:: Article

Gros Homard

By Alice Ash.

I notice that a light moss has begun to form on my rockery, the spot where I prefer to spend my nights. I am surprised when you do not see it, my love, as the thin grey curtain of filth is pulled slowly to obscure my view of your living quarters, where you used to spend your days in stimulating thought, writing, and playing host to your interesting friends who would coo over my tank and marvel when I waltzed, sometimes leaping clear of the water, clicking my ginger claws.

But now it’s just Bosie, Bosie, Bosie, that’s all I ever hear. You pay men to bring his hideous furniture up the stairs, and later you even strip the wallpaper, because Bosie claims that incarnadine is a trigger for his terrible migraines. Bosie brings all kinds of pots and pans in a large suitcase that he unpacks like a visiting doctor, laying out his tools of destruction, his carving apparatuses, a giant meat fork and several fileting knives. He makes strange smells with his exotic cooking, throwing flesh into steaming pans and staring straight at me while removing eyes, grey and pearly like stars; and tearing little orange legs and ginger antennae, which are as fine as strands of hair. I can hardly believe that you approve of these gruesome suppers, but I see you, bibbed and slobbering a little.

‘Simply delicious, Bo-bo,’ you simper, pink slather shining on your beautiful chin.

In better days, you would take me out on little trips, a blue silk leash attached gently around my middle (although this delicate ribbon was more of an affectionate decoration- you knew that I would never try to escape). I scuttled alongside you, and we laughed at other men, standing embarrassed with little bags full of dog poop, or enraged, their suits covered in threads of slobber. And I was just like a lady with my many feet, delicate and prim, able to step carefully over messes on the street, to hold up one of my fine claws as a gesture of my pride, my joy at being seen with you. There were times when you would even take me to special events- do you remember that woman with the giant sequined paunch, the absurdly loud voice; she mistook me for a handbag and then dropped her glass, red wine splashing the front of her stockings like drops of blood: ‘A lobster!’ You held me, your large, gentle hands sheltering me, and we laughed together.

But then: Bosie.

‘I don’t understand your interest in that fat homard,’ Bosie says; he is sprawled across your chaise longue, and he smokes a moss green cigarette with a golden filter. You are slumped in your pyjamas, grabbing clumsily at pieces of French toast, sometimes disappearing a slice without even seeming to chew. I notice that your face is becoming very sallow, very jowly, my love.

The idiot grins.

‘I’d prefer a Doberman,’ he tells you, ‘they really are such dear little things. We could take a Doberman with us in the car,’ he continues, coyly, ‘Maybe it’s time for that little Devon trip you talked about.’

And this was when things began to change swiftly, although I never thought you could be so impressionable, so easily swayed. I watch how you become frenzied, even in your ill health, chasing Bosie around with presents, ridiculous gifts, and today, a plate of eggs. I have never seen you make eggs for anyone before, and Bosie just looks at you, dips his fork into the perfect yolk. ‘How nice,’ he says. He puts down the fork and sighs, starts to read the paper; but you do not reach for your book, as you usually do at breakfast time; you just stare at him. I watch you examining Bosie’s face, as if those dumb boiled cheeks, his wet, fleshy mouth, as if these mediocre features are more interesting than any book you’ve ever read. And in the nighttime, Bosie floats around the rooms, like a ghostly jellyfish in his nightshirt, picking things up and examining with his greedy little eyes- I saw him look for a watermark on your Faberge; I saw him!

But my tank is very misty now. I am not one to complain, but when the grey mist turns to green, and my hunger becomes sharp, no longer just grumbling, I realise, good god, how long has it been since you visited my home? You used to drop treats onto the surface of the water, and I would dance with gratitude and eat, even when I became full (and Bosie won’t even finish his eggs). It is almost like you are punishing me, although I swear, it was he who provoked me, turning me onto my back, the indignity! He tickled my tummy, exposed my tender parts, and I nipped him, only once! I did not even draw blood.

The fog creeps and life becomes a rotten vision, as I watch your blurred frame grow fatter, your clothes more slovenly. You still haven’t made that little trip to Devon, although Bosie parades about in summer outfits, straw hats and tight-fitting melba-coloured trousers. Bosie, Bosie, Bosie; he grows brighter every day! He prances in this newly purchased wardrobe and eats the rich food (and what was that pink flesh I saw you consuming the other night?), seeming to grow like a cruel belladonna towards the sun: les fleurs du mal. And now I wait behind the stack of books that Bosie has carefully placed in front of my tank, the hunting jacket that he draped over my roof; splatters of crimson blood still decorating the sleeve (and you know that I cannot stand violence). I still lounge atop my dirty rockery throne while you and Bosie sleep, but the incubus comes and sits upon my heart, and I wake shaking, bashing against the glass. When I open my pearly eyes, still near-blinded by the cruel screen covering my views, I think myself asleep, or dead, lost in the darkness of forever, and you-.

Here he comes now, that wretch; he sounds excited, demanding that you wake from your afternoon snooze. I see a giant dark shape ambling around amongst the furniture, and then, most suddenly, he is aside the tank- this devil, a dull, groaning growl! Eyes rolling in his thick skull, a giant wet tongue reaches out and quickly pulls inside, a slick of spittle draped over the edge of my home, it runs down the dirty glass, and then, the barking continues until Bosie, Bosie, gives him a treat, a giant grey bone that he chews aside my glass house. I am trying to dig a trench beneath the muck that has been left of my floor, the slivers of food that have escaped me, piles of my own excrement (the humiliation!), and as I do so, I hear your voice, cooing over the hound. My legs are becoming tired already because, as you know, I am delicate. It was you that once said you would commission tiny shoes for my pointed toes.

The dog continues to screech as Bosie prepares his cooking tools, and I notice a pot, already bouncing on the hob. You sprawl, complacent and helpless, wearing a bib, your shirt unbuttoned, slippers worn and dirty. You seem to watch the scene like a visitor; a spectator in your own life, and the air becomes very quiet, even the hound lies down. Bosie silently watches the bubbling pan.

You ask Bosie, your Bo-Bo, ‘What’s for supper this evening, darling?’ and Bosie interrupts his meditation over the wrathful waters to reply, ‘Gros Homard,’ stealthily picking up his largest knife.

Gros Homard?’ you repeat, and there is a quick flicker of confusion before you slump back into your complacency. ‘Lovely,’ you murmur, slapping your lips together.

I can see the dog yawning, and you lean back in your chair, reaching for the damp flannel that Bosie has prepared for you, draping it across your tired eyes. You look so relaxed, as you retire back into your snooze, and soon, my love, your dinner will be served.

Alice Ash is a new writer from Brighton, UK. Alice’s story ‘Eggs’ was longlisted for the 2019 Galley Beggar Prize, and her writing has been featured in Hotel, The TLS, Mslexia, Popshot Quarterly and Galavant Literary Journal, amongst others. Alice is represented by United Agents and is currently finishing her first collection, Paradise Block.

Nancy is an artist and musician. (Instagram: @hihelloitsnancy)


First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, August 6th, 2019.