Enough Change for a Cheeseburger

In the dark recesses of the gullet and soul, there were many kinds of hunger that could consume a person and leave them dry heaving and dissected, mouths gaping, souls burning and empty without the flicker of light that promised salvation. There was the hunger of greed, the pangs for more and more, the pernicious prick of pride in the side and chest, more powerful than the thumping of the human heart. There was the hunger for power, for prestige, for respect or condemnation or savage voraciousness and cruelty, depending on each individual’s preferences towards masochism or sadism. And then there was cannibalism.

Cannibalism was a strange word and a strange thing, not too common and yet not as uncommon as one would think when they roved the streets in a taxi with a stranger, sat down to sushi, or confused the word with something having to do with cannonballs. I had not felt the first stings of this strange passion (perversion? That’s what my former colleagues referred to it as) until I met Abraham and Samuel, two individuals with whom I felt a closer kinship with than my own family, who might also now be referred to in the former.

I’m not sure if they found me, or if I found them, or if fate found us and decided to strangle us with the string in its wicker knitting basket, for I am an unassuming person and you most likely passed me on the streets not too long ago. I am slight but not too slender as to seem unearthly, have hair that is neither blonde nor brown, not that anyone would stop to make the distinction. My eyes could be green, or brown, or the consistency of swamp water, a real nondescript sort of color that brings to mind the murkiness of pond scum. On overcast days I wear grey to blend in with the scenery, on sunny days I wear muted colors so I don’t seem odd. I really didn’t have much in the way of the spectacular or extraordinary, and yet the pair found me one day, sat me down, and had me dine with them.

And now they wanted to devour me.

I suppose it would be hypocritical to say the least if I proffered the notion that I was opposed to the idea, seeing as there were plenty of unsuspecting dwellers in my basement whose remnants were strung up like meat on hooks – poor simile, for they unfortunately were little more than scraps of flesh on bits of nails at this point: A person has to eat after all. I don’t want to come across as a bad person, but I’d hate to take part in the dreadful play of irony that should occur if the cannibal was eaten by cannibals. Plus, to be honest to myself at least, I’m a little afraid of forks and other dining utensils at this point. You can only watch a tine gouge an eyeball so many times before it starts to make you cringe with discomfort, and believe me, I have seen it done plenty of times.

I’m not sure why I’m telling you all of this, or why I let you into my car to begin with. Poor little hitchhiker. Didn’t your parents or modern pop culture ever tell you it’s a bad idea to get into strange vehicles with strangers with strange habits from strange lands? I’m not even sure why you’re still trying to claw at that window. I already told you it was locked and at this rate you’re going to get more blood on the upholstery from your broken nails. Why am I keeping you here, you ask? Do I plan on eating you as I have done to countless others? The thought has crossed my mind, but you don’t look particularly appetizing at the moment. Butchery was usually Samuel’s job, and they never let me around the meat unless it was already dead. I’m a practical person, not a murderer. And yes, there is a fine distinction and if you want to get snippy I can lock you in the trunk, you ungrateful bastard.

Perhaps you’re here because I hope to exchange you for me when Abraham and Samuel catch up to me. I know they will. Maybe the only problem with that plan is that they will recognize my car and I need to switch to a bus soon. I’m not sure how I’m going to keep you with me on public transportation though. Put on a white outfit and claim I’m taking you to the looney bin?

Now, now. Don’t say I belong there. Tis very rude and my patience is running thin like that stream of fear-induced urine trickling down your thigh. Please stop ruining my upholstery. Goodness knows there are only so many times bodily fluids can be washed out of it before the fabric starts to wear a little too ragged for my tastes. Do you wish to stop for food? I have enough change for a cheeseburger.

—by Heather Dewey

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