The sauce, cherry-colored. I take a spoonful. All watching me, waiting for my reaction, too interested. Will not be good, I realize too late, after information already departed for parietal lobe. Ready myself for terrible taste. Filthy socks? Animal waste? Broccoli?

No. Spicy heat. It burns. Not prepared. Could never have prepared for this. Hands clapped over mouth. Mirth surrounds me. Laughter. At my cheese grater pain. My tongue shredded, then throat, then stomach. Now dagger pain.

Minutes pass. I’m writhing. Am handed leaves, told, “Chew.” Suspicious, but desperate. If told donkey piss would relieve pain, would try it, logistics aside. I chew leaves.

Bitter. But relief comes. Mouth, throat, stomach. Better. Not best. But better.

And now, I watch. I wait. And finally, victim arrives. I hand him the bowl. “Taste test,” I say.

“Try it.”


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