Formalda Hyde — The Lady With The Killer Instinct
From her toxic lips, to your smoldering ears.
You might know me from the song Hotel California. I’m the one who “lit up the candle and showed him the way — ” into hell. The rest is history… for the unlucky ones I meet, who “checkout… but can never leave!”
It was one of those Hotel California kind of days at the A&P, but not as classy.
I had a feeling it would be when I walked inside, picked up the circular and saw rat poison on sale in Aisle 9. I thought I would die, but someone else did—the fella in the frozen food section, or cryogenic microwaveables as I like to call them.
His name was Sy, which was obvious. Because Sy liked to sigh. He got my attention with a deep shuddering breath and classic pick-up line.
“What’s your favorite frozen dinner?” he asked.
“Anything that doesn’t make me glow in the dark,” I said.
“Was that a joke?”
“No, read the label with the 4-point print,” I told him.
“I will now!” He put on a pair of glasses and grabbed a box from the shelf.
It was a frozen bratwurst dinner.
“I guess I should always read the fine print,” he smiled, with smoke-stained teeth while squinting at the label.
“Why do you think it’s called fine?” I asked.
“Wow! That’s deep.”
Not as deep as the deep you’ll know.
“Have you tried the frozen pizza?” I pointed, showing him the way to the front of the aisle, closer to the rat poison, one row over in Aisle 9.
“No, I haven’t tried it yet,” he sighed. “Though, it looks tasty — “
“ — It all looks tasty until you nuke it, and steam explodes from the plastic like a radioactive cloud.” A slip of words I realized then corrected myself. “Except for the pizza, of course.”
“Of course,” he echoed, his eyes widening with interest… For me, not the pizza.
He extended a hand and inched closer to me. “I’m Sy,” he said, with a waft of sour breath that hung in the air like a bad memory that never leaves.
I took several steps backward against the cold glass door, putting distance between his breath and me.
“Is there something wrong?” He asked, with that look on his face you make when you step on something that shouldn’t be on the bottom of your shoe.
“It’s your breath! It smells like bratwurst,” I confessed. “I have an aversion to anything German. My great-grandmother was born in the backseat of a Mercedes and was sold with the car. She was thrown in as a freebie with a set of mats.”
“I’m sorry,” he sighed. “Yet, that’s truly amazing. How did you know I had a bratwurst and not a sausage for lunch?”
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
“You are a cracker,” he chuckled.
“I’m partial to Ritz and cheddar cheese.”
“You are wacky wonderful!”
Not the words I wanted to hear. I was there to end him, not befriend him. But I’m resourceful and can work with what I’ve got, which was Sy, who was smitten, and a small window of time before my hair turned from red to white.
“Try the rat poison in Aisle 9,” I blurted. “I think you’ll really like it.” Then, I whirled around, pushing the cart farther down the aisle. As I walked away from him, he released one of his soon-to-be last, sour-spewed breaths.
“Thanks!” he yelled. “And I won’t have to nuke it. So, I won’t get cancer!”
I listened to the heels of his loafers slap against cheap linoleum while he stepped lively toward his fate in Aisle 9.
That was the last time I heard Sy sigh. As I lingered nearby what was left of him, the paramedic confirmed what I already knew. “Time of death, 2:05!” He said.
“It appears he ate the rat poison then collapsed in his cart on a bratwurst dinner and six-pack of beer. It’s the damnedest thing.”
Damned is right, I thought, as Sy’s body hit the gurney with a thud and squeak of wheels. I took his soul.
The paramedic told the cashier, “He checked out too soon.”
But he can never leave.
I’ll send the cashier a condolence card like I always do. It will say: “I’m sorry he didn’t use his coupons before he checked out too soon. Have a nice day!”