokes.”

He is still frowning, but she waves her hands as she swallows the last of her drink. “No! No! I mean, that’s just one myth but there’s others! Like…goblins and whatnot.”

I let out a sigh and turn back to the sink to finish the rest of the washing. “For once, I wish that someone would find a happier myth to compare to me.”

She snorts. “You eat people.”

“So do ants,” he is quick to defend.

“Well you get what I’m saying, right?”

I make a face that she cannot see. “Yes, I have advised some of them, to whom I have spoken at some length, that they are in fact identifying as something based on me. It does not appear to matter. I have enough trouble carving out my identity from this uncaring world without adding Tumblr to it, and yet…that is the experiment.”

In my periphery, his frown evolved into a narrow eyed stare. “I have a question.”

“You always do.”

“Does that mean I can identify as you?”

I turn to look at him. He is giving me his mischievous tilt of the mouth that he knows melts the hearts of the females he manages to impress with his masculinity. I roll my eyes heavenward.

“If ever there was a human…”

“He makes a great point though! I mean…okay…” she spreads her hands across the kitchen island as if laying out a small stage peopled by fleas. “So like….you know, because you’ve been alive, that those things aren’t real, or like, you’d have seen them if they were or whatever…so like, I mean…you know that all those people are just owning your mythology.”

“I don’t even own my mythology. Humans wrote it. You deal with the blasted shit!” I toss down the sponge.

“Well what I mean is…they’re not really “other” are they? They’re just….your-kin.”

I suppose, in a way, I can see why a human would not wish to be human. I may despair of killing and eating you, but that is because I like you. I would not wish to be one of you. That seems a lamentable fate. For some time now, I have seen otherkin and all such identifiers as merely an extension of feeling unwelcome in one’s reality, or uncomfortable being a meat sack with an expiration date. Perhaps it is more than that. Perhaps it is an extension of the thing that began the experiment in the first place.

An aside, if you will.

I mean no disrespect. Not even a little. Those of you who identify as “otherkin” may carry on however it pleases you to do so, so long as none of you dragons begin demanding virgin sacrifices. I care not. What concerns me is the obvious conundrum and how it feeds into my argument with your species- to whit:

You are obviously human. I have a nose, excellent hearing, exceptional senses. I can tell that if I stabbed just here, you would cease to be…whatever you claim to be. I therefore cannot comprehend how there is any point of contention in saying that this “otherkin nature” is wholly and utterly in the mind. And please read me carefully when I say, I ascribe it no value judgement. I did not say such would be a “diseased mind”. In point of fact, I think the sum total of humanity has a diseased mind.

“I can get wanting to be a dragon and like…living like a dragon, or like how you think a dragon would live if it lived in a human body, but…I don’t know,” Rebecca mutters. “But I mean…like aren’t they sort of sucking up that fiction? Trying to be you? Trying to be a monster? Like…aren’t they trying to absorb the things that frighten humanity?”

“I doubt any of them would say they ever chose to be what they are. They often regard it with the same deference as a sexual identity.”

He shakes his head. “But they’re human. By definition anything that makes a human feel inhuman is a personality disorder.” I give him “the look”. This happens when he says things that are unqualified with facts or makes assumptions about me. He usually finds it alluring in some way. At the moment, he is still frowning, however, and shakes it off. “And how exactly does a unicorn live if it were in a human body, huh?”

“I suppose…however it is that they choose to live.” I sip my coffee and cut a fresh piece of pie.

“So, I could claim to identify as you, live however I chose, and that would be how you would live if you were in a human body?”

I am undone. There is very little I can say. The fact is, if I was suddenly transposed with a human, I imagine I would live a life very similar to his- well, with copious apologetic donations to various Human Rights organizations.

“But what do they think about people just making up a mythological being?” She lifts a finger. “Like what if I invented my own creature?”

“That would be ‘fiction-kin’. Apparently the qualification of a mythological creature is something made up by a long dead human and written about by other dead humans. If a modern human makes it up, it is just fiction.”

“But they’re all just fiction!” She shouts in exasperation.


“So then its all one thing!”

“And it’s all nuts.”

