She hasn’t consumed animal protein in twelve years, three months, and eight days. Not since she tossed her cookies in Denny’s parking lot. Grand slam, right there on the asphalt. It’s been all “fresh this” and “raw that” ever since.
Myself, I can smell seared animal tissue a mile a way. My spatula starts to twitch and bottles of barbecue sauce dance in my head. She sees Bambi, I see venison. She sees dairy cows (dairy being evil once removed); I see prime rib.
We live in a small town, mostly carnivorous and heavily armed. Ninety percent of the local restaurants have no idea that some people don’t eat flesh, and she is often left with a small bit of green stuff on a plate as her only menu option. She patiently cuts a sunflower seed in half with her steak knife and tries to pick it up with her fork. She can’t get annoyed; she hasn’t the energy.
I try to keep the blood on my plate mopped up with bread so she doesn’t hurl again. I consume all my food and then we get dessert. I eat roughly thirteen times as much food as she does, as my blood sugar does a tour of Six Flags amusement park and the calories are continually metabolized and quickly replaced. I continue to grow; not in intellect, but intestine. Not in energy, but in mass.
“Can you bring me a glass of that bean juice?” I rib her as she opens a box of soy milk.
“Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer a nice glass of chocolate cow pus?” she sweetly retorts.
Soy protein must be the most tortured substance on the planet. It’s boiled and stretched, poked, prodded, stained, rolled and pressed—all to disguise it as meat—something the people who eat it claim to be disgusted by. Why don’t they just call a bean a bean and get over it? I have tried roasting enough miniature presto logs over a campfire to know that meat is the only thing that really works for that. Have a nice bowl of tofu chili and count the stars.
“The neighbor’s dog is hanging around the garage,” she calls out to me as she comes in the front door with an armload of celery stalks and beet greens. In fact, there are a bunch of dogs hanging around. “And is the garage door opener broken?”
“No, Babe. My buddy Steve found a good deal on a side of beef, so I got one too. They’re both hanging in there. Guy’s gonna cut ‘em up tomorrow. I turned the power off out there so you wouldn’t drive into them. Bruises, ya know.”
“There’s a dead cow hanging in our garage?”
“Just the meat, Babe, just the meat.”
The sound of barking distracts her long enough for me to get away, as Champ, my Golden Retriever, tries to defend his territory from the hungry pack that is gathering in the driveway. He has run out of urine, and is running circles around the garage, looking worried. The other dogs bide their time. It’s going to be a long night, Champ.
Four a.m., she hears the sirens before I do, and pokes me awake. I had been dreaming that I was at Pearl Harbor during the attack, and the air raid sirens were blaring over the sounds of crashing and screaming. The clock says four, but it looks like daylight in my driveway. A quick peek out the bedroom window answers my first groggy questions and elicits about a hundred new ones.
“What the hell are the police doing here? Is that an ambulance pulling in?”
Nimbly slipping backward into my jeans, I make for the door. She is not trying to be the first one out.
The police are already at the door when I open it.
“Looks like you had a prowler,” the cop says, grinning. “But your dogs made a pretty good mess of him. How many dogs do you have, anyway?”
I look across my driveway to see my cousin Floyd being bandaged by a paramedic while another cop looks on.
At the sight of me, Floyd becomes agitated.
“What the hell, Jack! I told you I was coming to get those duck decoys this morning! And what’s wrong with your damn garage lights? Somebody else was already in there, and they grabbed me when I went in. Two big guys, all cold and clammy, and I swear they was naked. I was holdin’ my own against them though, until those damn dogs got into it. What the hell, Jack! Are you runnin’ a frigging kennel?”
The dogs are nowhere to be seen. Still in the garage, I’m guessing. I turn to see Green Girl smirking and shaking her head.
“Maybe you should start breakfast.” I say. “How are we fixed for soy sausage?”