the pearl


It sat in a small silver box, lined with black velvet; something you'd put expensive jewelry in possibly, but it was far more precious to its owner than any cold glittering stone. He'd hold the tiny box in his hand at least once a night, clutching it to his chest as his heart beat just a little faster, knowning that, beyond a doubt, this was his.

He'd just peek into the box most nights, letting the light barely touch upon the yellowy-white pearlesque surface, his eyes tracing over the shadows and light upon the hills and valleys years of use had placed upon it. He'd peek into the box, smile widely, and whisper, in the softest of voices, "This is Donald Groves' tooth. And it's mine."

It made him very popular with the women, their black eyeliner smudged after a late night of standing alone in the same empty club night after night. He'd lure them back to his tiny beaten apartment, sat them upon the stained and dirty couch covered in faded velvet drapery, and open the tiny box wide, showing it off with all the sentiment of a proud father. The women who were impressed would be in his bed that night. The women who wanted to touch it would stay in the morning.

It had cost a lot of money, and he used up all the cash he had stashed away for his move to New Orleans, but he didn't care that he'd still be in the same shitty town for the rest of his life, going to the same club, fucking the same women over and over again, because he had the tooth, the one thing that had lasted longer than Groves, and would last longer than him.

As he sat up on late lonesome nights, drunk on cheap wine, staring at the tooth in the box, and he wondered how human flesh felt as teeth tore through it. Would it be rough? Butter-soft and smooth? Filled with gristles and veins, taking hours upon hours just to chew through a leg? Or would it be exquisite, softer than the finest veal?

He wondered these things late at night, when he bit down on a woman's shoulder, wondering what it would be like to bite down harder, breaking the skin, the muscle, the bone even, bittersweet thick saltwater blood flowing into his mouth as his teeth ground in. Sometimes, the only way he could finish what he was doing, the only way he could come inside these women tired before their time, was to think about the meat inside of them, laid out like a butcher's display, red and tempting him.

And each time, buried deep inside a shank, as if it had accidentally broken off in the frenzy, was the tooth, glinting back at him knowingly.

It began to haunt him during the harsh daylight hours, a single glint from a smile catching his eye, making him forget about the fries burning in the deep fat or the cash in his register. He'd close his eyes and the darkness behind his eyelids would be the black velvet, and the tooth would be there, shining luminescence in the night of his mind. And in the dark, as he held another woman close to him, he found himself biting harder and harder, leaving bruises on their pasty skins, something else for them to scream at him about, but it felt so very close to what he was searching for.

And sometimes he thought Donald Groves was whispering to him, telling him about how it felt, the scent rising from the stove mixing with the stench from the living room carpet, how good it tasted on his tongue, how Groves loved his mother so much, right down to the very bone. He listen to the whispers only he could hear and he knew, he knew just as well as he knew every groove and curve of the tooth in the small silver box, that, one day, he would have to find out for himself.

This OZ story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at