I cannot help but chuckle helplessly into my mug. I spend several hours every day attempting to fathom half of the things I see on television or the internet. The arguments over memes, the needless pigeonholing of politics along the lines of personal experiences that have little to do with the sum total benefit for humanity, the dissections of certain cannons – such that there is now a phrase “head cannon”- which to me sounds like a method of suicide. You bicker over which invisible sky entity said what to which dead person in which book written by an imprisoned fortune teller in a dead language that only six people on the planet can translate. You kill each other over the stupidest of things, and while you think it has gotten better, I would argue it has gotten worse. This is what happens when the collective mind of humanity has difficulty metabolizing all the fiction it sucks down its gullet and attempts to reconcile that to the outside world. 

I would argue that if one were to consider the whole of humanity as cells in a brain and contextualize all trends as single amorphous thoughts, you would see that this is how a mind grows up…and into a disorder. First you believed everything that seemed the least bit feasible, you then underwent education, you ignored those programmed ideas, but then returned to them to simultaneously protect, idealize, romanticize, or remake them until they no longer have discord with your concept of the universe. But you are still learning, and as undeniable fact presents itself, those dreams and wishes of what magic might be are pushed even deeper into your psyche…until it becomes a secret identity, a lens through which you view existence, a modifier of all fact before it even reaches your brain.

I stand before you unamused, yet filled with dark humor, as one who has always been a mote on the currents of your frenetic clash with all that is quantifiable. I snicker because no doubt, I will one day have to contend with someone actually assuming they are me, and not simply a cousin of mine.

My two friends see this as one inexplicable quirk of their species, a subset of human they will immediately classify as “other” and then ostracize. One portion of the mind being shut off by the other. They do not realize that they do the same thing, even in daily life. Every time Chef assumes my feelings to bear even a slight resemblance to his romantic urges. Every time she talks to the child about Santa Claus. Any time any of them, even ironically, use the word “God”. It is happening all around you, and you defend it with the vicious paranoia of a mind with a complex.

Meanwhile I, saying this to you, shall be either lauded or shunned by degrees, as is the custom. And I am familiar with the process in a way that still remains irksome despite the years.

“I’m gonna just make up an animal,” he says to my silent but obvious musings. “Because it’s all myth.”

“Ooh! I feel like I might be a sloth-bear.”

“Those are two real animals,” I point out.

He grins, “Yeah, don’t you know at least one of them has to be old-fake and not new-fake? Like a platypus and a unicorn.”

I think on my several unicorn-loving acquaintances and wonder what they will think of this progression.

“What would you call it?” 

She chews her lip. “A Plunicorn?”

“I am almost certain that already exists,” I say.

They exchange a look of disbelief. Oh ye of little education, how inaccurate and uninformed is your self-image? But I suppose if one cell could conceive of the other cells accurately, it might decide to never deal with those assholes again, and completely shut down the body.

“No way!” They exclaim at once.

I take out my phone and search. Within seconds I have hundreds of references to people who have used “plunicorn” as their name on any number of sites. I hold it out to them. 

He is unimpressed. “Well, shit…a plunicorn could be a fucking unicorn from Pluto. Let’s call it a platycorn!”

Wry expression in place, I call up the search and show him the first thing to pop on screen.

His mouth falls open.

“If you can imagine it, then someone else has, and the felicity of information transit means they have already given it to someone who can draw, and that someone has sent it to 7 billion people. And now there are probably thousands of humans who identify as this stupid poisonous Narwhal. You underestimate your own insanity.”

Jaws dangling, they fall into their cups and leave me in peace.

Much later, when the children are unconscious, and he is twined around me beside the fire pit, his chin resting on my shoulder, he begins to whisper a mea culpa in my ear on behalf of his entire species throughout time.

I shush him.

“No, I’m gonna say it, because I think you need to hear it. I get it, I think. I get what you’re feeling when you hear shit like that. To you it feels like your identity is being stolen, even while other people tell you that you either cannot exist or that if you did you’d be hated. That’s a rejection on every possible level while they turn you into all their good and bad jokes all at once.”

There is nothing to be said. That is precisely the way it has felt, and while I have tried to be objective and view it from the outside, it sometimes still stings.

“But you’re missing something.”

“And what is that?”

“We are different species. You’re seeing us the way you see us, not the way we are. It’s the exact same thing we’re doing to you. Your entire theory is based on your perspective, and I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m just saying that you haven’t considered that maybe we actually just think this way. That we tackle all the shit we hate about reality in the same way every time. Maybe it isn’t a mental illness soaking into all we do. Maybe it’s a process that gets applied to everything even a little bit similar. There’s more of us than there are of you, but that doesn’t make our way better or even logical.”

I stare at him and feel myself grow cold in his arms as I reframe all I have been thinking for the last few centuries from this new vantage. 

If he is correct, that would mean that humanity would take the inexplicable forces of nature, turn them into fictions, absorb and insert themselves into the myth and then rework it and mash it until the gods were tiny friends about their size who sometimes can be killed. If he is correct, certain men will comb derelict houses looking for traces of a spirits until their entire fortune is decimated, meanwhile broadcasting their conjecture into millions of homes so that the human mill can churn and churn until mortality has been transformed into something that can be borne. If he is right, monsters will amplify and warp us to suit their worst parts, then make the rejection or absorption of us into their newest self-awareness exercise, until somewhere, some child reads my journal, and decides that through a curious twist of an imperfect grasp of science, he is me.

“That is a very inefficient and ineffective system,” I breathe.

“No shit. In case you hadn’t noticed, we aren’t exactly the epitome of evolution.”

“It is amusing to hear you tell yourself that you are.”

“Well, it’s just the same thing, isn’t it? Maybe it’s the first thing. The first fiction we ever ate.”

Indeed. When man decided he was obviously smarter than his neighbors, he must have spent centuries trying to feel less alone. Perhaps that is the heart and all the other machinations weave around that delicate organ, protecting it from the onslaught of chaos. You need to be special. Otherwise…you are an accident, and the universe is a fickle thing. It is a beautiful, glorious, bizarre, life-giving and toxic thing.

Kind of like a platypus…if you crossed it with a unicorn.

Perhaps you’re not insane. Perhaps you’re just not as rational as some of us. I wonder what you would do, if I ever actually began to believe in the costume I wear, if one day, I simply looked in the mirror and said “I identify as human.” Perhaps I already have done, by assuming you think anything like me, or are even capable of it. Perhaps we will never understand each other, and perhaps that means we should both take off our costumes and “be ourselves” instead of trying to define what that self is in relation to perceived societal norms. Perhaps we should all confront reality for what it is, and fight that in a more direct fashion.

But then again, platycorns are apparently quite adorable, and who wants to deal with reality? Let’s continue to invent spells and imagine fairies, instead of examine all the stupefying reality that actually does exist. Fairies are easier, because I can make them think and feel whatever I want, while I cannot explain gravity or make you see my opinion as valid.

Forgive the sarcasm. It comes from years of annoyance. Please don’t be tempted to think that my examination of you in any way dims my appreciation of you as a species. It does not. I suppose I shall simply have to accept that you are this way. You have brilliance in you and perhaps your fictionalization of the entirety of existence is simply that which makes you creative.

If you want to make up a person’s that suits you, well, whatever. I suppose we all do every time we step out the door. 

But, as someone said recently, it is easy to pretend to be an asshole and then excuse your bad behavior by saying “Well, I guess I’m an asshole.” Don’t identify as an asshole. That is a terrible fiction to tell one’s self. 

Go with the platycorn.


It was never my intention to make my suffering fodder for your edification, but these are the consequences of this experiment, I suppose.

I will tell you what transpired. Please do not reply with well-wishes or sorrow. I do not require it. Try not to reply in anger, if that is your feeling at the close. I ask that you simply observe as I have tried to, and take it for what it is worth. I was not the person I am now. And this person has very little in common with that predecessor, such that when I look so far back, I have very little emotion invested in my actions, and what little emotion I have is either anger, shame, or the memory of suffering.

If you have read the first Snack, you know that I was in France from the mid 1300’s to 1400’s, until the debacle and depravity I witnessed there. I became very disgusted and annoyed with humanity. I changed from someone looking upon the world with honest wonder and an apologetic deference because of my condition, to someone very rageful and very, very despondent. I ceased to care whom I hurt, or how. I wandered through the south of France, across to Spain. I never settled. I lived hand to mouth and left bodies on the path behind me. I simply did not care.

