To kick things off . . .

I’ll post here the first piece of fiction that I ever had published. It is called A Dish of Spouse and was originally published in The Earwig Flesh Factory in 2000:

Le Comique, ennemi des soupirs et des pleurs,

N’admet point dans ses vers de tragique douleurs.

                                                                          -Boileau

     After Mrs. Shapiro had eaten Maurice, her husband, she felt a sense of regret. It was not that he had tasted poorly; no, it was not that. She had taken all the care in the world over his preparation. She had fed him on nothing but milk and cereal for ten days before killing him, despite his childish protestations, and then bled and cleaned him ever so well. It was a good deal of trouble stringing him up by his legs from the fig tree in the back yard, but she had been determined to do things properly. Removing the intestines and innards was unpleasant. All the same, she had to admit to smiling when cutting off his genitals.

     She scraped, parboiled and dressed him, and, with an apron strapped over her healthy chest and a showtune on her lips, stuffed him with a mixture of sausage, bread crumbs, chopped onions and celery, seasoned with a little savory paprika. It was only upon seeing his big green eyes staring up at her that she realized that she had neglected to remove them. So, berating herself mildly for her silliness, her lack of attention, she plucked them out and cut away the lids.

     She sewed him up, skewered his arms and legs into a crouching stance, and stuck a wooden block in his mouth to hold it open. Then she rubbed him with oil and a cut clove of garlic and dredged him in flour. Covering his ears and rump with aluminum foil, she put him in her biggest pan and roasted him, at 325 degrees, until he was tender, basting him every fifteen minutes with drippings. When he was finally done she removed the foil and block of wood, stuck an apple in the mouth and cranberries in the eye sockets and garnished him with watercress.

     The guests all knew Ellen to be an exceptional cook, but they had no idea the trouble she had gone to on this particular occasion.

     They arrived, removed their coats, and sat talking over cocktails in the living room. Many compliments were made on the aroma floating in from the kitchen, and guesses as to the nature of the dish. Mrs. Shapiro smiled good humoredly, stirred her Tom Collins with her little finger, and, like a good hostess, diverted the talk to other matter.

     When it came time to eat the party filed nonchalantly into the dining room. It was only as they seated themselves that Dick Rethause, a long time friend, commented on the absence of the host.

     “Ellen, where in God’s name is Maurice?” he asked, with an appearance of genuine concern.

     “Right here; coming through, coming through,” she replied, wheeling her husband in on a dining cart.

     His skin was a lovely golden glossy brown and, with the apple in his mouth and the cranberries for eyes, he looked quite festive.

     “He’s beautiful,” said the women, clapping.

     Of course it was Dick, the self appointed authority on meat, who did the carving, slicing off generous portions for each guest, and an especially generous portion of the left buttock for himself. The question arose as to what wine would be best drunk with the meal. Red was essential in regards to beef and game, but white often preferable with pork, lamb or poultry. Ellen settled the matter decisively by setting several bottles of a lovely California Burgundy on the table.

     “We bought these on our last trip to Napa,” she said. “It’s a bit heavy, but I think fitting to the occasion.”

     Toasts were made to the host and hostess and knife and fork played their tune. By the guests silence, and the rapidity with which the plates were cleared of flesh, Ellen Shapiro knew her dinner to be a success. When the guests could eat no more, at least not without appearing out and out gluttons, dessert and coffee were served and conversation resumed, voices uttering out of grease shined lips.

     “A really wonderful choice,” said Dick’s  wife, Charlotte. “You’ll have to give me the recipe.”

     “Well, for myself,” chuckled Dick, “this is the kind of meal I would much rather eat at another’s house than have eaten at mine.”

     As the guests filtered out, bellies distended and eyes half closed in torpid satisfaction, they each gave Ellen a hug and final compliment. She stood with her back against the closed door and listened as motors started and wheels turned out the driveway. It was then she felt that vague sense of regret, the after effect of almost any well planned event or party, when all has been done and passed through and little more than enjoyable memories remain.

     She went into the dining room and began to clean up, stacking plates and collecting soiled silverware. The table was scattered with odd orts of meat and stained with splotches of grease and gravy. A bit of bread with teeth marks lay there, as did several half drunk glasses of wine. The remains of Maurice sat devastated on the dining cart.

     “Well,” she sighed, looking at the carcass, still rich with shreds of him, “at least this will make a wonderful bone soup.”

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