It was a dark and stormy night: the perfect night for a murder.
Well, perhaps not a murder, but was a perfect night to break into someone’s house anyway, thought Trey as he crept along the side of the three-story apartment, shivering in his wet T-shirt and sweatpants. He needed money desperately or the landlord would kick him out into the streets again, the streets with which he was all too familiar. Shaking the droplets from his dark hair, he gazed up at the small kitchen window. Naturally, the front door was locked—people weren’t stupid in these parts of Kansas City—but the window was cracked and covered in duct tape, creating the perfect entryway. Trey easily shattered the greasy glass with his flashlight and heaved himself inside.
Pungent darkness greeted him- the family must have owned a cat. Cautiously he lowered himself to the counter; his feet touched the chipped linoleum just as a particularly large piece of glass ground into his palm. He cursed. Warm red liquid oozed down his bare arm; he licked at it, tongue shuddering at the rusty flavor. Never mind—there was work to be done, and fast. He opened a drawer and started rifling through it, searching for jewelry, silverware, or anything he could hock for a decent price at the local pawn. A few forks, a rusty cigarette lighter, and random cheap items greeted him with anticlimactic luster. Frustrated, he headed for the living room, hoping to find a few movies or a DVD player. Without warning, something hard caught his foot and sent him reeling for balance; he swore indulgently, rubbing his bruised toe.
“Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to swear?”
Trey whirled, his heart squeezing up into his throat. His flashlight danced along the scuffed floor, to the cabinets, to the broken window, and back again. “Who said that?” he growled in his toughest voice. “Come out or I’ll kill you.”
“You wouldn’t want to kill me.”
The voice was low and thin; he couldn’t determine the sex. Trey fingered the pistol at his hip, the muscles in his jaw tightening. “Don’t underestimate me, pal. People who insult my mother don’t live long. Now show yourself, or I’ll tear this room apart.”
“I’m right behind you.”
Trey clenched his fist, fury seething behind his grinding teeth. “Shut up! There’s no one behind me and you know it…” Trey felt his eyes drawn to the countertop, littered with trash and various foodstuffs, and found himself face-to-face with a large yellow onion sitting amid a jumble of half-full medicine bottles. Puzzled, he stared at it for a second and continued his visual search.
“I’m right here,” said the voice. “On the counter.”
Trey scowled. “Cut the double-talk. All I can see is an onion.”
“Well,” said the onion, “what did you expect?”
Trey rubbed a grimy hand across his eyes. “I can’t believe this,” he muttered. “I must have smoked something funky last night…”
“Didn’t your mother ever tell you that smoking is bad for your health?” inquired the vegetable.
“Shut up,” Trey groaned. “I can’t believe this. I’m talking to an onion.”
“What’s so unbelievable about that?” the onion inquired. Trey shot it an evil glare. “So, you’ve never talked to an onion,” it continued in its low, thin voice. “And you think that’s crazy just because you’ve never done it?”
“I don’t think anyone has talked to a vegetable outside of a psycho ward,” Trey hissed.
“Well,” replied the onion, “you’ve obviously never won the lottery before. Do you think that’s crazy, because you’ve never done it?”
“Heck, no,” Trey snapped. “But this is completely absurd!”
“Some people might say that about skydiving,” the onion continued. “But have you ever tried it?”
The man scowled darkly. “Quit spewing logic. You sound like an organic Socrates. Now be a good little veggie and leave me alone. All I want is a few bucks to hold me over until the next rent is due.”
“Coming through the door would have been easier,” the onion said. “There’s Band-Aids in the bathroom if you need one for your hand.”
“The door was locked,” snarled Trey, absently licking his wound. “And besides, real men make dramatic entrances.”
“Oh,” said the onion. “So you’re a real man. Didn’t your mother ever tell you that stealing is breaking the law?”
Trey raised his head, his dark eyes flashing. “If you must know, you dumb little vegetable, I don’t remember my mother. She died when I was three.”
“I see,” the onion mused. “Have you been making these illegal dramatic entrances your whole life?”
“On and off,” Trey replied. “Sometimes I hijack a Cadillac or two.”
“Well,” said the onion, “I think you’d better go home now and leave these people alone.”
“Why should I listen to you?” Trey growled. “You’re just an onion.”
“I may be just a vegetable, but trust me—you wouldn’t want anything from here anyway. You could do me a little favor by taking those big knives in the block there, though. I’ve seen four of my siblings succumb to them over the past week. They’d bring you a decent profit on eBay.”
Trey nodded, suddenly finding himself smiling for reasons he couldn’t understand. He carefully placed the knives in his backpack and turned once again to the onion. “You’re right—I should go. Do…do you want to come with me?”
“No, thank you,” replied the onion. “I’ll be moldy in a few days, anyway. There’s not much practical use for an onion in this world but to be eaten.”
Nodding, Trey gingerly climbed onto the counter again and made his way towards the broken window. “I’ll send a check to pay for the window, maybe, when I scrape up enough cash.”
“Don’t,” said the onion. “They’ll probably just use it to buy new knives. But you could offer to mow the lawn—heaven knows it needs it.”
“I will,” said Trey. “Thanks, little pal.” He waited a few seconds for a response, but heard nothing and made his way outside again into the spitting rain.
As his wet sneakers scraped the pavement, he thought but wasn’t quite sure he heard a low, thin voice whisper, “Your mother would be proud.”