Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
  • Home
  • About
  • Archive
  • Bio Notes
  • Bookshelf
  • Contents
  • Submit
Flash Fiction
552 words
SHJ Issue 3
Spring 2011

Back With Glorian

Hank Pugh

Glorian was tall and stately, never married, and well beyond the Italian ideal of half my age plus ten years. Her searing ferocity in the protection of her legal aid clients was a wonder to me. But more wonderful still was the unexpected and lovely tenderness toward them that sometimes brought her to tears at their poverty and hopelessness. She was spirited and the brightest person I have ever known. And so she was dangerous for me, a man whose spirit had settled long ago.

Just before she went away, I made her dinner. Foolishly assuming she would eat like a girl, I prepared girl food: a salad to start, a fruit tart to finish, barely steamed asparagus for contorni, no carbohydrates of course, and a roast chicken (for, after all, what is more delicious than a perfectly roasted fryer). From this I planned to carve her a boneless, skinless, tasteless breast, and reserve the boy food for me and Fumble, my chocolate lab. Foolishness spilled over into rudeness when I removed the bird from the oven and plucked the heart, liver, neck, and gizzards out of the redolent, yellow liquid and shared them with Fumble, who had, from long practice, developed a certain proprietary interest in these parts.

Glorian let this thoughtlessness pass without comment.

I carved the chicken, peeled the skin from a breast and placed the breast on her plate with some asparagus. I put some dark meat and the back — my secret and special indulgence — on mine.

When Glorian realized that I was going to eat the back, she spoke. “Oh, no, no, no,” she said swallowing her champagne, “that will never do. If you think you are eating that back alone, you are sadly mistaken.”

“Well,” I said. “I would never eat a back in polite company. I was just sort of getting it out of the way.”

She smiled at me over the rim of the flute, skewering me with her lovely eyes. “We are past polite,” she said, “we’ll eat it together.”

Now people who eat chicken backs are hard to find, rare as hen’s teeth, one might say. We are the benighted folk who delight in crab mustard, glands, and stinky little fish. When we find one of our own, especially one of the other sex, it is a delight almost beyond words. So it was that Glorian and I pushed our thumbs under the scallops on either side of the bird to free those incomparable delicacies from their perfect nests. We dragged our fingers over the scapulae to pull just the right amount of fatty meat off the carcass, and popped the bones into our mouths to suck them clean of the sweet flesh. She gasped, then smiled, when I turned the body over and, sliding my finger under the rosy mass nestled against the backbone, held the food to her lips to take in and relish. The pope’s nose vanished in a final, gustatory division of the spoils. She insisted that I eat the little bit of cartilage that divides the perfect lobes.

Afterward, we stood at the sink, our hips lightly touching, and washed each other’s hands in the flow of the warm, soapy water. And when she kissed me, it was delicious.

—Previously published in 322 Review (Summer 2010)

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury