We left the story at Hans Leiter confessing to the murder of his brother.
“Oh Hans! Don’t say that! You know it’s not true,” said Emily.
“You’re right Emily,” replied Hans. He gave Jared a forced smile. All of them ate their peanut butter cookies in silence. Emily frowned. Jared looked down at his shoes. Hans’ eyes were distant, then he looked at his watch.
“Oh my, look at the time!” said Hans. “Would you mind if I took this human with me to my house Emily? It’s been so long since I’ve talked with one of my own kind. Your peanut butter cookies are delicious as always, but it’s almost dinnertime. I’m sure he wants something more substantial.”
“Go, just go!” shouted Emily. She turned away from both of them.
When Hans and Jared walked outside, Hans said, “Sorry about that. Emily doesn’t like hearing about anything unpleasant, especially if it’s true.”
Jared shook his head. “I don’t know what to say. I think I should be getting back to my snowmobile.”
“You’re in no danger from me, I promise,” said Hans. “Besides it’s much more dangerous at night out here than during the day time. Just come with me and I’ll explain.”
Jared didn’t see that he had much of a choice so he allowed himself to be led to Hans’s house. It only took a few minutes but Jared stepped back when he saw it. Hans Leiter lived in a step pyramid made of gigantic snow blocks.
These snow blocks also surrounded the compound, making a tall wall. Hans Leiter entered a key code on a hidden panel on one of the snow blocks and one of the blocks moved to create an opening.
“Come in, come in,” said Hans. “Dinner will be ready in about 10 minutes. In the meantime, make yourself at home.”
Jared walked into the igloo and was almost blinded. Everything in the igloo was white – the walls, the furniture, the appliances, the cabinetry, even the knick knacks on the shelves and countertops. Jared sat down on a stark white circular sectional and closed his eyes.
“You said you were going to explain,” said Jared.
“Yes,” said Hans. “Do you mind if I finish getting dinner ready while we talk?” he asked.
“Of course not,” Jared replied.
“You know Mina is a siren,” Hans began.
“I don’t believe you,” Jared replied. “Her song was compelling but it didn’t compel me to kill myself or dash myself on some rocks.”
“How do you think her message carried three hundred miles away?” asked Hans. “No normal signal would travel that far.”
Jared realized that was true. “Well how come I haven’t killed myself?” he asked.
“Only the insane ones drive you to your death,” replied Hans. “Odysseus heard the insane sirens. They are the ones forced to live on the deserted islands in the middle of oceans.”
“So sirens live among us in the human world?” asked Jared.
“Yes, they usually make their living as cabaret singers or something similar. They don’t want to attract too much attention to themselves because their lifespans are much longer than human beings.”
“Oh, so how long do they live?” asked Jared.
“500 years,” replied Hans. “And they normally don’t marry either. It’s hard to hide your age when you have a spouse who grows older while you stay young.”
“That makes sense I guess,” Jared replied. “Somehow though Mina and your brother married.”
“Yes, they broke the rule.”
“You knew what Mina was then. How could you tell?” asked Jared.
“I studied all sorts of monsters for my book. Mina sang at a hotel in Las Vegas during the afternoon. I realized what she was because of the number of people who came to listen to her sing, unusual for a lounge act during that time of day. She couldn’t dampen her singing powers completely.”
“That’s where your brother met her?” asked Jared.
“Yes, I flew to Las Vegas to meet Mina and be my brother’s best man at his wedding. I immediately recognized her for what she was but when I told my brother he wouldn’t listen. They were married in an Elvis chapel the day after I arrived.”
“It was a year later, when I saw my brother again at a family gathering. He told me…” Hans broke off his story, staring at the wall.
“He told you what?” asked Jared.
“My brother told me he and Mina planned to have a child. I just couldn’t let that happen.”
“Why? What’s wrong with that?” asked Jared.
“It’s an abomination!” shouted Hans. “A half monster, half human child could not be!” Jared saw Hans banging pots and pans around in some kind of effort to control his anger. After several minutes, Hans continued.
“I apologize Jared. I told you I would tell you the story.” After a few moments of silence, Jared heard a bell ring. “Dinner is ready,” said Hans.
At first Jared did not know what to think of his dinner. The meal sat in a white bowl. On the bottom it looked like a circle of white rice surrounded by clear broth. On top of the rice sat shredded daikon radish. On the top of the daikon radish, was some kind of white fish. We will call it “The White Meal.” Here is a link to the recipe.
As Jared and Hans ate their dinner, Hans continued his story.
“After our fight, my brother and Mina left. I sent an apology but the letter was returned with no forwarding address. I asked the rest of my family but my brother and Mina let no one know their plans.”
“Then how did you find them?” asked Jared.
“I hired the best private detectives to find my brother and Mina. One of them finally located them a few months later. I hurried to the small town where they lived to try to convince my brother to stop his madness,” Hans replied.
“So you weren’t sorry,” said Jared.
“Of course not. The apology letter was a ruse, a way to put my brother at ease before I killed Mina.” Jared shuddered.
“Anyways,” Hans continued. “When I arrived to confront my brother, I discovered Mina was already pregnant.”
“Then you could do nothing right?” asked Jared. “Your brother and Mina were going to have a baby.”
“No!” shouted Hans. “I would just have to kill Mina and the baby now. In my youth, I was trained as a sniper. It was easy enough to spy on them, study their habits, and get in perfect position.”
“But something happened, right?” said Jared. “Your plan didn’t work.”
“No, it didn’t. My brother and Mina were sitting on the couch. As I pulled the trigger, my brother reached over and I shot him in the back. I then quickly took a second shot to Mina’s stomach and scrambled out of there.”
Jared swallowed his last spoonful of miso broth and got up to leave.
“Where do you think you’re going?” asked Hans. “It’s very dangerous out there now.”
“Thank you for dinner,” said Jared. “But after your story I just can’t stay here. I’d rather take my chances outside. Goodbye.”
Jared opened the door by pushing a button on the wall and was pushed backward. Mina entered. “Finally, I found you!” she laughed, looking at Hans.