I never cooked a potato before. I lived at home until I turned 19, and I got a place with my oldest friend, Ben. He was a year older than me and promised we’d make great roomies. My mom loved to prepare meals, but she refused to teach me anything, swearing I’d marry and not have to cook.
Here I was 19, broke, and hungry. Ben had some potatoes in a bag on top of the fridge, and I was bent on cooking one. We had no Internet back then because we were too poor. I grabbed one of the potatoes and put it in a frying pan. Nothing happened. I knew how to make cold cereal with milk, so I did that instead.
Ben came into the kitchen. “Why is there a whole potato in a frying pan?”
“I planned to cook it,” I said.
“Maybe rooming together was a bad idea. You’re eating my cereal, and you’ve threatened one of my potatoes.”
“I need to eat!”
He pointed at the potato in the frying pan. “Step 1: Wash the potato. Slice the–”
“Wait! Let me get a notepad.”
“You don’t need a notepad. Slice up the thing, add some oil to the pan, and turn the heat on.”
I nodded and eyed the plant with dire intent. Was a potato a plant? A root for sure. I wish I could look it up. I wanted to know what the potato was called, scientifically speaking.
Washing the potato, I started to hum a bit. The potato started to hum with me, but I couldn’t be that far gone. I sliced into the potato, and it let out this tiny little scream. It may have been the sweetest sound I ever heard. I finished the cut. Then I cut it again. A small scream like an angel in anguish followed. I danced, heel-toe, heel-toe. I knew right then I’d be a master chef.
I put the pan on the burner and poured in a little oil. I felt the heat with my hand, and it seemed hot enough. I threw the twenty or so pieces of sliced root into the oil, and twenty or so howls of horror followed. I found my true calling, finally. Nineteen years on this planet and I knew my place.
The screams died down, and I put the taters on a plate. I added a bit of salt and feasted. My feet dragged me to the local library, and the researching of potato recipes began.
Baked potatoes seemed easy. Stabbing into the potato with a fork to create tiny vents caused the greatest wailing of pain you could ever imagine. I stabbed it over and over, all the while reveling in its cries of no and stop. I put it in the oven without preheating. I turned the oven up to 150. The potato begged. Finish me, it cried out in this glorious voice. This went on for some time. I showed it mercy. I turned the heat up to 350.
Butter and salt went on my victim. It was good. Mom should have taught me how to cook. She taught me things like how to butcher a common house cat, but not how to prepare a meal.
I went to work, but my mind wasn’t there. Customers would ask for a half pound of sliced ham, and all I could think about was the precious screams that came from a potato as it’s diced.
Ben and I ran into each other when I got home. “I see you like potatoes,” he said.
“I love to hear them scream.”
I did a little shrug thing and wondered when I’d get a chance to cook again. We were out of potatoes though. I tried cutting up an apple, and the thing just laughed and laughed with every cut, like it enjoyed it. I went to the store and got two 20 lb. bags of baking potatoes. The first potato out of the bag I cut in strips, and that was pleasing. I heated up about a half inch of oil in my favorite marble coated pan and dropped the strips in one at a time. Each piece screamed. Each one warmed my heart.
They tasted good, and I added a little cayenne pepper to them.
I went to sleep for a while. I’m not sure how long. I felt like I hadn’t seen the sun in ages, and it was creeping through my window. Damn having a window facing east. Ben sat at our kitchen table eating cereal.
“Do you have work today?” He asked.
“I was going to suggest cooking some sweet potatoes and a ham, but we have enough baking potatoes to last for a month.”
“Sweet potatoes?” I asked.
He drank the leftover milk out of the cereal bowl. “They’re very tasty, and they’re healthy.”
“Do they scream?”
Ben closed his eyes and shook his head. Within three days, we prepared sweet potatoes. They had these deep voices and got very threatening when stabbed with a fork. No fun at all. The higher pitched cries of terror from the baking potatoes were better.
“I don’t like sweet potatoes,” I said.
We weren’t even done cooking, and Ben, being pretty smart, noticed this. “You haven’t even tried them yet.”
“They don’t scream.”
“I’m worried about you,” he said.
Don’t worry about me. We ate the food. Taste wise sweet potatoes and ham was a nice meal. Would have been better with some dinner rolls though. I began to wonder about Ben. I wondered what would happen if I cut him? Would he scream? I bet he would.
I went and got my handcuffs and taser. I shot him with the taser, and oh did he scream. He was worried about me? I cuffed him.
“What are you doing?” He yelled.
I started cutting on him. He screamed even better than the potatoes.
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