“Listen lady, nobody knows better than me that we’re livin’ during strange times, but that don’t mean I’m ‘bout’a let that thur old-school vintage nineteen’seventies souvenir illustrated Metropolitan Museum of Art blank recipe pad go for a shabby eight bucks. That sucker’s worth fifteen at least, ain’t nobody’s goin’ back in time just to get another one. Plus, you kn-you know, I’m not naïve. You’re gonna buy it from me and just double your money, just like the rest of the resale shmucks out here.”
Vallory doesn’t know what to say.
“Yeah, yeah that’s what’s going down. I know your type, lady. I know y’alls all too well because I used to be you. Do you know how much I made in a year slingin’ wares through Craigslist? Well? Do ya?!”
She’s not going to cry, she’s not letting this mean man get one over on her. Vallory is not going to cry.
“I made three-fifty! In profit! ”
Silence hangs heavily on the air. Vallory is currently the only shopper at this furry man’s garage sale; she was the only shopper when she parked her car and she’ll likely be the only shopper when she inevitably gets back into that car and gets herself home. It’s just her and him, just these two human beings standing on a lawn of chopped grass as the wind blows breezily and the rain threatens to pour and pour. If she speaks she’s going to cry and if she cries then the mean furry man will win, and that cannot happen. Vallory stands her ground, keeps her mouth shut, her eyes dry, her chin up.
Four minutes pass like this.
“Fine, you know what? Just fine,” concedes the furry man. “You win, you can take it… for ten. Do we have a deal?”
As it turns out, they do. Vallory takes her somewhat new old-school vintage 1970s souvenir illustrated Metropolitan Museum of Art blank recipe pad, shamelessly sprints to her car, hops in, hits the push-button start, and races towards the horizon.
Vallory Does Dinner
Sweet, savory barbecue sauce. Molten cheddar and mozzarella cheese. Buttery, grilled corn cobs. Cherry tomatoes and Parmesan cheese tossed into a vat of pasta shells and hit with a blowtorch to char. When Vallory does dinner, Vallory does not mess around.
“Val’,” gushes Manja as she attempts to work down a mouthful of this phenomenal pulled pork banquet Vallory threw together for them, “this food is phenomenal.”
A smile stretches for miles across Vallory’s face. “Well there’s plen’y more where that came from, butterbuns. Eat up!”
And to think, Manja almost didn’t come over tonight. She almost let the strange world she’s living on scare her out of spending a lovely evening with her best friend – her best friend since conception, mind you – eating delicious food and catching up after three months of not seeing each other. That’s just how Manja gets sometimes though, the state of the world troubles her very much. It wouldn’t if she didn’t spend so much time watching mainstream media and scrolling the social medias and waging full-on flame wars against random human beings who she’s never met over topics which she knows nothing about, but she does do all that toxic shit, and most folk begrudge her for it. But not Vallory. Vallory still makes time to see Manja. Vallory invites Manja over for dinner. Honestly, Manja doesn’t know what she’d do without Vallory. Manja likes to spend her waking hours watching disgusting horror films like Human Centipede, like Green Inferno and A Serbian Film and other pieces of art like them, and that practically covers the route of her standard train of thought right there. Most folk don’t like that in another human, most folk think that’s creepy. But not Vallory.
Honestly, Manja doesn’t know what she would do without Vallory. And tonight, Vallory is lucky Manja is here, too. After tonight, Vallory won’t know what she would be doing without Manja in her life, and it all starts when Manja finishes working down that mouthful of the phenomenal pulled pork.
“Good Christ, Vallory! This pork! It’s, it’s just… I’ve never had anything like it!” She engulfs another handful – the dinner started with forks, but, you know, that’s how it started – of pulled pork and then, as drupelets of thick brown barbecue sauce dribble down her stuffed, rosy cheeks, Manja asks, “What did you do to it?”
“Not a whole lot, Manj’!” Vallory raves as she follows a handful of pulled pork with a spoonful of barbecue sauce. “The guy who mailed it to me sent me all the fixin’s, I just followed the instructions!”
Manja, suddenly holding a fork in her saucy hand, stabs herself a wad and starts chewin’. “A guy mailed it to you?! Oh honey, you tell me more about that right now!”
“Well, sure!” Vallory squeals, hardly able to contain herself. This pork is so tasty-fine it’s driving her stark mad. “I was at this big garage sale the weekend before last, I don’t even remember what town it was in, and I bought an old recipe pad from the Met! It was all blank, so I could fill it in myself, and oooooh it has all different sections and illustrations, oh Manja it is to die for I love it so much!”
“So the pork?” as Manja dips a straw into the bottle of barbecue sauce.
“The pork ! Yes! So in the back of the Meat and Poultry section there was this little message. This little ad, it said Want that long belly? Call this number and get yerself some longpork. Fill you up right, you hear? It even said yer-self, like whY-Eee-aRe. It was so clever I just had to call. Any normal human being would. Wouldn’t you?!”
Manja wants to answer, but she can’t at first. Her stomach, her esophagus, her mouth, her fork, and before she grabbed that fork, her hands, it’s all full of Vallory’s pork. The longpork, to get that long belly. Fill you up right, you hear?
See, Manja isn’t a normal human being. Manja likes to spend her time watching disgusting horror movies like Human Centipede, like Green Inferno and A Serbian Film, they’re practically all she ever thinks about, and most folk begrudge her for it. Most folk think she’s creepy, but not Vallory. Vallory makes time to see Manja. Vallory invites Manja over for dinner. Manja doesn’t know what she’d do without Vallory, and in just a moment, Vallory will feel the same way about Manja. Vallory will have no idea what she would do without Manja because she will refuse to have that idea. She’ll picture it in her head, but she’ll refuse to look at the picture because the picture is all around her. Vallory is little more than the stroke of a paintbrush dipped in homemade barbecue sauce, and without Manja, she would be none the wiser.
“Vallory…” Manja trembles, letting the thoroughly chewed longpork fall out of her mouth and onto the plate. “Val’, longpork is… longpork is human meat…”