Erik grew increasingly nervous having the Cowplant in the garden. While he continued to care for it, playing with it and petting it like an animal, sometimes the plant refused to be fed. He would offer it the meat it required, but it would actually shake that giant cow’s head at him, with its mouth tightly shut like an obstinate toddler, refusing to eat it’s vegetables. Twice, now, Erik had come to check on the plant, hearing the cow bell jangling. To his horror, a piece of cake extended from its mouth on a tentacle, trying to entice someone over to it.
One evening, very late, Joseph got home from work and went out the backdoor of the house on his way to the plant. Realizing that once again, the plant refused the offered meat, Erik made a point to detain Joseph. He was able to distract him long enough for Joe to change his mind. Instead, he went back inside and started working on a new routine.
Alerted to the dangers, Joseph brought both of his little ones outdoors schooling them in the perils of this plant.
“So,” he said, “What do you do if you see the Cowplant dangling a piece of cake from its mouth?”
“Run and get an adult to feed it,” Rory said.
“Very good. And, Aubrey, do you ever take the cake?”
“No, Elsa might eat you, instead. Is it like taking candy from a stranger?” she asked.
“I’ve named her Elsa,” the girl said, with a nod.
“What a dorky name for a Cowplant!” Rory laughed hard and long.
"Yes," Joseph intervened, "it's very much like taking candy from a stranger. So, see to it that you don't take the cake, under any circumstances. Just remember, the plant will try to fool you into thinking you want the cake."
One evening, Jaylah came home from work. She was feeling very, very tense. Things at the restaurant kept going from bad to worse. They were short-staffed after two of their servers called in sick at the last minute, plus one chef actually got sick in the kitchen and had to be sent home. The orders kept backing up, the dishwasher broke down one more time and she found herself over stuffing the machine so they wouldn’t fall further behind. Being the Head Dishwasher, she couldn’t allow that to happen.
As she approached the house, a light tinkling of a cow’s bell caught her attention. She found herself drawn to it, in fact, despite Erik’s admonitions to ignore it. The cake floated in front of the Cowplants’ face.
What was that story about someone named Jonah? Jaylah kicked, scratched, shouted and make such a ruckus that she found herself being regurgitated right out of the thing’s mouth, in a slimy, icky stream of saliva!
Sitting on the lawn in front of that beast, she felt grateful to be alive, but in bad need of a shower. After this hideous experience, she and Joseph once again drilled the children on the need for safety.
“And what if the plant offers a tantalizing piece of cake?” Jaylah said, to her wide-eyed children.
“Run! Don’t take it” Aubrey said.
“That’s right,” Jaylah confirmed. “Mama got very lucky. She was tired, hungry and not thinking right. It could be that since she was in such a sour, foul mood, that she didn’t taste too good to the Cowplant.”
“Do you think that’s why he spit you out again?” Rory said.
“She spit Mama out again,” Aubrey stomped her little foot. “She has an utter. Boy cows don’t.”
“You haven’t even started school yet. What makes you think you’re so bright,” the brother said.
“Mama, Rory’s being mean to me again.”
Days went by, turning into weeks. Aubrey started school and the two children met new friends. Rory brought Ericka Bordan home with him one day. He’d brought a different girl home, prior, but the two didn’t seem to hit it off. Ericka enjoyed cloud-gazing with Rory, which make Jaylah a tad apprehensive. In only a short time, Rory would be thirteen. The time seemed to by flying by.
Again, Jaylah returned from work. Stressed out, initially, she went inside, had some of the leftovers for dinner and after chatting with both Erik and Joseph, she found herself in a happy mood again. The night was a pleasant one, warm, but with a nice cool breeze. She stepped out onto the patio to enjoy it. Glancing over she heard the cow bell jingling, again. Odd, she thought, knowing that Erik had made sure the thing ate, these past several days. Not allowing it to refuse a meal. Yet, she came off of the patio and over to the giant plant.
Erik, Joseph, and a few of the spectres that haunted them nightly came running. Joseph felt his heart in his throat at the sight of Grimmie standing by the banister of the patio overlooking the dreaded plant.
“Jaylah!” Joseph shouted, looking around for her. He ran across the patio, down the steps and around to the side. “Jaylah, where are you? Oh, gawd, no,” he said, gazing at the horrid look of satisfaction on the plant’s big mug. Grimmie floated on down, through the railing to stand before the plant.
“Please,” Joseph said, hands clasped tightly together, as he got down on a knee. “Spare Jaylah. Spare my wife, please. We have two young children. Please, send her back to me.”
At first, Grimmie nodded and Joseph fully expected Jaylah to be spewed, slimy but alive and well, out of Elsa’s mouth, for a second time. Elsa was far too sweet a name for this monster. Instead, what he got was a tombstone. He looked at the headstone, at Grimmie and then at the plant. What? “But you agreed. You said she’d be back. All I have of her is this stone. What kind of a deal is that? You lied to me. I should take you apart myself. Feed you limb by limb to this horrid monster of a plant. Must be from the planet Hell.”
“Perhaps, you’d care to try for the Black Widow?” Grimmie said. “All you have to do to achieve it, is outlive five spouses.” Came Grimmie’s remark. Joseph, instead, milked the cow, and took the glass, full of the essence — all that was left of his beloved wife, inside.