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Estimated reading time — 20 minutes

I softly clicked record on my laptop as I settled myself at the quaint old kitchen table across from my interview subject. “Could you please state your name, and the date,” I said in as pleasant of a voice as I could manage for the current situation.

The house we were in had been built sometime during the 1800s. While it had received its share of refurbishing over the generations, it was hardly by any stretch of the word ‘modernized.’ For this interview I had been required to attain a battery backup for my laptop so that I wouldn’t have to worry about finding the appropriate power adapter for their antiquated wiring.

She leaned in towards the cheap plastic microphone I had propped up in front of her. “My name is Meridian Course,” she said in the typical voice of a woman her age who had developed a two-pack a day smoking habit back when she was a teenager. This was typical of her community.


“And the date?” I responded into my own microphone.

Meridian paused to glance at the kitchen calendar. It showed the picture of children playing in an old wheelbarrow amidst a field of golden flowers. In the background there was a windmill and the whole scene was from some famous painting. She responded in her gravely voice, although the day was off by one. I jotted a note on my notepad to annotate that during the editing portion for my documentary podcast.

To put it politely, the entire environment of her nearly two century old house was toxic. When I had entered Meridian’s house I had immediately become alarmed by the tobacco brown coating of carcinogens blanketing every conceivable surface. Just inhaling the air in here made me want to cough. It was as if there was a filter that sucked out the oxygen to the house, and it was only after the kitchen window had been propped open with an old wooden ruler that we had been able to set up for this interview.

“Thank you kindly,” I responded before dictating into the microphone, “I am sitting here in the kitchen of Mrs Meridian Course, who resides in the humble township of Jefferson, California. Outside it is raining lightly on this late Spring morning, and other than the noticeable humidity, the weather is not wholly disagreeable. Mrs. Course’s niece has been kind enough to provide a pot of coffee after setting her aunt up for our interview. Her niece has now left to run errands at the local market and it is just Mrs Course and myself.”

My interviewee shifted uncomfortably in her chair across from me before she leaned awkwardly forward to purse her lips over the stem to a tobacco hookah. The hookah’s glass interior was the kind of dark brown one generally witnessed in good tea, which did not help my anxiety regarding our environment. “Could you light this for me?” she mumbled.

“Of course,” I sighed as I accommodated her with the lighter sitting on the table. She inhaled deeply as I dictated, “Mrs Course is partaking of a delightful antique tobacco hookah whose brass fittings mark it as coming from possibly the eighteenth century. So much in this quaint old village seems to harken back to an era when Americans were wholly self sufficient.”


“Why are you saying things like that?”

“It is important for me to provide some vivid imagery for my audience,” I responded smoothly. “Very few of the listeners have seen a remote community such as yours. To most people this is a foreign world.”

“I thought you were taking some pictures with your phone?”

“I was, but so many listen to the podcast while driving.”

“Ah,” was the response I got before she indicated that I needed to help her again with the hookah. While accommodating her I maintained the mask that was my smile.

“Mrs Course has a rather interesting story that she has agreed to tell us today. While many of our listeners are aware of Jefferson, not many in fact know the particulars of what transpired here. All they understand is where the fruits of the labor provided by the community members come from and not the actual process.”

“No, they do not,” Meridian agreed with me in her coarse voice. “We here in Jefferson never speak of it with outsiders. It’s forbidden.”

“And why is that precisely?”

“Shame mostly. You see, people here do not air their dirty laundry to outsiders. It’s shameful. Inappropriate. Dirty laundry is for family, as my grandmother used to tell us.”

“The attitude of an older, and some would say more civil generation,” I said with what I hoped was a convincing smile. The fact of the matter was that Meridian’s hookah smoke was beginning to affect my sinuses. It was going to be difficult to speak with the typical aplomb my listeners expected when I had my sinuses beginning to clog up.

Meridian nodded, requiring me to remind her that she needed to speak out loud, since podcast listeners couldn’t see her body language. In this particular case, that was preferable anyway. No one wanted to look at her, especially if they were going to dine anytime soon.
“Aren’t you worried about reprisals from the people of Jefferson?”

She barked out a laugh. “Reprisals? What reprisals could they do that could possibly do anything worse to me then what has happened? No, they can sit on a corn cob.” Meridian leaned forward again to attempt to purse her lips over the hookah’s stem. I watched for a moment to make sure that she would not lose her balance and tumble off of her chair. When I saw that she was in fact stable I once again helped her by lighting the tobacco for her.

“Besides, no one around here owns any fancy gadgets, so they’re not going to be listening to your podcast,” she mused after blowing out a cone of smoke towards the ceiling. I noted that she was at least polite enough to direct it away from me.

“Fair enough,” I smiled. “Now that we have set the scene for our interview, perhaps we could talk about the wheat?”

Meridian’s peculiar grayish-green eyes stared not quite directly at my own. They were watery, I noted to myself, and the irises seemed irregularly shaped. I likened them to messy ink splotches, which made me wonder to myself how hampered the woman’s vision might be?

“Wheat,” she grunted in a voice that conveyed many emotions to me. Wonderment and disgust were both prevalent, which is not easy to convey in one short syllable.

“Yes, the wheat, if you would? I understand that the local variety is a somewhat complex issue.”

“Complex. Complex? Yes, I guess it is. You see, we don’t talk about the wheat hereabouts. If you bring it up in public conversation you’re practically asking for a caning. Talk about it in front of the youth and you watch their mothers cover their ears. If the town elders find out then you risk having your share delivered to you in the spring. Ironic, don’t you think?”

“Yes, I suppose so. But why is it considered a topic not fit for polite conversation?”

“As I said before, mostly shame. The wheat here isn’t your normal variety, you see. It both saved and damned the people of Jefferson. It secured for us a dismal future instead of death. I liken it to moving up from the outermost ring of Hell to the lowest level of Limbo. Have you read the Divine Comedy?”

“I am well versed in the works of Dante Alighieri, thank you.” I kept my startlement that a woman of such a backwoods community, whose only source of education was an old wooden building that I likened to the school from Little House on the Prairie, had read such a complicated trilogy. Most college educated people have trouble getting past the Inferno, and maybe a quarter made it as far as the third work.

“Back in Civil War times the people of Jefferson had their own problems. We lived far enough West that the war didn’t particularly affect us. None of our men were called up to defend the country and the Southerners were distant enough that none of them bothered to come here seeking our help. But the supply lines were disrupted, and a local blight had affected our supply of wheat.

“Wheat was, and I guess still is, the lifeblood of Jefferson. This is cattle country here, and wheat provides everything we need. Without it, we’d starve. It got so bad that our cattle were starving, and along with them, so were we. Jefferson’s located so distant from any other community, that leaving was not really an option. I’m sure you saw when you drove here?”

“Yes,” I agreed. “Even today, Jefferson would be likened as being remote. The drive here was not unpleasant, but I needed to carry with me gas cans to make sure I’d be able to drive back. Certainly not a place one could visit with an electric vehicle.”

“If you say so. Anyway, the people of Jefferson didn’t know what to do. They had enough grain to make it through the winter that year, but there was nothing left for planting. That year the winter was really awful. The pass was closed for a month later than normal, which meant that it would be well past planting season before we could get through the mud to anyplace that sold grain. Back then roads were all just dirt and the mud they turned into would get deep enough that it could swallow a man whole if you weren’t careful.

“We were going to miss planting season. Wheat was the lifeblood of Jefferson. Without it our cattle couldn’t feed properly. The grass around here back then wasn’t very good, so we needed to give them a lot of wheat. And that doesn’t cover what the people needed. In short, we were looking at starvation. I’m told that even with portioning out that not everyone was going to make it.”

“That is a terrible tragedy in the making. But obviously Jefferson survived. So how did that miracle come about, Mrs Course?”

“Well, Jefferson was founded by a right proper man by the name of Abe Jefferson. Make sure you say it that way in your documentary. He wasn’t an Abraham – just Abe.”

“Duly noted. Is he one of your ancestors?”

Meridian snorted, which caused her to lose her balance in her chair. I was forced to stand and grab her by the shoulder before she tumbled off of her chair onto the old linoleum floor. “Thank you,” she mumbled as she leaned into the table and somehow gripped the edge with her abdomen muscles. “You know, it is one of my fears, to fall onto that floor. There are rats and they know when someone is helpless. Without someone to set me upright I’d be fearful of them nibbling on me.”

I noted that state of the kitchen floor, which was unsavory. Dirt and bits of food clung to the edges and corners of the room and I could see the imprints of a better part of a generation’s footwear in the grime obscuring the pattern. “I sympathize,” I said graciously as I sat down again.

“What did you ask again?”

“My question was regarding Abe Jefferson and your ancestry.”

“Oh, yes. Of course he’s one of my ancestors. This many generations and with very little new blood coming in, everyone is distantly related to everyone else. Don’t go making any assumptions, though. I know what you outsiders think of small town folk, but we’re well aware of the dangers of marrying your first or second cousin. The town council are very particular about distributing marriage licenses and conducts a genealogical exam before allowing someone to marry.”

“Yes. Hollywood does tend to be a bit condescending when it comes to rural communities. Have no worries. I plan to portray the people accurately in my review for the audience. Would you like another toke of your tobacco?”

“No, thank you. I’m good for the time being.”

“The stories I have had related to me tell that Abe Jefferson somehow found another source of grain. Every historical text I’ve found agrees on that fact. But the accounts are, shall we say, murky in the regards as to where that miraculous source came from. In fact, I found no details about the provider; at least nothing quantifiable as being authentic. Most of what is out there would be likened to wild innuendo and speculation. Everything from tales of a deal with the devil to lost settlers stumbling upon Jefferson who happened to have a few barrels of new grain.”

“Yes, well, you see that was purposeful. When my ancestors saw the results of that first year’s harvest, we became afraid that others would come when they heard. Abe did find another source of wheat in time for planting season, and I’m told that year’s crop was astonishing to the folks of Jefferson. They had more than they could grind, and the cattle grew fat. It wasn’t just that, though. Those cattle that we slaughtered for food were like manna sent from heaven itself. People couldn’t get enough. Come the next year we had sold all of the head of cattle we could afford to dispense with, but there was such a demand for more once people tasted the meat that we became worried about poachers. I know, that sounds silly when you consider the distance, but come the following year there were a few instances.

“After that it was decided that we would remain tight lipped about such matters. Good money was coming in, and we could afford to lose a few head to those thieves willing to make the long trek. But, you see, if others found out about the grain then they would come for that too. In particular, Abe was said to have gathered every head of every household in the local church come that next winter during Christmas Eve, and was said to have made every man there swear before Baby Jesus himself not to talk with outsiders about the grain. Back then, people were very religious and that scared them into remaining quiet whenever outsiders came to collect the head of cattle they had purchased. No one wanted to risk the wrath of an otherwise loving and kind God.”

“How interesting. Did they know the source of Abe’s miracle grain then?”

“They knew the story Abe told. It’s always been the same, or so my mother insisted. Abe himself was a righteous, god fearing man, and so was said to have been as truthful as the day was long. Since I’ve been born no one has ever said otherwise. Anyone who does say differently risks becoming outcast from within.”

“What does that mean, exactly, to become, ‘outcast from within?’”

“It means being ostracized. We’d still deal with you, but no one would speak with you unless necessary. More importantly, your wares wouldn’t be offered up for sale to outsiders. If you weren’t married already, then kiss any prospects of a marriage license being issued goodbye. No, sir, you do not badmouth Abe in this community.”

“Why not simply encourage them to leave then?”

“So that they wouldn’t talk about the grain, of course. The grain became the foundation of our community very quickly and no one wanted to risk the good life being provided to us.”

“All right then. But now you’re willing to talk to me about the source of Abe Jefferson’s miracle grain. Why is that? Don’t you risk being ostracized yourself?”

She laughed loudly then. It was not a pleasant sound, as her throat had become coated with the byproduct of her bad habits, causing it to quickly devolve into a sickly, phlegm filled cough. When I saw that this was not going to end anytime soon I quickly fetched a glass from the drying rack in order to fill it with water for her. Mrs Course nodded her thanks as I held the glass up to her lips for her to sip. “The doctor says I should quit smoking, but it’s just about the only thing remaining I enjoy,” she mumbled once she had regained control.
“I understand completely,” I said with much aplomb while seating myself again. By now I had nudged my equipment and chair around the circular kitchen table so that my response time if she were to tip again would be minimal. It was just the two of us for this interview, and I had come to realize that I would have to serve the role of both interviewer and caretaker for the time being. “In my viewpoint, quality of life is a personal matter and not a public one.”

“Exactly,” she agreed breathlessly. “And that’s why I’m going to tell you the secret behind Jefferson. It doesn’t matter if they decide to ostracize me anymore. Who exactly am I going to talk to anyway? My niece takes care of me most of the time, and she’s about the only soul I see other than my grandchildren. So it just doesn’t matter if people find out. Besides, it is well past time for people outside of our town to know the honest truth. That way something can be done about Abe’s legacy and the way it affects our community.”


