I didn’t see the clock, covered as it was in lipstick, smeared there by an angry paramour intent on getting her message across in mauve. It must have been five-ish, or thereabouts. How I knew the time was more to do with the glow across the tops of the trees–that particular pool of yellow that comes in the gloaming around here–than any temporal credit given to my innate mental sharpness.

Anyway, it was my fault, the crusted desires of the middle-aged man, seeking solace in the pages of the pet lover’s magazine. When I saw the recipe for the “gumbo” of goat afterbirth with a tone of jasmine, I couldn’t resist. My lady friend arrived for dinner, the room aglow in dim purplish lights from the chiffon scarves placed over the lamps, more an effort to conceal the cracked paint and cobwebbed corners than any romantic notion. Don’t misunderstand me, I wasn’t looking to roll on the sofa with her, no. She was too proper for such activities, but I did sense benevolence on her part, towards me.

The wax rolled down the lit candle, like, well, you know… She accepted a splash of Pinot Noir from Oregon, and walked through to the kitchen, where the caprine gumbo was bubbling away. In the tangle of bloody afterbirth, a small creature was paddling in the cast iron pot, a perfectly formed three-inch tall goat-child.

My lady friend excused herself to the bathroom, and as the kitchen light struck the stove I flicked at a dust mote floating in the light beam. She did not return to the kitchen, only the slam of the door attesting to her hurried departure.

Click here to order Blood a Cold Blue by James Claffey from Press 53.