Recall that at this time, I could not read. Very few people could. Religion was handled with an iron fist and the only legitimacy came from the Pope. It was a dark time; the last Crusades had filled everyone with fear for new faces or new ideas. But regardless there were several reformist movements active at the same time. When the royal family of Spain – the same King and Queen that dispatched Columbus on his quest- got wind of these many attempts to undermine the Church, they sent to Rome. They demanded the Pope take action and sanction a new Inquisition. A witch hunt. The Pope was ambivalent, but they began to blackmail him, saying that they would establish their own if he did not sanction it.

I knew none of this. I wandered to Madrid because I heard of mass migrations and sought to conceal myself among them. As I neared it, I learned that they were Jews being forcibly cast out by the Spanish monarchy. These people had lived there for years. Some knew nothing else. They were businessmen, traders, craftsmen. They owned property, had families. They were Spaniards. This did not matter.

In other parts of the country, dissenters and resistors were rounded up and tortured. Some were put to death in public in large groups. But in 1492, the Inquisition had not yet reached Madrid. I arrived and believed I was safe for at least a time. I knew almost at once that I was wrong.

People had that subdued mood about them, the one that hangs like a film over everything, dimming the sun and setting the air alight with crackling energy. I tried to find work. With Jews being exiled, there would be plenty. I had some papers, given me by a priest, documenting my religious devotion, my skills- at least, this is what he told me they said. I thought I would find a new home, but it all ended rather quickly.

Rumors came, as they usually do, that the Jews were rising up, that some had made pacts with the devil. That moors had been summoned from the dark recesses of Northern Africa. That devils were come to tempt their daughters and seduce their virtue from them.

There was a young lady. I will call her a “sensitive”, because I haven’t any other word. She happened upon me one day near her father’s usual stall. He was a grocer, I think. I am uncertain because I never knew her from anyone, but over the course of a few days, I noticed her following me through the market as I was sent on tasks. At first, she stared, but then began to slink after me, watching me walk down alleys, marking my habits. I surprised her one afternoon by doubling back. And as soon as she gasped, I realized I had done the wrong thing. She knew what I am. There was a moment of utter stillness as I thought of killing her. I hesitated. She saw it on my face, and she ran.

Days later she began to act strangely- a mental breakdown caused by our encounter, I will wager. More than likely combined with the ubiquitous underlying psychological disorders of the day, a fear of hellfire, a fear of her father uncovering her affections for some illicit partner. I really cannot say. But apparently, when she finally collapsed in exhaustion and tremors, they begged to know what had caused her infirmity, and she told them it was I.

At the time, I had given my services to a local widower. He was the proprietor of a small stable. I tended the animals and in turn received a place to live. No better than a horse pen, but something like the Hilton in those days. They came in the night, in a familial mob. They caught me unawares, eating my fill. I was sleepy and obvious in my Monstrous Glory. As the horses became even more agitated, one man set fire to the mews which was arranged in the gap between two buildings, abutting a courtyard. I was pinned, and as I stood there, they dragged the man and his children out of their home. I knew that I could run, kill a few of them, possibly escape, but something in me was just tired. I did not want to see the man harmed for his kindness to me. And to be perfectly honest, I wanted to die.

I had never been captured before. And while I may have been recognized for my condition before, it had never happened like this. I did not know what to expect. I thought it would be more public, a heretical trial on a platform, before a panel of adjudicators from the Chruch as happened with Jeanne de Arc. But there were other things at play.

There was no High Inquisitor in Madrid, you see. There was no expert in the arts of demonic exorcisms and how to gain confessions. The men, simple tradesmen, had only stories. They improvised.

I was chained and stripped, beaten quite severely, such that I recall very little of the trip to the cellar- not because I was unconscious, you see, but because I was not myself. They examined me physically, poking me with sharp things and watching me heal, as if I were a massive pincushion. One of them hit me across the face with a club. I managed to snap at him, and then my teeth were of intense interest. They used hot irons to force me to speak, laying them on my skin like little spitting brands, all the while repeating prayers. Prayers that God should preserve them from me; the irony of it… I told them that if they did not let me leave or kill me outright, there would be consequences. I was ignored.

The woman was brought down. By this time she had convinced two other girls of the curse beneath which she labored. They too began to feel afflicted. I was forced to listen to her talk of her dreams, accusing me of all manner of “unnatural” acts.

