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Karma at the Charlie Hotel: Fiction by Louella Lester
Acceptable Margin of Inventory Loss: Fiction by Charlie Kondek
The Racing Rocks: Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Preacher Woman of Reverie, Oklahoma: Fiction by Ann Marie Potter
Justice Served: Fiction by Glen Bush
A Broken String of Love Beads: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Revenge and Redemption: Fiction by Walt Trizna
Thirst: Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
The Solar Punks: Fiction by James Blakey
Rito Was a High Number: Fiction by Fred Andersen
The Parcel: Fiction by Robb White
Red Wine and Cyanide: Fiction by Adrian Fahy
The Crowd: Fiction by Jack Garrett
The Offal Truth: Fiction by Scott MacLeod
Madam Maree Sees Your Future: Flash Fiction by Jon Park
Wereworm: Flash Fiction by Daniel G Snethen
Promises: Flash fiction by Richard Brown
No Need to Cry: Flash Fiction by Zvi A. Sesling
The Classy Woman: Flash Fiction by William Kitcher
oh how i wish: Poem by Rob Plath
Bird in Flight, Nullarbor Plain, 1967: Poem by John Doyle
Pools: Poem by Bernice Holtzman
I Exist Inside an Invisible Poem Everlasting & Overflowing: Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Let me drop the last chapter: Poem by Partha Sarkar
Excursion: The Cruise Ship Chronicles: Poem by Jake Sheff
We'll Always Have Two Things to Hold: Poem by Chandu Govind
why nothing else matters: Poem by John Sweet
the pale grey light of forgotten afternoons: Poem by John Sweet
Orchestra Class: Poem by Elizabeth Zelvin
The Old Lady Shows Her Mettle: Poem by Elizabeth Zelvin
Eggs Over Easy: Poem by Peter Mladinic
Pretty Face: Poem by Peter Mladinic
Another Saturday Night: Poem by Richard LeDue
My Death Knells: Poem by Richard LeDue
Poems as Cheap as Christmas Lights: Poem by Richard LeDue
Dead Work: Poem by John Grey
How He Died: Poem by John Grey
The Man in Their Midst: Poem by John Grey
First at Pimlico: Poem by Craig Kirchner
4 AM: Poem by Craig Kirchner
Leap Year: Poem by Craig Kirchner
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Strange Gardens
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Scott MacLeod: The Offal Truth

Art by John Sowder 2024

The Offal Truth

By Scott MacLeod



There was Tanner’s mom preparing to spoon up the runny tuna casserole into the chunky green plastic bowl. Her garish Avon slotted spoon with the faux quartz handle pierced the skin on the whitish surface which was bedecked with 4 frighteningly orange squares of American cheese arrayed like processed banners in a stiff breeze. Tanner jerked awake from this recurring nightmare.

“Never again,” he thought, rolling over to call to confirm tonight’s reservation at Anton’s.

That night, Tanner made a scene at Anton’s, as usual. Loudly oohing and aahing about the tripe. Braying over the sweetbreads. It was off-putting to the mostly expat diners and Parisian staff, especially the chef, Anton himself.

“Never again,” Anton thought.

After that night no matter how hard he tried, Tanner could find no open reservation at Anton’s. The restaurant eschewed Open Table or similar online services so could easily control the process through the house phone. Tanner faced cool denials of any plot against him when he inquired in person.

As Tanner grew more and more desperate for variety meats, he turned to his boyhood pal, Coolie.  Coolie was a knockaround guy, not a made man but adjacent. He could get a job done or find the people who could.

“I’m dying for some pluck, organ meat to you,” said Tanner. “I can’t eat like a plebian. I won’t. Anton seems to have banned me and looks like he has put out the word to his suppliers to keep me on the “pay me no mind” list as well. Passable liver I can find at my butcher, but I need you to use your dark arts to procure me some kidney.”

In this case Coolie farmed out the task to a trusted associate. The order percolated down the chain until finally Tanner was told to be home the following Tuesday and to expect a visitor regarding his special request.

When Tanner’s doorbell rang that Tuesday night, he flung open the apartment door excitedly, only to be roughly tossed to the floor by a hulking man. The brute held in one hand a long syringe and in the other a crumpled notecard that held only Tanner’s address and the notation “Kidney Delivery”.

Tanner awoke the next afternoon in a haze of agony. Most of the blood had been cleaned up admirably and things might have passed for normal if not for the blinding pain and the fresh foot long incision on his flank.

It appeared Tanner had been done in by another organ meat in short supply. Brains.

Clearly there had been some crossed wires on the assignment. Maybe the request had passed through too many hands and became subverted from gluttony to trafficking. Maybe one of the delegees thought “procure” meant sell, not buy. But Coolie was devastated, as a matter of personal heartache for his old friend even more than from tarnished professional pride.  He was as gutted figuratively as his buddy was literally. He was determined to make right this fiasco.

The following night, Tanner was resting after a long day at the hospital confirming his condition was survivable. In the ER he answered a bellyful of police questions, but he held his tongue. Around 10:00 Coolie announced himself at Tanner’s door. Down one kidney but still a mensch, Tanner invited his childhood amigo to let himself in with the key under the mat. Tanner expected another long and anguished apology. What he got instead was his second shock of the week when he registered that Coolie was accompanied by the same gorilla who stole his kidney, who again plunged in a huge hypodermic sending Tanner to la-la land.

When Tanner awoke, he looked up into blinding lights. He seemed to be in some kind of makeshift field hospital. He felt the familiar burn under his ribs and was flummoxed to find when he peeked under his gown a brand-new scar an inch away and parallel to the still fresh one from his attack.

“Mornin’ pardner,” said a groggy Coolie from the next bed. “Bro,” he continued, “when I saw what happened to you, on my watch, I had to make it right. The goons who hijacked you still had enough traces of your blood and tissue to test that I would be a compatible donor. We had to cut another hole in you to put mine in, sorry for that, but now I’ve got a scar to match. When they gave me the green light, I knew I had to do it. I still got one left, that’s plenty.”

“You knocked me out!” protested Tanner.

“I didn’t want to give you any chance to refuse.”

“So let me get this straight,” said Tanner, also still loopy from the procedure. “Because a job I gave you cost me a kidney, you had these butchers cut out one of your own and replace mine?”

“Affirmative,” said his pal. “Happy to do it. Just like the Bible says, ‘an eye for an eye’.”

“How can you afford this?” asked Tanner, still getting his bearings.  

“Not to worry. The guys who worked you over by mistake felt bad and agreed to pick up the tab. They provided their docs and facilities for free.”

“How can I ever thank you?” croaked Tanner, now sniffling.

“Not needed my blood brother, just trying to make us square and make you whole, so to speak. Just promise me one thing. From now on you stick to meatloaf.”

Scott MacLeod is a father of two who writes in Oviedo, Florida. His work has appeared in Gumshoe Review and Short-Story.Me. He can be found at http://www.facebook.com/scott.macleod.334.

From the hollows of Kentucky, John Sowder divides his spare time between creating art for Sugar Skull Press and working on various cryptid-themed projects.  He illustrated GEORGE THE HOLIDAY SPIDER by Rick Powell, which is due November of this year.  You can see more of his art at www.deviantart.com/latitudezero  

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2024