CLARICE • by Martin Chandler

Clarice was the kind of child who enjoyed picking out the soft insides of a bun. That’s what made her ideal for performing autopsies. The human body is rather like a hot dog bun, she used to say. The skin is the slightly denser crust of the bun. But once you slit it down the middle, the softer, more delicious parts are revealed, in all their juicy glory.

She remembered her first experience dissecting a bun. She had found an encyclopedia showing the entire human anatomy, and had been so entranced that she studied it for hours. She wished for a cadaver of her own, to play with. When she asked for one for Christmas, her parents laughed at the silly games their daughter loved to play with them. So she took a hot dog bun and, drawing a face with a sharpie, proceeded with the Y incision on its sternum. A Y incision doesn’t work overly well on a hot dog, but she managed to pry it open, and began removing small pieces. She would pull it apart piece by piece, shaping each into a tiny organ. Later, she put the whole bun back together, each little organ in its appropriate spot, except for the liver. She returned the bun to the bag.

When she asked for a cadaver again for her 11th birthday, her parents grew concerned.

It didn’t take long for Clarice to graduate from autopsies on buns, to autopsies on small animals. She never killed them herself, mind you. She only took ones that were already dead, and tried to figure out how they died. She soon became quite good, and the neighbourhood kids would bring her any critters they found, to watch the master at work. She would dissect them, make her pronouncements, and put them back together, stitching them up with her mother’s needle and thread. None in her audience knew enough about anatomy to check that all the pieces were present.

When she reached university, she began to study forensic science with gusto. Her professors were amazed at how fast she learned, and how adept she was with the scalpel. Years of training do help one.

Graduating top of her class, she was offered a position straight out of university, working for the local police department. She took it. Being the last person to open up the dead bodies, no one ever noticed how few healthy livers made it out of her workspace.

And still, Clarice slices opens her buns. She makes a single vertical incision now, rather than the Y. But always, she reaches in, and pulls out a small piece. She shapes it in to a liver. She places it in her mouth, before greedily attacking the rest of the bun, devouring it whole. Her cravings are getting worse, and this delights her.

Martin Chandler is a writer and composer from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is currently dodging cars in Monterey, California.

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