I listened to all of it. I hung there and I let them do this. Partly because I believed that I deserved it, I suppose. Partly out of a desire to see that dark part of the human mind, the part that could explain all the suffering I had witnessed. Partly because I wanted it to end, and I thought they would free me, when I have never been successful at it myself. But her father and her older brother began to talk, and they decided it was more pious to deliver me to their priest with all my secrets revealed, my summoner exposed. Thus, they would escape suspicion of being my cohorts, and would be lauded as heros.

I do not like to talk about what was done next. The flesh can heal, but the mind does not, and it has been the subject of many conversations with Victoria. I cannot cry or scream for my life. It is not in me. But if I could adequately express my misery, I doubt it would mitigate a damn thing.

Every time I was asked who sent me, what my hellish name might be, whether or not the people I knew were responsible, I said nothing. Most of my limbs were broken, I should think, though by that time I could not discern which part of me was injured. They tied weights to my feet and dragged me over a kind of work horse structure, as I could not stand . The pain was fascinating to me, how it always seemed so fresh. It is the only thing that felt new to me at all. I don’t know how to address it except that I surrendered, I was shocked into silence. I do not know how to explain myself.

They shoved iron into my mouth, to rest if it would hurt me. They laid crucifixes on my skin to see what it would do. Silver did nothing. Their science was cruel but in no way invasive, which did not suit them. They pried loose claws and teeth. Other things are not fit for mentioning.

But what is most important to say, is that they did not laugh or mock me. This was not an occasion for mirth. this was an act on behalf of God to spare them of an evil that was real and right before their eyes. If I had seemed more human doubtless they would have taken some measure of delight in attempting to expose me for a monster, but being obvious, spared me from having to witness that. I would have occasion later to see such behavior- as tormentors are bullies, and bullies find sport in it, because they are joyously undoing their own flaws by painting their victims the embodiment of them.

I do not know how long I held my own, hoping that at every moment they would tire of the sport and cut off my head. I know that it had to be at least into the next evening, perhaps longer. I became less and less coherent.

I have a vague sense that one of them was trying to enlist my aid. It was a man, I think. I could have imagined all of it, but I think I remember him whispering to me. He wanted to know if I could be pulled from the service of my master.

When I woke…it was utter carnage. I had slipped my bonds. How? I know not. They were still locked. The woman was a bloodless doll with her stomach in her lap. She stared into open space, directly at me as I came awake. My accuser still.

Several of the bodies were torn limb from limb. Her father and two brothers, I think. Another young lady in the hall, a man at the top of the stairs. All of them killed quickly and all in very bloody fashion. The walls were spattered. The floors were pools of deep russet.

What I say now, I say through honesty only. I am not proud of it. Please do not tell me that I was within my rights, if you mean to, because that is not true. And I’ll thank you to remember that at the time, I believed myself better than my species and better still than man. I was a creature whose cleverness was unparalleled. I was someone who was neither subject to fancy nor to dullness. In many ways, my still-forming rules of the hunt were founded upon the principle notion that I would never be like you, most especially in how I kill. I was forced to bend to your society, work within your shadows, but in those days the shadows were so long that I had hardly any trouble.

No children, not ever. Because that was something even you could not claim, a level of control you could not reach. I claimed that and then I lost it.

There were two little ones. Both crumpled in a heap in a small courtyard off the kitchens. I think I crushed them with my bare hands, but I could not bring myself to touch them while awake. The liver mortis  had already set in, leaving little lavender tide lines around their limbs.

I sat on the dirt and stared at my handiwork. I waited for the men I knew would come. I waited to be taken to the priest, or dragged to the Inquisition. I waited for hours. But the silence stretched and I realized no one was coming.

I left them there. I stole all that I could and I left them. I do not know what was thought of the horror that was uncovered the next day. Perhaps they imagined it was a thief, a roaming band of angry, displaced exiles or an angry witch. I really cannot tell you. We didn’t have newspapers (or anything like them) for another twenty years or so, and I couldn’t read anyway. I can tell you that within the year, the Church came to Madrid, and carried on. Thus began the heights of the Spanish Inquisition.

