Flash Fiction by Susan Tepper


 

Fresh Meat

Don’t even attempt to figure me out. You will be thwarted at ever turn. My act is perfected. Houdini wouldn’t be able to find his way out.

I hear your sniggling, just around the bend in the counter. Where the blood spills into a drain hidden by all the sawdust. Are you aware these cutting slabs are deliberately angled to slant. Not so much that you’d notice by the naked eye. Of course you don’t know this which is why I haven’t made it a question. On heaven and earth there are no real questions. The butcher makes the fresh cut.

Blood pools a moment before sliding its red river down the slant and onto the floor. The sawdust works like a sponge. First off, I’ve had way too many women to name.

One rainy night, in a fit of pique due to raging insomnia, wind-driven rain, shaking the roof gutters, I started a mental list from A to Zed. An acknowledgment, of sorts, to the many bloody females I’ve managed to bed down. This little mind-game so totally absorbing, that I finally switched on the bedside lamp (imitation Tiffany). Presented to me on my fortieth birthday by a woman of that very same name. I assume she expected her gift would be accepted with a certain implied longevity, perhaps unto death. I almost said: It’s just a lamp, you idiot.

But this Tiffany was so lovely. All blonde effervescence, and how can you dim a thing like that?

While the rain battered the windows, I climbed from the bed and started to make a written list along the blank edge of a newspaper: Alice, Alexa, Adrienne, Arline, Arlene. The Arline/Arlene stumped my A memory. On the the B’s: Belinda, Barb, Bette, Bathsheba, Blair and the two Bambis. Oddly the Bambis were twins differentiated by a different middle name: Bambi Juanita and Bambi Yvonne.
No, I never had them both at the same time. Don’t even go there.

An interval. A move, perhaps, a job change, or just a dry spell (I don’t like admitting to those).

When Candace entered my world. The C column turns out considerably shorter than I anticipated. Possibly due to the lengthy amount of Candy in my life. After, were Calista, Carol and Carly.

At this point let me make things clear: none came via alphabetical order or any logical reasoning. Each represented herself, and herself, exclusively. Each was a fresh burst of blood coursing through my veins. Elation. I searched for that but could only come up with elusive.

Alone in your bed, with the rains howling, the night can be long. Here, where a reservoir hides behind a looming mountain, weather becomes an adversary. Which carries me back to my A list. Surely there were other A’s that have slipped my mind.

Without warning, my mind list-jumps to Zelda. She was my incomparable pet. A true French poodle of a woman. When she admitted to being a Kansas transplant, the world fell flat. Flat as Kansas. I didn’t even look for a pooper-scooper, just tossed her out of my life. Don’t judge me.

I need fresh meat. My chops (the C list), my steaks (the S list), my chicken (that C again), my veal (I just can’t give it up), my lamb (the L list), and who can forget my pork? A succulent pork roast stuffed and baked. That’s a man meal.

Don’t make me over. My beans and my franks. Always keep the pot at a low boil.

 

Photography © Su Red

Photography © Su Red

 

Susan Tepper is the author of four published books of fiction and a chapbook of poetry. Her column Let’s Talk is a monthly feature at Black Heart Magazine, and she’s founder/host of FIZZ a reading series at KGB Bar, NYC. Her sixth book dear Petrov</em (Pure Slush Books) was published in February 2016.

Su Red is an artist of various mediums, currently residing in the NYC area. You can see more of her work here.

 

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