Rehearsals for the Verbal Arts festival continue, and while I try and figure out the pensive serenity that is Jaded Jesus, in another writer’s play…other writers are reading my monologues. I’m thinking of honing them, cutting the fat, and getting them ready to submit somewhere. They’re a set. Three monologues about three separate women who don’t really know each other…but end up connected. Here’s the first. Her name is Clara. Be nice. She’s a bit shy and awkward.

Requiem for the Taste Buds
©Joshua Alan Doetsch

What can I say? They caught me. It’s funny; usually I’m never even noticed. I’m sorry, how do we begin? I’m never comfortable with these things. They don’t seem all that productive. Who really cares whether I think that blob of ink looks like a hummingbird or Satan riding to Earth on a chariot pulled by Martha Stewart in an apocalyptic vision of the future?

Just keep talking? Okay.

It’s certainly strange. Not Hannibal Lector, hello Clarice, strange, but bizarre enough that I’m talking to you.

How do I get in? I just sneak in and mingle with strangers. It’s easy getting in.

Why? That’s the big question. Morbid curiosity of death? Not really. There’s so many people to talk to, and I’m so…have you ever heard of the Vegetarian Cannibal? He’s in the tabloids. Apparently some guy wanted to be a cannibal, absorb the lives of people or something. The problem was he’s a vegetarian, so he’d murder people and bury them in his garden and then eat the fertilized vegetables.

That’s if you believe those crazy tabloids.

My family? I don’t really have a family to come home to; I don’t even have a pet. I tried keeping one of those un-killable cacti once.

It died.

But I have a great home. It’s all nice and neat, hardly looks lived in. My cupboards are full of those great new single soups. You just pop one in the microwave and eat it over the sink, alone.

They don’t taste very good.

The food at a funeral is good though. Wedding banquets and Labor Day barbecues have nothing on a good funeral feast. Maybe…maybe that’s why I go, for the food.

There are so many funerals. I just look them up and sneak right in.

Friends? I really don’t…I mean I try…you know all those nine-hundred numbers they advertise late at night? I called one of those. Yeah, when the policeman gave me my one phone call…well, I didn’t have anyone to call…just dialed the first thing that came to my head.

I watch a lot of late night TV.

Well this girl answers and says her name is Candy. I say my name is Clara. Then she says she’s wearing a sheer thong. I say I’m wearing a hand-me-down sweater from my grandmother who was put into a home when she went insane and started throwing cats at people.

She sounded a little confused so I explained that I was calling from a police station. She asked me to bend over so she could use the handcuffs. I said I didn’t have any. I asked if she had ever heard of the Vegetarian Cannibal.

She hung up.

What’s the first funeral I remember? I don’t see what…alright. It…it was my father’s funeral. I was just a little girl. My mom didn’t spend much time with me that day, she was…you know they had the best fried chicken at that funeral! You want the recipe? You see you take the batter and…

What? I…I can’t quite say why funeral food’s so good. The taste buds…sing a requiem for the deceased. Sometimes it’s subdued and respectful, mourning a loss, other times it’s spicy and festive, celebrating a life. You look at the lifeless husk in the casket and you think if you just keep breathing, keep eating, keep living, your turn won’t come.

It tastes like…salvation. You eat around people mourning death and you start to appreciate your own life. It becomes a meal of rebirth. You say to yourself, I’m going to finish this food and walk away changed for the better. This time around I’ll be more productive. I’ll learn to play an instrument. I’ll meet new people and get out.

I’ll floss.

The feeling fades. I go from funeral to funeral trying to recapture it. Sitting at home, looking at Spunky’s empty cactus bowl, I really just feel one thing.