MACK’S TROUBLE • by Shelley Spedowfski

The sky opened up, the light shone down, the surgeons got distracted, and Mack made his escape.

As he lurched down the wide, white hallways, the excitement wore off. The depression rushed in immediately. Stomach would miss the other organs, even as beaten, sick, and grumpy as they were. He almost turned around.

Then those horrible clenches came back, the ones that felt like he was turning inside out.

No, there was no peace for him there.

Mack grumbled down sidewalks that scratched him, past dogs that tried to eat him, and human organisms who glared at him with disgust. He found his way to a bar for creatures like himself.

Though the walls were painted festive red and yellow tones, and jukeboxes trilled happy tones in the corner, the bar’s patrons hunched moodily over their drinks. They looked friendly as cats in a car wash.

The bartender was a liver, and introduced himself as “Phil”. Mack felt homesick to see those four reddish lobes. One of them squeezed limes into a flat dish while another dipped margarita glasses into the juice, them rimmed them in salt.

The liver eyeballed him. “You’re the saddest organ I’ve ever seen. You won’t last long on the outside.”

Mack looked at the little oyster-shaped crackers on the bar and felt himself turn. “Lonely ain’t natural for an organ,” he agreed.

Phil leaned over. “See that organism over there? The one in the corner? Maybe he can help you.”

The man hunched in a ball because of the low ceiling and clenched a black jacket around him. He wore sunglasses and a moustache. He tapped the ash of his cigarette onto the floor.

Mack sloshed over. “I need a home. Barkeep says you can help.”

The man snorted. “No good, hoss. No point trying to traffic stomachs these days, market’s too small, doctors don’t use ‘em enough yet. But if you got any kidneys friends, you just send ‘em my way. Meantime, why don’t you look online?”

There was a single laptop on a card table in the back, but Mack just gave is a sarcastic laugh. And how, just how, was he supposed to type?

He slumped onto a chair and moaned. He had been a faithful servant of his organism. He endured patiently through the super-sour candy phase, then the phase of eating enough for six people at one time, then the binge drinking, and even the four-fancy-coffees-per-day phase. But this last one, the one that made him twist, turn, and burn all day and all night… he thought it might be the end of him.

Mack had never thought of himself as a deserter. In this cold outside world, the lonely stomach felt like a heel.

He was designed to be faithful, and that’s what he would be.

Mack returned to the hospital. He lurched back down the hallway, in time to see a couple organisms in white outfits arguing in the hallway.

“This is unbelievable, Henderson!” roared a bearded one to a younger, beardless organism. “You lost it? First that colon last week, now a stomach? Should I be wary for his spleen too? Henderson, you’re fired!”

Beardless turned and moped away, and just as the bearded one was about to return to the operating room, a female organism ran up to him.

“It’s Paraquat,” she said. “An herbicide. He’s been poisoned. Looks like it’s been happening for a while in small doses.”

Mack shook himself from his shock. The organism had its answer! The pain would stop! He could go… home! His acid sloshed happily.

And as an added plus, that dreadful harpy of a girlfriend would soon be history! Mack hated her from the get-go. She put hot sauce on his organism’s food.

He scooted his way back home to a future of warm broth and crackers and playing cards with Karl the Kidney.

Shelley Spedowfski is happiest making bread dough, gardening in soft soil, and knitting baby blankets for charity while thinking of new and unusual ways to kill people. In her murder mysteries, of course.

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