FLAPPERHOUSE Podcast #1 + an Excerpt from “The Wendigo Goes Home” – Fiction by Sara Dobie Bauer

If you haven’t already heard, the very first FLAPPERHOUSE Podcast has taken to the air! This 30-minute episode features an interview with the incomparable Sara Dobie Bauer, where she reads an excerpt from “The Wendigo Goes Home,” her contribution to our Winter 2016 issue. The podcast is below, and the text of the excerpt is below that, if you’d care to read along…

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CLEVE PACKER PRIDED HIMSELF ON EATING ONLY PEOPLE WHO WERE ABOUT TO DIE. Over his hundred and fifty years of cannibalism, he’d evolved not only his senses but his morality.

While traveling through northern Ohio, he smelled death on a large young woman with blond hair and expensive shoes. The scent was subtle. She wasn’t the one dying, but someone close to her. Cleve approached and made conversation at the local coffee shop. She was happy to oblige, Cleve looking so tall and handsome in his best brown suit.

Her name was Bree Shepherd, the manager of a high-end clothing store in Cleveland, single but looking. She liked to talk about herself, her family. Her mother was going through some sort of aging crisis, embracing hot yoga and spin at her local gym. Bree said she even suspected her mother of shopping in the juniors section at JC Penney, all in an effort to “stay young forever.” Her dad was a retired lawyer who now spent most of his time reading murder mysteries and pretending he would one day write a novel. There was the elder sister, Bianca, who was married with three children. Bree talked most about her little brother: poor Blake, the “hopeless homosexual”—perpetually single, despite his good looks and pleasant, albeit quiet, demeanor. She said he studied science at the nearby university.

Cleve was careful to say very little about himself, other than that he was new in town. He was always new in town.

After a refill, Bree invited him for a late summer bonfire at her parents’ house where there would be extended family and friends, and “Oh, won’t it be nice for you to meet new people in your new city!”

When they parted, she waved and carried the smell of death down a sidewalk lined with leafy trees at full tilt August green. In her absence, the air smelled of coffee grounds and oil from nearby leaking cars.

The sick person could be anyone, really, but Cleve suspected he would meet that person if he stuck close to cheerful Bree Shepherd. Perhaps at the bonfire, filled, she said, with so many family and friends.

It had been weeks since his last feast; nothing satisfactory, just an old woman in a lonely house that smelled of dishwasher soap and Band-Aids. He preferred younger meat. In the early 1900s, there were all sorts of diseases that sprung up and took people by the dozens. Such a holiday, back then! But such feasts were rare nowadays, with advances in medicine and preventative treatment. Still, there was hope for the bonfire—hope for a good, hot meal.

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The Shepherd house was less house, more estate: two stories with a wrap-around white front porch, navy blue siding, and a modernized tin roof that reflected the blue sky at sunset. Bree introduced Cleve around to the dozens of guests, all shapes and ages. The house smelled of roasting meat, but still, beneath the body odor and fruit-forward wine, there wafted the scent of death.

Cleve wandered, corner-to-corner, with his glass of wine, sniffing. In that chair, an echo of decay… just by the window, a shadow of illness … on the back door, a reeking handprint.

He recognized the scent: cancer.

Cleve placed his own enormous hand on the back door and took a deep breath—ah, illness, the delicious smell of a foreshadowed feast.

“Smells good, doesn’t it?” Bree touched his shoulder. “Dad’s roasting a pig out back. I’ll show you.”

Now that he’d caught the scent, Cleve refused to let go. He followed the girl outside and nodded with disinterest at the dead-eyed pig on the spit. Bits of marinade dripped from its flesh and hissed in the fire below. A group of people crowded around a large fire pit in the midst of towering oaks, leaves turned black by falling night. Cleve stepped to the edge of the fire where the younger people stood. They laughed with their bottles of beer—women in light, summer dresses, and men in t-shirts.

The scent was stronger there.

Cleve’s mouth watered.

He saw the one young man in a sweater. Despite the summer heat, the raging fire, he looked cold. His thin shoulders hunched forward as he took a gulp of beer and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He smiled when addressed. He smiled and pretended, but he knew; the young man in the sweater knew he was dying, but it was clear no one else did.  No one looked at him with pity. People didn’t make a point to talk to the dying man, nor did they avoid him. His illness was his secret—his and Cleve’s.

The young man in the sweater looked up when he felt Cleve looking. He blinked twice: huge, light eyes with a dot of reflected fire in the center. The man bit his bottom lip and smiled at Cleve, but stopped abruptly and headed for a black farmhouse in the back corner of the yard.

 Cleve followed…

For the diabolical conclusion of “The Wendigo Goes Home,” get your claws on a copy of FLAPPERHOUSE #8…

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Sara-Dobie-BauerSARA DOBIE BAUER is a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Prize. She lives with her husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she would really like to live in a Tim Burton film. Red Moon Romance will publish her novel, BITE SOMEBODY, in 2016. Read more about Sara at http://saradobie.wordpress.com or find her on Twitter @SaraDobie.

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