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Organ Grinder

'Tis better to give than receive? Ted says, Fuck that shit. Give me back what's mine.

Ted, we at the FFO offices are politically correct. So how do we say this? No one likes a Native American giver...

Organ Grinder by Bruce Harris




After killing a fifth beer I decided to kill Cal. It didn’t matter that he was my best friend and the best man at my wedding. A decade ago I gave the guy a kidney to save his life. I was happy to do it. But the more I thought about it, the more I remembered just how happy Jacquie had been about my decision to save his life. I never thought the two of them would go behind my back. Who am I kidding? Why the hell wouldn’t she go for him? Cal stood well over six feet, was good with his hands, and successful. He made more money in a year running a highly profitable hedge fund than I pulled down in ten years chasing the American dream.

All I ever wanted was to grow old with Jacquie and retire to a nice little cabin or bungalow in upstate New York. Cabins and bungalows cost money. Jacquie and I went through the little we earned faster than a young Willie Pep. I began to see a pattern about a year ago. A guy can tell when something’s not right with his wife. Jacquie was still a knockout. The red hair that hung to her tanned shoulders and jiggled in step with her chest still excited me after all of these years. Men couldn’t keep their eyes off her Rockette-like legs. Cal wasn’t blind. Maybe he thought I was. Bullshit. Their hugging removed all doubt, as if I had any remaining. I’d seen them embrace, in my own home!

I ordered a sixth beer.

Jacquie would disappear for hours on end, especially weekends. When I tried Cal’s number, same shit. Unreturned voicemails. Their glances and giggles were as revealing as ghost catfishes. If I questioned her about Cal, she’d turn the same color as her hair. She’d say I was silly. Foolish. I’d almost gotten into it once with Cal. He first thought I was joking, but then tried to turn the tables around on me and said I was acting like a jackass. Well, this jackass put down a final brew and headed to Cal’s place.

***

“I want it back. Now.”

Cal stood at the door. He had a glass of whiskey in his hand. I saw a half empty bottle on a mahogany console under a gold-framed original Matisse. He was taken aback, but quickly composed himself. Cal was always good at recovery. “Ted. Come in. Want what back?”

My shoes made a tapping sound on the polished hardwood. I could see into Cal’s kitchen, bright and airy, wine rack fully stocked, pots and pans dangling like Christmas ornaments, a nice selection of knives. All shapes and sizes of knives, from the smallest used to fine-cut onionskin to a cleaver that could hack through a half-frozen turkey, all domiciled in their own little corner of the kitchen. The blades sparkled like Jacquie’s smile. I didn’t need any of them. I brought my own hunting knife. Doctor Ted, the surgeon.

“I want my fucking kidney back, Cal.”

Ice cubes clicked as he took a sip of his drink. “What are you talking about?”

“My kidney. I may have one kidney, but I still have two eyes.”
 
“Are you drunk? What’s this all about?”

“Jacquie!” I screamed at the top of my lungs as I stuck the knife deep into his side.

The whiskey glass shattered on the floor. While the bastard’s eyes were still wide in disbelief, I threw a right into his mouth, cutting my knuckles against jagged edges of incisors, which now busted and stained a lipstick red. He choked. Blood gurgled from his mouth. I put my hands behind his head and jerked his face forward as I brought up my knee. I heard the sickening crack of his nose as it flattened sweetly across his face. While he lay face down, I played Jack the Ripper, savagely slicing along his scar line and yanking out the kidney that once filtered my own blood.

***

Next was Jacquie’s turn. I didn’t want to kill that beautiful thing, but she’d have to pay too.

I rubbed the raw kidney, now resembling a gob of silly putty, in her face and told her what it was. I laughed my ass off as she began dry heaving.

“C’mon,” I said. “We’re going for a ride.”

“Where—where are we going?”

“You’re taking me to your little hideaway. You know, where you and the former Cal had your little weekly dalliances.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about. There was nothing going on between Cal and me! Are you out of your mind?”

We drove north of town. I made her drive while I kept the knife at her side.

About forty-five minutes later, Jacquie pulled to a stop and we exited the car.

We were at an opening in the woods in upstate New York. About five hundred feet in front of us stood a newly constructed cabin. All wood. Small tool shed on the side. I got sick thinking about Jacquie and Cal in this place together.

“Move,” I told her. “I want to see the inside. I want to see where you betrayed me, Jacquie.”

Her cheeks were redder than her hair, chapped from constant tears streaming. Bloodstains from the kidney slap were still visible on her face, too.

“Open it,” I said.

She fumbled in her pocket for a key and pushed the door.

I felt sick. There were balloons and a big sign.

Welcome to your new retirement home, Ted.

It was signed, “Your ever-loving wife, Jacquie.”

“Cal built this for you,” she whispered. “We worked on it together. It was his way of paying you back for giving him his life. He paid for everything, Ted.”

*

The first third of a knife is excruciating. After it's thrust deep enough to reach the ticker, though, it becomes painless.


Bruce Harris is the author of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson: About Type (www.batteredbox.com). He enjoys relaxing with a Marxman.