The sun is bright outside in a yard full of flowers. Pass through the shaded sunroom into the back of the house and step up into the kitchen. Gleaming white porcelain and faded wallpaper sprouts copper moulds in the shapes of fish and pineapples. Mary and Jesus live here. Their pictures are on the wall. The sacred heart burns bright behind the glass below the sign of the benediction. Palm leaves valance the kitchen doors.
There’s ice-cold milk in glass bottles and fresh bread from the nearby bakery. The sharp tang of homemade garlic dills mingle with the salty aroma of chicken soup simmering on the gas stove. The hallway floor is waxed to a high sheen, perfect for sliding. Listen to the tick tock of the mantel clock, the dial a yellow faded face that watches. The shrill ring of the old black dial phone shatters the heavy air. Rest a hand on it to feel its weight, its chill and its foreign hardness. Taste the forbidden sweetness of the hard candies hidden in the dish shaped like a lady that sits on the table in the living room. Silent, heart stopped, breath stilled, feel the caress of a sinister regard.
Cold black, empty eyes set deep in the caiman’s leather dry head. He lies far from home, a wizened and arid husk. Needle sharp teeth fashioned for the flash of bright silver scales and the cold-hot wine of life will now only taste the dregs of dust. He will never know the cool waters of the bayou again, relegated now to keeping guard from a narrow darkened perch on the television room shelf.