I absorbed her words somberly while making a few notes on my laptop. “Legacy, you say? I thought a fruitful life was the legacy of your beloved town founder? People may not have grown extravagantly wealthy, but I was led to believe that everyone here lived a good and long life; one where they didn’t lack for need of anything certainly?”

Meridian alarmed me by laughing out loud again. Only this time she managed not to put herself in a precarious situation. I was relieved, as she certainly was not capable of holding herself upright, save by that curious trick with her stomach muscles. “Oh, people didn’t lack for the necessities. But the price we pay to this very day isn’t worth it.”

“And what price would that be exactly?”

“It has to do with the origin of the seed.”

“Ah. The very core of the mysterious grain. How logical and appropriate. Do go on.”

“I’ve only pieced together the truth over my life. At one point, when I could still walk, I managed to gain access to the town archives long enough to do some reading. What people said was truthful enough, but it lacked details. Important details.

“That spring, after it became apparent what catastrophe had been inflicted upon the people of Jefferson, Abe decided to take a walk. He was fond, I’m told, of the old biblical stories; especially the ones where holy men went out into the wilderness for long periods of time to speak with the Holy Father.

“He was gone for over a month, but not long enough for one of those, ‘forty days and forty nights,’ parables. The people here keep good and accurate records. It was thirty-seven days before Abe returned. And with him he brought the grain.

“People were skeptical at first. Abe brought back that grain in a strange vessel. It was described as being about the size of a modern coffee thermos. I saw drawings of it, and it looked like nothing made in that time period. It was said to be made of a piece of smooth and polished metal like no one had ever seen before. The mechanism for opening it involved pressing buttons that did not recess into the thing, much like keys on a modern electronic device, and it was said to have made strange sounds when opened or closed.”

“Some people were afraid when confronted with the strange container and asked Abe where he had discovered it. He told people that on the first day of that month he had been praying to God when a stranger had appeared in his campsite. The man was supposed to have been dressed fancily, like he had come from New York city or one of those other far off places. When questioned, Abe told the people that the man had offered him the vessel, which as you might suspect held the seed to our special grain.”

“A rather audacious tale. Did this man bear a name? And surely he didn’t give away such a precious resource without wanting something in recompense?”

Meridian nodded, her eyes distant in a way that I likened to how trauma victims relived their unsavory experiences. “Abe was told that for now it would be a gift, and that come next planting season that the man would return.”

“I am afraid that I fail to understand. Return? Why?”

“Well, you see, the wheat we grew was all right and proper, but its seed was not. Nothing grew the next year from what we planted. It wasn’t fertile. That quickly became apparent.
“People understandably began to panic. We had managed to outsmart the Four Horsemen once, but folks were still jittery from the experience. Abe seemed to understand and announced that he would return to where he met the man, whose name by the way, he didn’t know. People were doubtful, but they respected Abe, so they waited. This time when he reappeared, it was with a pack mule carrying all the grain we’d need for that year’s harvest. The container from the first year had been barely enough to scrape by, but now there was plenty to go around.

“Abe explained that the grain would not produce viable seed, and that the stranger was the only source for it. He called a meeting of the townsfolk to discuss the matter.”

“Because there was a price?”

“Yes. Of course there was a price. You don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and you don’t ever expect to get anything for free. At the time folks apparently didn’t remember that, because Abe said that all this man wanted was a meal. When asked, he said that it would be whenever this man showed up and he was to be served what he wanted. For this he would deliver the new grain seed yearly. People could not believe their good fortune and thought it was because they had been good and honest Christian folk.”

I paused at this point to sit back while taking into account Meridian Course’s condition. It was easy to believe that Mrs Course’s current state of being a quadriplegic was the result of eating too well for her own good. If one were to pass through the town of Jefferson, one would note an over propensity for obesity within their fair community. Being still very rural, adequate medical attention was undoubtedly an issue, as was getting proper medications. Not wanting to be rude towards my host, I jotted down several notes. I would do the audio for these insights at a later date and insert them in where appropriate.

“A rather generous person, this stranger. I can imagine there was much jubilation amongst such hard working people?”

