Steven Shinder

Lemons Loom Like Rain

“Will he still be living with you next year?”

“I believe so. He said he'd stay in the area.” That part was true, though Randy was not certain whether Ted would remain at the same apartment itself after graduation. If anything, his flatmates could move out, and Randy could act like he would be well off enough to remain in the apartment. If it were just Randy there, Mathis would only go after him.

It's not assisted suicide if I don't ask him to kill me, he tried reasoning with himself, looking for loopholes in whatever laws of a possible afterlife there might have been.

After filling out the form, Randy made eye contact with Mathis and tried not to stare at the scar on his left eyelid. Debt-filled Randy thought he could sense a doubtful vibe coming from Mathis, so he was surprised by the subsequent smile and response.

“Perfect.” Mathis grabbed the papers. “Looks like we have a deal. Now, I'm gonna need a photo.” Mathis took out his phone and snapped a photo before Randy could react. Then Mathis pulled a suitcase out from under his side of the desk. He gave it to Randy, who opened it. There were stacks of hundred dollar bills. Randy counted them, and they added up to twenty grand.

“We all good, then?” Randy asked, putting the bills in the coat pocket that did not contain the knives.

“Oh, Randy, Randy, Randy.” Mathis shook his head. “We are not 'all good.' An ancient evil resides within each of us. Anyone can have the urge to hurt others, and themselves. If we were completely bereft of this ancient evil, would we really be ourselves?”

Mathis paused, and Randy could see that he was awaiting an answer. He tried to come up with something clever to seem unfazed.

“ we keep the darkness contained is what shapes us. One must shape oneself against their shadow rather than be shaped by the shadow. It sticks to you, but you can control where it goes.”

“Shadows can loom larger than the progenitor.”

“They're not solid, though.”

“But they are invincible. When the person becomes a body, the shadow remains. And even when the remains decompose, the shadows linger as stealthy particles in the air. Are you a shadow in your group of friends?”

“I am part of them.”

“Soon, you'll have to part from them.”

Mathis opened his drawer and took out a knife. Then he took out a whole lemon.

“What are you doing?” Randy asked, ready to reach for the knives in his trench coat pocket with one hand and gripping the suitcase handle with the other.

“Showing you.” Mathis used the knife to cut the lemon into slices. “One world gets fractured. Friendships get fractured. All friendships die. The eye is selfish, trying to see what it hopes is there. So bring on the pain. Lemons loom like rain.”

“Is this the part where you make some cheeky Fruit of the Loom joke?”

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