I crawled into myself and refused to come out. I do not know how long. A few years, perhaps. I walked back to France, because it was what I knew, though the journey took me ages. I eventually struck east, intent to go to China, and see the Silk Road like a Venetian. I cut through to the Amboise. As I traveled, I became even more angry than I ever had been before. I did not just fail to comprehend humanity. I hated it. And then I met him. And he made me certain that I would never again trust any human, whether I knew their suffering or not. It was not until Strasbourg that I began to see the frailty in the human mind- truly grasp that you cannot conceive of a universe that does not pattern itself after you, swirl around you, focus upon you. The world’s difficulties were sent to torment you, because why else would they happen? Even being ignored, having an average and uneventful existence was somehow planned by a deity that could apparently care less while demanding submission and devotion. To me this was the very definition of an abusive relationship, and even stranger, one you invented and inflicted upon yourself. What a tremendous pressure and burden to put upon a mind. I think I understood after the Dancing Plague that humans torture themselves far more.

A profound sadness took me. And I despaired. It was offset only by contact with Hans, who was very kind and never pressed me. He taught me what he knew and never expected me to do anything but learn.

That is the story. Or the important parts of it. I will spare you all the emotional torment in between.

Monsters are not natural. They don’t simply exist. We make them. We are them, become them, when we exist in conflict with one another instead of awareness of each other’s flaws and difficulties. The men who tortured me had every reason, for to them I was a dire threat. My explanations would not have mattered in that frenzy. Humanity was simply  not aware enough to converse with me upon the notion that other species exist. The concept would have been heretical.

But at the time, I could not foresee a moment when it would be possible to have that conversation, the one I am currently having with you, gentle reader.

In my experience, most men do what is best for them alone, and feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment and mirth at this notion. That is their most basic drive of survival, and I cannot fault them for it, any more than I can a dog for biting. The barest civility keeps them in check. All it takes is one circumstance that gives them permission, and they revert back to that selfish animal. This is why manners are so important, and composure is the best armor.

I know that this week has angered you, filled you with fear for your own survival, but I caution you- do not lash out at the monsters you see. They are frightening because they seem to be strong and outnumber you, but they have stories, reasons they think what they do. You do not need to pity them and they will make their own consequences, but if you mean to disarm them, you cannot yourself become a monster. You will not like the results.

I know this story is a depressing one. Much of my life is. This is one reason I always caution you to stay away. I cannot make it any more enjoyable for you. I cannot change what has been, nor do I owe you that. I can only offer it as something from which I have learned a great deal, and hope that you may do that same.

Thank you.


This is a post which was deleted from Creature’s Cookbook 2: Monster’s Mise En Place. In chronological order, it should be first. Merely one of the many things that had to be trimmed to reign me in to a sensible word count.

“Which one of you did this?”

They exchange a look. I cannot tell which one of them is more contrite. I would say the larger of the two, but his tail is capable of sagging, and that does skew the perception somewhat. The other hangs his shaggy head and fans his gaze over my feet, up my legs, a battering at my face, but then fluttering to the concrete.

I narrow my eyes.

“Which one of you is responsible?”

Tongues appear. Then both back away from me in a sense of certain destruction as I tap my toe dusted in one-of-a-kind 19th century porcelain. Tiny, hand-painted Romanesque figures are stopped in their last dance around the maypole, ribbons fluttering in the dead breeze. The carefully procured set still in its box was the product of several decades of searching; worth a down payment on a house, or a brand new car, it lies in porous little shards.

“I will eat you,” I seethe.

Both of them cower. Back to the bar I chase them, until the dog hides in the kitchen and the monster climbs the barstools. His coloring book is open and his half-chewed crayons are scattered. In the poorly shaded image, I see the truth — young girls dancing in a circle, holding hands, their hair done up in ribbons. Several weeks ago I caught him looking in that box; and now he has done it again to disastrous effect. Just so that he could color it properly.

I count. When this fails, I divide. Giving up that for rage, I proceed immediately to factoring a polynomial. My x’s and y’s in a row, I lick my fangs and take deep breaths. Insurance. There was insurance on it. I can make a claim. I can photograph it. I can contact the adjustor immediately and make a claim. As I do this, the two assailants chew — the larger at his paws, the smaller at his crayons.

The evidence is emailed, and the adjustor contacted. I squat beside the pieces and shift them with my claws. Such a gorgeous set of six cups and saucers, pot, sugar dish, and creamer. Every tiny hair and feature captured with the precision of a laser, and here it lies, having gone the way of all flesh.

A tragedy.

Some poor soul, sat at this thing with a brush in his hand. He wetted it with his own tongue, he peered into a magnifying glass. Some day, perhaps, he went blind from the staring by gas lamp. Perhaps this set, the trifle of some corseted trophy wife, sat on display in a drawing room. They survived wars, transatlantic voyages, fires! My kinsman, shattered on the floor.

