Content Warnings: graphic descriptions of cannibalism
Her face is the prettiest when rusted with blood.
She’s wearing a clear raincoat, the cadaver within like meat bleeding out of a plastic bag, folds of fat and lumps of muscle seared with wounds cut against the grain. Her teeth peek behind her crusted lips craned in a smile, her breath the smell of pennies as I put my fingers on her chest and monitor her pulse. Her heartbeat is slow, stagnant, staccato. A red sonatina orchestrates around her as I lap her up, notes of silver on my black tongue.
I am an ugly man. My hair is an oil spill, my eyes are shadows without brows and my high cheekbones are riddled with acne. My image is a descendant of a Chippewa chieftain, but my skin is pale and rather sickly. The shirt I am wearing is of a metal band since I was unable to find Mozart in the thrift shop, and my jeans have the texture of bandaids ripped off the skin. The fabrics loosely clothe my rotten skeleton underneath, stripped bare of any muscle. I say this all objectively; my bathroom mirror cannot lie.
Before I depart my city-suburban home, I slide into my mother’s heeled boots and clomp out of the building. I am 207 centimeters with them, a behemoth to be revered as I march down the Tittabawassee and as the homeless saltines snap their necks to watch. If they can admire me, they can also cower before me. But when?
I dream of the day when the sun ripens into strawberries over the humble buildings and melts the mud-drifted snow, and when I can write stories about Saginaw instead of detailing the abandoned buildings and businesses, and when an ugly beast crawls into this empty husk and devours the bodies of all people inside. When blood rains from the sky and the citizens enter a dancing plague to entertain him. And of course, the beast shall be me.
I go to the local Walmart and trudge my cart through the parking lot, wheels trilling upon the patches of brown ice on the pavement. The people are vacant souls, any shred of personality being frostbitten by the blistering cold, yet are oddly proportioned just like me. It is off putting. To remember that the wrinkled middle aged Bump-It wearing blonde barbies aren’t satire, that the men who are insanely obese bean bags aren’t Hollywood actors in fatsuits, and the children wailing aren’t in a fire, although I would very much like them to be.
The pretty people are even weirder; I am convinced they come here to look at us like zoo animals. I know that the white girls with tattoos on their lower backs and their waffle fried boyfriends slung around their waists aren’t here for groceries. They are here for Youtube videos and plan to film us like Animal Planet, taking turns riding in the carts and licking ice cream from their compartments and putting them back.
Those are the people I would like to eat the most. Their meat is moist and tender, young and soft like baby goats and when spiced and well done they are the most satisfactory. Especially when watching television. They provide a healthy change to the programming: the star football player absent from an integral game or the prom queen going missing at midnight. Anything to get this drab Midwestern town to show any signs of color.
However, I shall hold off for today.
There is a meal awaiting me at the rear end of the store, next to a dumpster filled with the remains of what people don’t want to buy. Marked down Ben and Jerry’s, holy pantyhose, paperback classics and a dead body.
I will name this one Sheila in my mind, but will never say it aloud. The moment the sound comes from my lips, the taste leaves my tongue. It would be such a waste. Her parts look delicious.
There is blood on my chin. The police have arrested me and the news is filming me like a movie star on the red carpet. They survey every detail: my pale skin, the band Death Grips on my t-shirt, my skeletal figure and construct a bildungsroman of my wretched character- the perfect outcast to villain story. I smile with red crusted teeth and make sure they get a good look.
They ignore the girl behind me, don’t even bother to say her real name and keep crying Shattered Sheila- a marketable catchphrase for the media. The moment the killer comes on screen, they don’t care about the victim.
They only see the ribbons of blood pooling, the lacework of guts on the concrete, the object of their fear. They only see their mutilation.
Cameras flash and snap like the jaws of Dobermans, silhouettes of reporters behind them as the cops cuff me and show me off like I’m their prey. Ironic.
I take a bite of Officer McKinley, his name and taste on my tongue, teeth digging into his buff upper arm. Red cascades down his skin and flattens his grey body hairs as he lets out a howl under the full moon. He faints and aches in pain, the wound revealing the ivory shimmer of bone. The reporters back away: click, click, click, snap, snap, snap- eating up seconds of the scene before the other policemen can restrain me and stuff me into their childish metal contraption. I wave bye bye and imagine how fearsome I shall soon be.
The dancing plague shall begin on TV screens, all of them watching me. Watching me as I feast. I know…
My face is the handsomest when rusted with blood.