The Man Who Came to Supper

By Joseph Logsdon

Ralph Norton had just moved to a new neighborhood. Ralph tried his best to fit in, but at the end of the day, he was still an outsider. He was lonely, so lonely that he was contemplating suicide. Everyone was suspicious of him, even if they pretended otherwise. Still, there was one man who wasn't afraid to talk to Ralph. One afternoon, Ralph was invited to have dinner with George Lusby. George Lusby was, believe it or not, a local celebrity. Everyone, no matter how judgmental, loved George. He was an honest man, but could he win the admiration of Ralph Norton?

"You prepared a nice meal, I must say," Ralph stated as he consumed his fried chicken.

"Why, thank you, that means an awful lot," George stated as he sipped his coffee.

"Say, George, why did you invite me over, anyway?"

"Well, neighbors are meant to be friendly, aren't they?"

"You might be friendly, but everyone else, for whatever reason, doesn't like me. I mean, have I done something wrong? Is there some local custom that I don't know about? You people act as if I were some kind of criminal. Well, even if I were, that still doesn't give them the right to treat me like dirt, does it?"

"Trust me, don't take these things personally. I can assure you, once you've lived here long enough, they'll warm up to you. Believe me, when I first moved here, they felt the same way. You know, it's almost like they're afraid of something. Well, I wouldn't worry about it too much, okay?"

"Yeah, I guess you're right," Ralph stated.

"Tell me, Ralph, what line of work are you in?"

"Advertising," Ralph answered.

"Hey, what a coincidence, my son was in the advertising business. He was a hard worker, until he got fired," George stated.

"Why did he get fired?"

"I don't know, something about misplacing some money," George answered.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Ralph stated.

"He's dead, I'm afraid. Maybe, if I had been there, I could've gotten his job back for him. You see, Ralph, he took his own life. The sad part is, he didn't even bother to talk to me about it. He was alive one day, dead the next," George whimpered.

"Well, at least we have one thing in common," Ralph stated.

"What's that?"

"About a month ago, my son went missing, I haven't seen him since. The police are looking for him, but I don't think they'll find anything. Somehow, even though I can't be sure, I know he's dead. Strange, isn't it?"

"Is that why you moved here?"

"What do you mean?"

"Typically, when someone has suffered tragedy, they think about moving," George stated.

"That had something to do with it, I guess," Ralph stated.

"Do you miss him?"

"He was all I had," Ralph whimpered.

"Then you understand how it feels, don't you?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Tell me, Ralph, do you recognize my last name at all?"

"Should I?"

"Do you remember a man named Tony Lusby?"

"What is this, an interrogation?"

"I'm just curious, that's all," George stated.

"Well, now that you mention it, I did have a secretary named Tony. He was a good man, but like most people, he didn't have patience. One morning, when I walked into the office, I caught him stealing money from the front desk. No one, and I mean no one, steals from me. Try to understand, I had to let him go. If he'd stayed, who knows, he might've taken more money," Ralph stated.

"He was my son," George stated.

"Look, I'm sorry about what happened to him, but you can't blame me for that, can you? He was robbing me, for Christ's sake!"

"Enough excuses," George stated.

"Mr. Lusby, if you don't mind, I'll be leaving," Ralph stated as he got out of his chair.

"Go ahead, I won't stop you. Still, before you go, would you mind answering one question?"

"Sure, if it will get me out of here faster," Ralph stated.

"How was the chicken?"

"What do you mean, how was the chicken?"

"Did you like it?"

"It was fine, I guess," Ralph answered.

"I'm glad, because I prepared it myself, after all. Would you like to know what was in it?"

"Where are you going with this?"

"I cooked him not once, not twice, but three times. He was delicious, I must say. Did you find him delicious, Ralph?"

"Are you saying, that all this time, I was eating my own son?"

"Even if I did say it, you can't prove anything," George laughed.

"I think I'm going to be sick," Ralph sighed.

"Revenge is a dish best served with chicken, wouldn't you agree?"

The End