Fred sniffs. “Fix.”

“It can’t be fixed, Fred. You can’t glue this back together and make it whole. It was beautiful because it had survived for so long. It doesn’t mean anything anymore.”

He drops from the stool like a Chimpanzee and saunters cautiously to me. With that grace that is ours alone, he plucks pieces up and begins to arrange them on the ground, carefully setting the curved bits and flattened fragments of plate into lines. Occasionally, he lifts several bits and looks them over, then they are replaced in different order. Disconsolate, I watch his work, willing to allow him whatever liberties he likes, now that the beauty has been slain; it might as well be devoured. A living tableau of Death and the Maiden.

As the pastel shapes are spread out, like an unfolding map, I see it. A puzzle — it comes to life, and for a moment, I am stunned out of my grief.

The maypole has multiplied. Three stand in a row, and girls composed of disjointed shards dance in a swirling line around all of them. They do not match perfectly, but the image is clear.

He points at it, and nudges me with a grinning face. “Fix!”

With a sigh, I go to the back and fish out a piece of thin wood. It was to be used as a secondary tool shed, but this is a worthwhile cause, I think. Fetching some goops and glues, I sit beside him on the ground, and we two immortals, with our teeth and our claws, turn this broken pottery — the stuff of civilization — into a pretty mosaic. Grouted and frankly lovely, it sits on the metal table in my shop and dries.

A priceless relic that is utterly worthless.

And Fred climbs back onto his stool and colors his pretty little picture.

What are we, I wonder? Are we destructive in our hearts, or constructive in our thoughts? Do we create, or do we annihilate? Or is there a difference. Dancing round that maypole, praying for spring, dreading winter, but preparing for it. Running from shadows to light torches to beat them back. What are we?

When it has cured, I hang it on the wall in my bedroom, and stare at it. Chef  straddles my hips, dangling his legs on either side of mine, his chin on my shoulder and his face pointed at our dread collage.

“It’s pretty. The colors go really well with the room.”

“I could have re-outfitted the entire Bistro.”

“Fuck me. It was insured, right?”

“Yes, but not at value. And that is not the point.”

“I know. You don’t like seeing things come apart. But you know, clay comes from somewhere. I don’t see you out crying over rocks eroding, or coal mines. Don’t see you out there sighing at the fucking coastline.”

And he is right. I care very little for the earth. I know why this is, in the secret heart of me. I know that I do not care for it because it is all circumstance. It is a pile of pieces that crashed into the ground and stuck, no order, no cleverness. As lovely and remarkable as the accident of organization, through evolution and trial and error, nothing is as gorgeous as that which comes from purpose and intent. Nothing is more stunning than a mind which turns something formless into something so dainty, molds mud into perfection.

“I can’t believe he saw that,” Chef whispers as he pulls his shirt over his head. “I saw that stupid thing a dozen times, and I never noticed that the figures overlapped like that.”


He points. “See? She was half there, and half on the cup. And that girl is half saucer, half pot. It’s like the image was a whole one that got cut and sculpted into the set.”

“A tesseract.”


“A two-dimensional image folded into three dimensions.”

He flops backward and wraps his feet up around me. I set my hands atop them, and tap the soles.

And now I see this broken thing anew. Once it sat in parlors and watered the well-heeled. now it unfolds its mysteries and shows me what civility looks like when it is unbent by monstrous hands.

I find that I like it very much.

“I think…I will call it ‘Teatime’,” I say with cocked head. “I wonder if there’s a market for Monster Art.”

“Have you seen the Chihuly museum? Looks like a Dr. Seuss book. I half expect Who’s to wander out from them. How much do the sell for — those ceiling ones that look like he threw all his practice pieces up in the air and backlit them?”

“They’re organic masterpieces!”

“They look like a neon ocean floor on acid. Like some Disney shit.”

I grimace back at him as he rolls up in the bed like a burrito folding itself. The light from my brilliant red chandelier casts a rosy glow. I shake my head as I listen to him snore.

Tomorrow, if Fred returns, I will have him sign his piece. He knows his letters well enough now.

A similar set, still intact.

You may find Creature’s Cookbook 2: Monster’s Mise En Place on the Tapas app.