FICTION January 7, 2011

What They Did with the Body

Sally, Warren's wife, offered to prepare him a bowl of menudo and cook the intestine inside it, to disguise his brother's flesh. "I'm going to put my toe in the mulch," she said, "so at least a part of Hal can become one again with nature." She did not believe in Voodoo, but in gardening. There were soiled rubber work gloves scattered all over their home, and she liked to pour her homemade ice tea from a watering can with a sunflower painted on the side. Warren didn't mind picking leaves from her hair because she looked sweet in overalls.

Warren said, "The body should be devoured raw. Fire cooks away the spirit. It leaves with the steam." The intestine was sitting on a plate in front of him, which was smeared with some watery blood. He tried to imagine how it would feel in his mouth. Probably, he thought, like biting your own cheek – except that he would need to push through.

And it was going to be cold. He adjusted his bifocals. The world shifted around his eyes.

"You're having second thoughts," said Sally.

"Do you remember when I first brought you home?"

"He couldn't take his eyes off me."

"Later he said I should be grateful you were willing to go with a guy like me."

"Is that why you voted against your brother?"

"Not at all," said Warren. "It was only something I remembered about him just now."

Their daughter came in through the front door and left her muddied shoes on the tile floor of the entry way. She hung her dripping yellow coat on the rack. "It's raining," she said.