Piecemeal
J. Snow

I ain't start that day wonderin' what human meat tastes like. It was just an unfortunate, or fortunate — however ya wish to look at it in that moment — set of circumstances.

Got my lady love tattooed on my right arm. I carry her with me everywhere since her suicide. That night, she brought me a bit of trouble. Some things don't change.

It had been a shit day of rain and drizzlin' ice. I went to the pub for a bit of vodka. It warms the blood and gives the illusion of a full belly.

I ain't had food, real food, in months. I survive on what I scrape from dumpsters in the alley behind the row of restaurants below my tiny, government subsidized, studio apartment. The Italian place and the Chinese buffet throw out everything at the end of the night, but it's all tossed together, and the taste buds don't appreciate the mixed flavors of spaghetti sauce and chicken chow mein. Ya gotta root through to find anything that won't force itself straight up after landin' in your gut.

I was hungry. Always hungry. I just ain't remember that fact. After a while ya get desensitized to the pain. Like a smell in a room ya been in for hours, it disappears. Ya forget ya ain't eaten, and sure as shit, I done forgot and ordered my drink.

The man sittin' next to me at the bar turned himself in his chair to face me, jaw slack, no hint of emotion in his expression, just gapin' at me all trance-like and fixated on my lady all the while tuggin' on his tangled, gray beard. I let it go, avoided his stare cuz'a his age and all, but after a few drinks, I get easily angered. Four shots down, I turned to him with a simple, "What the fuck's ya problem?"

He lifted his eyes to mine and popped off with, "If that's your mama, you must be my boy."

He ain't say it in a hostile manner, but he ain't say it kind neither.

"Come again?" I was sure I done heard him wrong.

He repeated the words, but this time, he smirked, eyes shinin' like polished pennies. I've encountered his type before — lonely and lookin' for a fight to feel some sense of superiority, sometimes a connection, regardless how fragile.

I ain't scared of no fight. I done spent more time in prison than not and fightin' always been my way of life. So, I asked the old bastard to step outside. It's what he wanted; I was willin' to oblige.

He stumbled out the door behind me, hittin' his head on the edge of the frame. I should'a known then a fight was a stupid idea. Smashin' a drunk is like beating up a toddler. But vodka always gets the best of me. I didn't give a single fuck.

I threw my shirt to the ground. "Come at me, mothafucka!"

He crouched, fists up in front of his face, gigglin' like a schoolgirl'. He was out of his mind. I shoulda seen it.

I don't never throw the first punch. I wait for one to be thrown. Ya can size up a man and see his weakness if ya wait for him to make the first move. That's how ya the upper hand.

"You’re a little cunt just like your mama," he slurred, voice like barbed wire, and threw a jab. It was well wide and knocked him off balance. With the sharp sound of teeth cracking on concrete, he face-planted the sidewalk. I watched him struggle to get his feet back under him, but he was too slow, too sloppy. I ain't think it through before liftin' him up by his hair and smackin' him square in the throat with my balled fist. He crumpled like a house of cards when I let go of him, but this time, he ain't try to right himself.

It took me a minute as I hopped from foot to foot, fire burnin' in my blood. It took me a long minute in my rage to realize what done happened, that he won't gettin' get up without help.

"Fuck sake," I said out loud not meaning to. I took a quick survey of my surroundin's. Won't no one in sight. I thanked the seven levels of Hell but panicked all the same.

I drag him up three flights of stairs, glad I still had prison muscles cuz goddamn he was heavy as fuck all, and laid him in my bathtub then ran the cold shower water to revive him. I think I knew, but I ain't want to believe. It was his dull eyes, the way they looked through me as if I won't standin' in his view.

I ain't know what to do. I had a dead man in my tub.

I won't just gonna leave him there. I won't callin' the police. They'd never believe it was an accident, not with my record and history of violence. I won't draggin' him down the steps into public. I was lucky won't no one around when I dragged him up. I ain't got a car so won't takin' him off somewhere to dump. I was all kinds of fucked.

Then it struck me — I could carry him out in pieces!

I went to the kitchen to grab my carvin' knives and a pair of scissors. I cut his clothes off him but kept him in the tub to contain the blood sure to come. With his legs over the edge, I sawed through his thigh, close to the hip bone, with the biggest, serrated blade. Blood ain't spurt like I 'spected it to cuz his heart won't pumpin' it no more. It just slid down his leg and plopped onto the porcelain beneath him like he won't no more than a leaky faucet.

That's when the smell hit me, the smell of meat. I ain't realize I was salivatin', damn near droolin'. The hunger, oh how it hit me like a brick to the face. The pain of it was all consumin'. Right then everything slowed down. It was like I was movin' through water as I chopped him apart.

It was a simple thought that caused me to do the unthinkable: I wonder what human tastes like.

I ain't even cook the first couple of bites, just sliced off a sliver of meat below all the fat and tore right into it. Turns out human tastes quite tangy, kinda bitter when raw.

I still have half of him left in the freezer. Tonight, I'm fryin' up loin strips. Figure they'd be the best cuts. Thinkin' of sellin' some too, cookin' it up, packagin' it, sellin' it on the corner. Easy money. Don't no one need to know it's long pig. Best to stay outta trouble these days. I'll just tell 'em it's koala.

And I'll do as I done since that night — keep my lady love hidden under sleeves. Don't need no more trouble brought my way cuz'a her pretty face. Though I might need another man in the tub before long. He won't last. Everyone loves the exotic, and what's more exotic than koala?

Funny thing, I done forgot what hunger feels like. It took only minutes to get used to a full belly again, less to forget the first sting of blood on my tongue.