“Oh yes, there was, and people went right to work planting the crops. And for a time things were good for the people of Jefferson. Soon people forgot about their agreement because this man did not show himself in Jefferson. In fact, it was a good twenty years before he would bring up the agreement, or so the town records say. But I have my doubts about the honesty of those records.”

“And why is that?”

“Well, it isn’t anything specific. I have very little to do with myself since I reached this state, so I spent a good amount of time reading the town’s records. My youngest grandson, you see, is just old enough to arrange the pages for me. He plays while I read and flips the pages when needed, or fetches me another book. He’s a good boy.

“It was the way things were written that made me suspicious. The tone changed over the years. I guess that could be due to people becoming accustomed to how things were, but every now and again there would be something cryptic written down regarding the agreement made. I also found sections that had been removed and written over. Back then that wasn’t easy to do, so it left obvious marks on the paper. They used some manner of bleach or other harsh chemical. In some cases you could sort of make out what had been written previously. After awhile those removed entries began to tell a different story.”

“How so?”

“Well, in particular, there were deaths. Of course that is to be expected, no matter how good things are. But someone was changing the details of those deaths. Whenever I noticed that an entry had been modified in the obituaries, they started using specific words. ‘Death from plentifulness,’ were the words they used. Even more peculiar, I often could make out Abe’s name in the erased areas, as if they were referring to the deal he had made with the stranger. And then there finally came the first entry of this actual stranger showing up to pursue his meal.”

“I assume they gave him a name then? I mean, he had to identify himself somehow?”

“That’s where it got really strange. Abe was still alive when the man appeared, although I suspect from those strange entries that he had visited prior. He in fact returned when Abe brought the seed. Abe was old by then, of course. Far older than the norm. People were lucky back then to make it past the age of thirty-five, and he was in his seventies. But everyone in Jefferson was living longer because the food was so plentiful and good. The cattle were fat and delicious, and the townsfolk had taken after them. Times were just good for everyone.


“I will add that that was the first and only entry I could find mentioning this man. There was an entire page torn out of the town’s history and the death roster was likewise missing for that year. It took me awhile of looking over the notes made by various people to figure it out, but it seems that there had been some sort of incident that year. Several people were no longer mentioned on the tax roles ever again, and there was never an accounting for when they died. In particular, they never named the man specifically. They used words like, ‘benefactor,’ instead.”

“Perhaps those people simply moved away? Young people in particular are often stricken with some sort of wanderlust.”

Meridian shook her head sadly. “No. Those were noted, as was proper. I should mention that Abe himself disappeared from the records. The next year his son, John Abeson, took over the duty of delivering the grain seed. It is my honest belief that Abe died that year the stranger first visited publicly to claim his meal. So did four others. I didn’t understand why people were covering it up, though. Or, maybe at the time I didn’t want to believe it.”

“Believe what?”

She took in a deep breath and became introspective. I witnessed a quiver to her lower lip as her eyes grew vacant and darted about. In particular, I noted that her eyes moved to the lower and right, which I knew indicated that she was accessing her memories. It’s a telltale sign that helps a person tell if another is being honest, or at least believes they are. If the eyes had gone to the left I would have known that Mrs Course was concocting some sort of fabrication to cover up the truth, although it could also indicate that she might be trying to come up with a different way to present the facts.

“I never saw another notation indicating this stranger’s return directly, but I did find signs that he came back to visit. It took awhile, but the pattern was there if you knew where to look for it.”

I, of course, noticed that she had evaded answering my last question. “A pattern, you say?”

“Yes, sir. Every twelve years thereafter there would be five mysterious deaths. They happened at the same time of year every time, and they were all what were otherwise believed to be people in the best years of their lives. They would always have the same notation. Death from plentifulness, or sometimes death by plentifulness.”

“Odd. But surely it can’t be the same person after all of this time? He would be well past a century and a half in age by now, which is impossible.”

“Maybe it’s his heirs? I can’t be certain. But I am convinced that every twelve years someone has been visiting Jefferson to be delivered their meal without fail.”

“And these strange notations for the cause of death? What do you believe those indicate?”

Meridian leaned in at this point, using that trick with her muscles to grip the table’s edge. “I’m sixty-five years old, sir. I’ve been around for several of these visitations, although I never saw or heard of the man directly. The first time was when I was five years of age. My grandfather died that year. My grandmother told me that his heart had given out while working the fields, but his funeral casket had been closed when we laid him to rest. So were the four other individuals who died that spring. At the time I was too young to be suspicious, and I was of course grieving for my beloved grandfather. He was a good and generous man who was beloved by everyone.

“But when I looked up my grandfather’s death record, it was listed like the others. Death from plentifulness.”

“If I am doing my math properly, from what you say, you then would have been here for four other visitations? I assume there were five deaths every spring of those years?”

“Yes,” she sighed. “I looked them all up. Death from plentifulness was what their records said, which it turns out wasn’t what people were told. I remember Donald Robertson’s death in particular. They explained his casket being closed due to a thresher accident. My friend Mary supposedly got trampled by cattle during the next cycle. All told, over two dozen of my friends and family have been taken by this man since I’ve been alive.”

“This year would be another in the cycle, would it not?”

“Yes, sir, it is. And I know he’s here again. The grain seed was brought in by Abe’s great, great, great grandson just yesterday. I’ve had my kin keeping their eyes open for any strangers visiting. But it’s not that easy to do. We don’t have much traffic here, but people do drive to and from Jefferson nowadays. There’s postal workers, vendors, a few who make a long drive for their jobs away from the town, and of course the UPS bringing people their packages from Amazon. It’s not an easy task to see one new face in particular when people are always coming and going, even if most of them are in fact known.”

My eyes were narrowed now, and I was feeling more than a little disgruntled. This interview was troubling me considerably, to say the least. I was going to have to get rather inventive with the editing. Meridian Course’s wild tale was not appropriate for my audience. I tapped off the recording app on the laptop, although I was certain that Meridian remained unaware.
“Surely you have some sort of theory as to what’s been going on for all of these decades? I’d like to hear that theory, Mrs Course.”

She looked up into my eyes then. It was perhaps the first time she had met my gaze fully since my arrival. That irregularity to her eyes seemed to have vanished and now appeared blue to me. A trick of the lighting earlier perhaps? Blue eyes have always struck me throughout my long life as being the most capable of expression. Something about the color allowed the speaker to convey emotions better, or at least that’s the way it has always worked for me. I suppose there might be a prejudice there that affects my decision making. It certainly was with this woman.

“I think they get eaten,” she whispered.

“I see,” I responded after a long pause. I was not at all pleased by this development. I had been correct to suspect that matters were not going according to script. “A rather ghoulish theory. Have you shared this concern with others?”

“I tried. Oh, good God, I have tried, mister. My niece won’t hear of it. I’ve spoken to her at great lengths with what I am convinced is fact. The people of Jefferson made an unwitting deal with the Devil himself, sir, and he comes back every twelve years. He waited at first until we were hooked, like those drug dealers I read about. Got the people of Jefferson good and fat. Let the meat get good and juicy as we got fattened up by his grain. That’s why he waited a generation before he showed himself publicly, I’m convinced of it. Once the cattle were prepared, he took those he deemed to have the best cuts of meat.” By now there were tears clogging up her vision. Without the ability to dab at her eyes, the tears were making it difficult for her to see properly.

“Yes, I can see why your niece would be distressed by your hypothesis,” I said. Something about my tone of voice must have alerted Mrs Course at this point, for she began to look alarmed. I suppose it might have triggered a long dormant memory. Even though Meridian had not known it when I arrived to conduct my interview, she and I had in fact stood shoulder-to-shoulder before on several funerary occasions.

I purposefully reached across the table and grabbed her head with one hand. I made certain to cover the woman’s mouth with my palm so that no one who happened to be nearby might hear her scream. It was a simple motion I made as I gripped her shoulder with my other strong and capable hand. In fact, it was the same technique used to snap the neck of a chicken.

Very gently I laid the poor woman’s head on the table. I kept it angled so that Meridian could see me in her dying moments. I had maybe five seconds before the oxygen to the woman’s brain became insufficient for her to be cognizant of her environment.

I in fact did not want the woman to suffer unnecessarily. I believe in animal’s rights, you see. Just because our nutritional needs require us to eat other beings doesn’t mean they need to suffer. That’s why I believe in the free-range method when it comes to animal agriculture. “I must thank you for the interview, Mrs Course. I’ll wait until your niece returns, of course, before I see myself out. We need to have a word, you see.”

Inhaling deeply, I closed my laptop lid and tidied up. I would need to talk with the town council soon about how I wished my meal prepared. A pity, though. I preferred a well roasted leg above all else.

Credit: N. Ravenel Bard

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