The Defective Conversationalist

Fiction by Joe Lucido

It’s not rare for an internal organ to lope from my mouth in the middle of a conversation. I will feel it coming up like a burp, and then my hands are cupped before me, gathering my spleen against my body. I’m so sorry, I say to the interviewer through cords of tissue still joining the spleen to my insides. Let me tell you why I’m the man for the job, I continue, though I worry she can’t understand me anymore. She appears pretty ill herself. Somebody call somebody! she shouts. Meanwhile, my mouth contains a fair amount of blood, which I try not to spit on her tidy desk and official-looking cardstock documents. Wait! I say, as I bring my spleen back to my mouth. Let me just swallow this! I stuff my spleen into my mouth and do my best not to nick it with my teeth. All the while I shoot her an encouraging look. I manage to gag it back down. Sorry! I say, swiping a tissue from her desk. You were asking me about my qualities? I say, wiping blood from a picture of her and her daughter. I say something about adversity and my ability to overcome it. I say something about guts and cleaning, but it’s clear I won’t be getting the gig. Hey, I say, at least it wasn’t my heart this time, ha ha ha ha ha!

Joe Lucido lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he teaches in the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project and is the fiction editor of the Black Warrior Review. His work appears or is forthcoming in Whiskey Island, Word Riot, Hobart, SmokeLong Quarterly, apt Online, and others. He grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis.