Cashew woke up one morning to the dull sound of music. His first thought was that he was still dreaming, since he knew that Monsuta did not own a record player. But as his sleepiness ebbed away, he realised that the sound was coming from the grand piano up stairs. The tune was a refreshing and upbeat jazz piece. Cashew immediately was drawn to the catchy rhythm, but by the time he reached the top of the stairs, the melody had adopted more mournful notes and eventually sadly slowed to a stop.
“It seems as though I have woken you up, my deepest apologies.” Monsuta said without looking back.
“I thought you didn’t play?”
“I said I’d play only when it calls to me.” With a deep sigh, Monsuta shut the piano cover and slowly stood up. His voice sounded like it was tinted with a slight bitterness, but Cashew felt that it was also concealing something deeper, like moss covering up the ancient walls of a secret castle. “In my eyes, being able to play one song does not count as being able to play the piano.”
“Why do you play this one?” Cashew was unusually curious this morning. He had now spent a few days at Monsuta’s mansion and was getting used to the other’s strange habits. He learned that Monsuta lived alone with his two cats and never had any guests over. He spent his days mostly reading whilst Cashew took it upon himself to clean the mansion. It was big and very dusty, and he decided that if he was going to stay here for a while longer, he might as well make the place more enjoyable. Additionally, Cashew found no new information about Monsuta’s parents and the topic had never come up in conversation. Cashew also noticed that Monsuta frequently held a spoon in his mouth, which at first he thought was something he forgot to put away after a meal, but later on turned out to just be a habit of the blonde’s to chew on the piece of metal... Actually, after the cooking incident from the first night, Cashew was left with very few options of killing Monsuta, since he initially planned for the poison to finish the job. He had definitely underestimated his target. Monsuta had promised that they would go back into town soon, where Cashew could finally top up on equipment he could use to kill him with. They were to go next week. Furthermore, throughout the whole time that Cashew had spent with Monsuta, he had always seen him with a childish and bubbly attitude, so on the morning where he saw the blonde in a rare state of melancholy whilst playing the instrument he claimed he cannot play, curiosity had got the better of him, no matter how much he hated the man.
“I do not particularly enjoy the piano, but I once knew someone who did. That person would bug me until I gave in and finally learned this song and truthfully, I don’t mind it now since it brings back a certain, satisfying memory. It’s name is Autumn Leaves... but with my own ending.”
A silence overcame the room and Monsuta mysteriously felt very uncomfortable by it. Cashew desperately tried to think of what else they could talk about, if only to move on from this frozen moment.
“Well then, other than the piano what else do you dislike?” At this question, a goofy look overcame Monsuta’s face and Cashew immediately felt relived that the awkwardness was now a thing of the past.
“Erm, let me think...” Monsuta put his hand on his face in thought. “I don’t like water, I think it has a very uncomfortable and alien-like feeling to it (which is also a reason why I don’t boil or soak my food in it before hand)... large crowds also displease me, especially if they all put on cologne or perfume. Oh, how I hate people who spray on perfume- it just ruins their natural smell!” Cashew could tell Monsuta was thinking very seriously about the question, and although he couldn’t understand all of his dislikes, what he noticed was that Monsuta was slowly making his way downstairs. He did this whenever he had an urge to read one of his books, which is probably a habit that bloomed from the lack of anyone around him. It annoyed Cashew to the very marrow in his bone since the blonde would rudely leave whenever such an urge came to him, and this time he was determined to not let Monsuta escape so easily... was what he thought, but Monsuta had turned around in Cashew’s momentary thoughtfulness and was already halfway down the stairs, running towards the library.
“Hey wait! Don’t you dare go back to reading your damned books, I’m trying to have an actual conversation with you...” Cashew knew that if Monsuta got a hold of a book, he wouldn’t be able to get through to the man until the next day. No way was he going to let this low-life murderer’s child ignore him in such a way! “Answer me this then, why do I never see you eating vegetables?” It was the only subject that came into Cashew’s mind at the moment, probably because it had been subconsciously nagging at him whenever the two shared a meal together. However, instead of having Cashew’s desired effect of holding up a conversation, Monsuta’s eyes lit up and it was at that moment that Cashew realised that he had messed up. “Vegetables? I don’t like them because green is the opposite of red. But you’re right, vegetables IS a great topic for a book today.” (How dare he!) Cashew was fuming from the answer and with his fresh burst of energy he managed to catch up to Monsuta and slam the door to the library shut right before the blonde had the chance to enter.
“I told you, I’m trying to have a conversation here!” Cashew challengingly stared up and into Monsuta’s eyes whilst also holding the door shut tight behind him. Was it his imagination or did Monsuta’s black eyes actually have a thin line of white pigment in the left corners of them? (That’s quite a rare eye colour...) No matter, for the other finally sighed in defeat.
“I guess you’re too energetic today to let me read in peace. So then, what do you dislike?” The question took Cashew by surprise, as he thought he was the one that would be starting all the conversations, but either way, he dared not show his surprise.
“I think hugs are disgusting...”
No sooner had Cashew said this did he wish to turn back time because instantly, Monsuta’s mouth turned into a mischievous grin. Now it was Cashew’s turn to run. “No! Don’t you dare; I’ll kill you if you so much as touch me!” Never before did he have the urge to kill this man more than in this moment - only proving the extent to which Cashew hated hugs. “I allow you to go back to reading your books! I learned my lesson, ok? Never again will I have a conversation with yo~ou!”
They spent the rest of the morning running around the house until, finally, the two exhausted males broke down onto the couch in the living room whilst each was eating a previously prepared sandwich. Cashew was too tired to even think of how he had got hold of the sandwich in the first place.
“Then tell me what do you like?” Monsuta asked after finishing his sandwich and putting the spoon he usually chewed on once again into his mouth.
“Well, cooking can be quite fun, and I do sell flowers for a reason. How about you?” Monsuta quickly glanced back at Cashew before replying himself.
“I actually go out hunting quite often. The forest around my mansion is large and void of people, so you can get quite a few good hunts out from here and there. There’s also reading, obviously, and posting photos on Facebook. Although you probably don’t have the slightest clue of what that is since it can be found in a different world...” but Cashew was no longer listening after the first sentence that Monsuta had said. At the mention of Hunting, Cashew’s mind was already racing with the thoughts of how amazing of an opportunity that would be to kill Monsuta. He was even ashamed at himself for wasting a whole week inside the house of his parent’s murderers. “Let’s go hunting.” Cashew knew he could definitely end this man’s life if only he had a gun.
Monsuta looked back with curiosity and, at seeing the determination in Cashews face, grinned widely and suddenly jumped up with excitement. “Great! I haven’t been in a long time, so it’s great that I’ll be able to enjoy a hobby of mine with my first ever employee. Give me one moment and we’ll be able to go.”
”You can erase pen writing with cucumbers... oh, and here’s a good one - to avoid crying whilst chopping onions, hold a slice of bread in your mouth.”
The two men were each carrying a hunting rifle on their back and making their way through the forest; Monsuta’s reading, distant birds chirping and crunching of leaves as they walked were the only sound that could be heard in the cool, Spring evening. Once the two agreed to go hunting they both decided to not wait any longer and ended up going the very same day before the sun set. Monsuta had told Cashew to follow closely behind him since he was a a beginner to this environment, to which Cashew was more than delighted to because it meant that as soon as they would settle down somewhere, he could easily shoot Monsuta from the back. Yes, they were both very eager and very excited for their hunting session, yet the two had completely opposite motives.
“Eating too many carrots can make your skin turn orange.”
Monsuta had also said that he knew a great spot called ’Pecker Gorge, which was not too far from the mansion and was apparently swarming with pheasants this time of year. Apparently the place was called that because once Monsuta had accidentally shot a woodpecker that had flown in-front of a pheasant during one of his first ever hunts in this area. They ended up walking around for half an hour down a gently-sloping path whilst Monsuta kept reading out loud his ‘Vegetable Facts’ book, to which he had ended up getting a hold of despite everything that had happened, in order to pass time.
“Die your hair with beetroot to achieve a natural, red colour without using chemica- ah were here!” Monsuta’s voice quietened to a whisper and their pace suddenly slowed when they had turned a corner and entered a sort of long alley-way surrounded by hills of dirt and trees on either side. A few meters in front of them was a little ditch with some rocks and a bush growing to form a sort of canopy above it. “This is a perfect spot for a Hunter. Sheltered from all sides by rocks and protected by leaves from the top makes it really hard for animals to spot us.” They climbed into the ditch and Monsuta got onto his belly with his gun laying on top of a boulder. His hands got into position so he could be ready to shoot at any moment. “Sit back and watch how the pros work.”
He practically winked at Cashew which only reinforced his disgust. Together, they ended up waiting for quite a while in the hideout, watching as the sun was falling quite low in the sky and Cashew was secretly having a mental breakdown at the back of the ditch. His initial plan was to kill Monsuta as they were waiting for the pheasants to appear, but as he levelled his rifle, placed his finger over the trigger, lowered his head and aligned his eyes with the rear sight, a bothersome thought that he would become a murderer himself if he shot Monsuta right now, and would become as lowly as the people who killed his parents, infested itself into his head. Sure, he used to beat anyone who stood up to him up into a pulp, but he never killed anyone. As far as he was concerned, Monsuta wasn’t even a murderer, but the son of one. Although he does have rare moments where he becomes serious and unreadable (which could be genetic), but on the most part, Monsuta was a happy and innocent soul who was a bad cook and a little too obsessed with reading books and telling useless facts. (Why am I suddenly so conscious of killing the man I had been obsessed with killing for the past couple of days?)
Whilst Cashew was making himself more confused and annoyed, Monsuta was getting restless and worried that they won’t be able to catch anything before the sun sets. Just as he was about to call it quits, his eyes caught movement in the sky and with supernatural reflexes Monsuta took two, quick shots. The sudden, loud noise made Cashew’s soul nearly jump out of his body. (Thank god my finger had moved off of the trigger) he couldn’t help but think. The shot echoed throughout ‘Pecker Gorge’ and no one let out a single breath in the long moments after the bang. “I think I got one,” without even looking back, Monsuta excitedly jumped up and ran down the alleyway, “Cashew, hurry up, let’s go see what we caught!”
Cashew forced himself to recover from the shock of the loud bang and on slightly wobbly legs, made his way out from inside the ditch. (Damn, I haven’t decided if I should shoot him yet.) Either way, he ran after Monsuta in hopes that he will soon make up his mind. Oh and how very soon he did.
“It’s huge! Cashew, did you see how it’s done?” Somewhere up ahead Monsuta’s excited voice could be heard. Huffing, Cashew had eventually caught up with Monsuta, but upon seeing the proud way in which he held the pheasant along with the mad look of uncontrollable excitement and joy in his face, suddenly forced a flashback of a scene from Monsuta’s father giving the same smile to the child in the cupboard 20 years ago. Cashew slowed to a stop and a shadow overcame his face. (They’re all the same) was the conclusion that his thoughts came to. How could he have hesitated to shoot Monsuta back at ‘Pecker Gorge’? After all, Monsuta had murderers blood in him and that made him the same scum as the people who killed Cashews parents. (I hold no pity or regret for you, for one moment I will even stoop to your level if only I can avenge my parents death!)
Giving out a ferocious shout from the bottom of his heart, Cashew drew his rifle and confidently focused it at Monsuta’s heart. Without another thought he closed his eyes and pulled the trigger. Click! But no deafening bang came after. Confused, Cashew slowly opened his eyes and with disbelief saw that Monsuta was still healthy and standing.
“I, uhh, am very impressed with your enthusiasm, but the Pheasant is already dead. Thankfully, that’s a good thing because it seems we forgot to load your gun.” Monsuta, nervously at first, and then whole-heartedly broke out into laughter. Ultimately ashamed, Cashew staggered back in defeat. (I’m sorry mother, father. But I am a fool who does not deserve to be your son.)
It took the whole trek back to the mansion before Cashew was even close to being back to his senses. Before entering the front doors, he took a moment to breathe the last of the fresh air outside and looked out into the, already, night sky. A new moon shone weakly, and the quiet and cool breeze finally calmed down Cashew’s nerves.
“You were lucky once again, Monsuta. But tomorrow is a new day, and I will not give up until my mission here is complete.” With a final sigh, Cashew went inside to cook pheasant for dinner.