“I buy and make only the finest in novelties,’’ Mr. Chan said. “Making them look authentic takes painstaking skill.’’
The mailman put the bag back in the box. “I’m throwing a Halloween party. Do you know a caterer who makes food that looks gruesome but is edible and tastes good?’’
Mr. Chan drummed the top of the box with his fingers. “I’m not a caterer but I just happen to be expecting a delivery of items that could make some finger foods that would be a hit at a Halloween party.’’
“Just as long as they’re not real fingers,’’ the mailman said with a chuckle.
“Now that would be a Halloween treat, wouldn’t it?’’
“As you know, Halloween is on Saturday,’’ the mailman said. “I’ll make your shop my last stop of the day and pick up the food then, okay?’’
“Sure,’’ Mr. Chan said.
The mailman left the shop.
Mr. Chan opened the box from the Congo. Inside were six jars of fingers packed like sardines.
Too Much Of Anything Will Kill You
Thick fog filled the alleyway. Mr. Chan swung his cane at the rats that scurried across the cobblestones. As he passed a dumpster he heard growling. He turned his head and saw Wanda squatting against a wall. She was wearing a bra and panties that were stained with blood and nylons that were dirty and shredded. Her hair was matted and bits of trash was entangled in it. She was grasping her husband’s mustache and upper lip in her left hand. Her face was covered in dried blood. Drool ran down her chin. Her eyes were glazed over.
“Wanda, where’s Frank?’’ Mr. Chan asked, keeping his distance.
She snapped her teeth and growled.
He went to his shop door, took out his keys, and opened it. The bell didn’t tinkle. He looked up and saw that it was gone. He turned on the lights and quickly took off his coat and hat and hung them on the coat rack. He hurried to aisle two and grabbed a crossbow and arrow from a shelf of assorted weapons. When he returned to the counter, Wanda was standing in the doorway. Pee was running down her leg. Her laughter sounded like that of a hyena.
Mr. Chan loaded the arrow onto the crossbow, aimed it at Wanda, and shot the arrow into the middle of her forehead.
She stood absolutely still for a moment and then fell forward onto the shop floor.
He went to her and knelt down by her head. The strong scent of the potion he had sold the couple rose from her open mouth.
“Too much of anything will kill you,’’ he said. He yanked the arrow out of her head.
He closed the door and dragged her to the laboratory. Just as he laid her on the laboratory floor, the bell tinkled, but the sound came from much closer. He threw his plastic apron over her and went out and closed the door behind him. The bell tinkled again. He looked over and saw it hanging on the iron maiden. He took it down and held it in the palm of his hand and stared it.
“I wonder if you could help me?’’
Surprised, Mr. Chan whirled about. Standing at the end of the middle aisle was a very pretty young woman with long blonde hair.
He gained his composure. “Certainly, what can I do for you?’’
“I was looking for a book on how to conduct a séance,’’ she said, smiling.
“Have you ever done that before?’’ he asked.
“No, we’re doing it as a party game for Halloween.’’
He passed the bell from one hand, and then back again. “Summoning the dead should never be taken lightly,’’ he said.
“Do you believe it can actually be done?’’
“Some of my customers do.’’ He gazed at her face. “You look familiar. Have you been in this shop before?’’
“No, I was told about it by a friend. He said you had the best Halloween novelties and occult supplies in the city.’’