Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Mouthful of Macho

I was digging through some archive CDs and discovered some bits and pieces from a creative writing class I took back in 2004. This was an exercise about evoking the sensory aspects of a memory from your childhood. The only requirement was it had to be 200 words or less.

A Mouthful of Macho

It’s late summer, the taffy afternoon stretching endlessly. There’s nothing to do in this small town, so a pack of barely-teenaged boys are roaming the neighborhood streets. One of the boys is actually a girl and that girl is me.

It’s lunchtime. Being teens, we are hungry all the time. Preternaturally hungry and beginning to sense it’s not just food we are hungry for. We walk by a dead raccoon.

“I’m hungry enough,” I boast, “to eat that roadkill.”

“Yeah right!”

“I used to eat raw hamburger, but Mom made me stop. Said I’d get worms.”

“So? DARE you to eat it.”

“No way!”

“You said! What? You a gir—a chickenshit?”

Great. I’ll be a chickenshit. Even worse, I’ll be a girl.

The raccoon’s entrails are strewn like meaty confetti around the animal. I briefly wonder how much it hurts to get run over.

The guys are waiting. Nonchalantly as possible, I reach into the raccoon’s burst-open belly, to discover it’s hard to grip raccoon guts. I keep plucking at the stringy flesh, like some demented charnel house harpist. I was wrong--roadkill is NOT like raw hamburger. Finally, a brownish-red gobbet gives way. The guys are staring at me.

I glare back as I chew with determined, oversized chomps. The flesh is gristly and squeaks out from between my teeth, skidding across my tongue. It smells like menstrual blood, road tar, and fur. It tastes like the hot copper of a nosebleed with a faint overblown sweetness of rot. I swallow. We all wait to see if I will puke. My stomach churns but I keep everything down. The guys are agog, unable to believe what they’ve just seen me do.

For lunch, we go to a pizza joint. The guys buy me my slices, something they’ve never done before.

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