“What do you do with the heads then?” the crone spoke through the gaps in her teeth. Mister Tratchten handed her order over the counter in a plastic bag. It still moved against the clear film.
“Madam?” he said, taken aback. The woman tapped her cane on the glass case in front of her. Pointed to the array of suction-cup studded tentacles, bright red and curly under tube lighting.
“They’re not fit to eat,” he asserted with a hand on the counter.
“The hell they aren’t,” she frowned, “I’ll give you the case of scotch the lodger left behind.”
“If you don’t mind, Mrs. Briggs,” Trachten said firmer now, “other customers are waiting.” He gestured with a knife across the terracotta tiles to the shadows queued outside the dust-streaked window.
Once business was done, Trachten extinguished the lights to the shop floor and went upstairs, gathering the metal bucket on his way. He pinched the petite yellow key to the guest room door out his pocket and unlocked it. The entity therein could not be returned, but it would not die either. He had elected to make the best of it.