A story from another book of short stories I am working on. The book title is Damned Yankee Buttons
Tastes Like Chicken
Just about every time I turn on water or stop to enjoy a gurgling stream, a message races to my brain, bypasses all the red tape, and says, “You have to pee.” There must be a name for that kind of auto-response. I discovered another one yesterday.
Henry, my eight-year-old grandson, likes the Triscuits and peanut butter “sandwiches” I fix to snack on when we go hiking in Kanawha State Forest.
The other day I fixed him another sandwich snack he likes—Charleston Bread Store multi-grain bread and peanut butter. In his snack-bag I included some loose Triscuits. He was disappointed that there was no peanut butter on the Triscuits. Genius that he is (I kid you not), he invented a new sandwich. He put Triscuits between the bread slices with the peanut butter. Henry smiled with inventor’s pride and declared it “awesome.”
Yesterday our trip to Kanawha State Forest was cancelled. For breakfast this morning, I ate the two small peanut butter sandwiches I had prepared for yesterday’s snack. But first, I remembered Henry’s delight in his invention (and that is what he called it). I got the box down and added Triscuits to the peanut butter sandwich. After a couple of chews of the crunchy Triscuit immersed in fat peanut butter and softened some by the bread, my brain said, “This is fried chicken.” It was crunchy like fried chicken and it was fat like fried chicken.
Yes! Now I can eat Henry’s invention and get the same pleasure as eating crunchy, fat, fried chicken. No more hiring an anonymous, apron bloodied butcher behind Kroger’s smiling avuncular front, to kill, scald, pluck and gut a fellow piece of meat.
Just once, I butchered another oxygen breathing, but not too smart, fellow earth-walker. I caught a noisy old guinea hen, cut its head off and watched it lurch headless around the yard. After scalding it with boiling water, I plucked it bald, sliced it open and pulled its guts out. I couldn’t eat it. Since then I have hired an executioner for my meals of flesh.
If I don’t have to rip the guts out, I can eat cooked flesh. But it must be well done. I want no blood dripping or pink reminding me of that tough old guinea hen.
Many years ago, on the farm at fall butchering time, before I became sensitive to the death of other animals and to seeing their guts pouring out of hung carcasses, grandpa threw the bladder of the dead hog to us kids. Through a hollow stickweed, we blew air into it and tied it off like a balloon, and kicked our “pigskin” up and down the hilly pasture.
Could all this be self-incriminating in future trials in which vegetarians bring charges of murder and mutilation of our fellow earth-walkers? Perhaps I can ask for mercy based on my preference for Triscuits, peanut butter, and multi-grain bread. I won’t tell them it tastes just like chicken.