Jack of All

He had a hidden, deadly talent. It wasn’t something he used often—once a year to be precise—but he’d honed it over nearly forty years now, and once the knife was in his hand, the old, comfortable ways came back with alacrity.

People gasped at what he did with that sharp, wicked blade. They looked at the gashes and slashes while the smell of raw guts tainted the air and made a few of them queasy. One or two insisted on touching his tortured masterpieces—verification of his mad art.

Unforgettable sights, especially in the morgue.

Grissom’s Jack O’Lanterns.

*** *** ***

“Can you do a spider?”

“Of course.”

“A skull?”


“How about a two-headed square dancer with lobster claws for hands?”

“Greg . . . Why would you want a pumpkin carved to look like a two-headed square dancer with lobster claws for hands?”

“It’s personal.”


“Yeah. When I propose, I want her to be absolutely stunned.”

“I’m . . . already stunned.”

“Hey, well imagine her surprise! I figure I have a much better shot at a ‘yes’ if she’s already a little dazed.”

“There are more traditional ways to get a yes.”

“Forget traditional. I want unforgettable.”

*** *** ***

“If I didn’t know you so well, I’d worry about your talent with a blade.”

“You should have seen my early days shaving, Jim. Not pretty.”

“Yeah, well some of us use electric rather than a blade.”

“Not close enough. Not . . . intimate enough.”

“Slashed throats aren’t intimate.”

“Neither are electric shavers.”

“Depends. Ever watch a curvy showgirl in a little bitty towel do her legs?”


“Life has not been kind to you, Grissom.”

“And you have watched?”

“Stake out. Once in a while, you get lucky.”


“Watching her, niiiice. Watching her grandma—not so much.”

*** *** ***

“You’ve got talent, man. You ought to enter some of these professionally, Grissom.”

“I prefer not to, Warrick. I’ve got more than enough notoriety as it is.”

“Yeah, but still—centaurs, spaceships, that incredibly hideous one on Judy’s desk—“

“That is my tribute to our fearless lab supervisor.”

“You know, I thought I saw a resemblance to the big E.”

“Yes, well as long as he doesn’t—“

“Good point. Think you could do one of say, Catherine?”

“For that I’d need two pumpkins. And some gourds.”

“And a lotta bullet gelatin. For shimmy.”

“You live dangerously, Warrick.”


*** *** ***

“The ancient art of pumpkin carving is really an amazing one . . . certainly just another of your myriad talents I see. I can’t carve pumpkins myself—I’m allergic to most plant viscera . . . “

“Hodges, get out of my light.”

“Oh, sorry. So, what’s this one to be? Monster? Mirthful grin? Mayhem?”

“A ywo-headed square dancer with lobster claws for hands.”

“Er . . . sorry?”

“For Greg.”

“Ah. Must be a Norwegian thing.”

“I think it’s a Greg thing. Let’s not defame the Norwegians.”

“Good point. I’d hate an international incident over a carved vegetable.”

*** *** ***

“Grissom, I really don’t need the extra aggravation tonight—“

“Hello Conrad. Not into the Halloween spirit?”

“Not when people are snickering about the quote artwork unquote on Judy’s desk, no.”

“If it makes you feel better, you can smash it at sunrise.”

“Joy. Doing my own face in. Just the way to cap the evening.”

“Well, If you really want the last laugh—auction it off.”

“Wait—folks here would pay to stomp on my face?”

“No comment to that.”

“Oh ha-ha . . . still, I could make a few bucks . . . thanks for the suggestion.”

*** *** ***

“Hey . . . so, you smell like a compost heap and you’ve got some seeds on your glasses.”

“Hazard of the hobby. Thank goodness I only do this once a year.”

“And with pumpkins. You’d be a dangerous man in a knife fight.”

“Only if the opponent was round and completely still.”

“And scooped out, I guess. Ready to go home?”

“Yes. Yours is behind my desk.”

“You remembered!”

“I did.”

“It’s perfect—folded ears, curly tail—I bet I’m the only woman in Vegas with a pumpkin that has a fetal pig carved on it.”

“I hope so.”




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