Saturday, February 16, 2013

Scalp Full of Salami by John Edward Lawson

The licking never stops; an interminable slathering of saliva ceaselessly spreads over my body. “Could you knock it off?”

     “In a minute. I’ve got to take a potty break pretty soon for a number seven.”

     “A what?” I knew they were strange, sure, but could they realistically have seven differing bodily functions?

     “You don’t know what a number seven is?”

     “If I did I wouldn’t have bought you in the first place.”

     It withdraws, seemingly hurt by my statement. Strange, these things and their quirks. We’ve conditioned ourselves to say anything and everything to our pets. Now that we’ve saddled ourselves with these new creatures, though, the rules are changing. Who knows if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

     “You oughtn’t be that way with me. I thought we were buddies.”

     “Sure thing. You’re my BestCo Buddy.” It’s amazing, wonderful and amazing, what we’ve managed to achieve through genetic engineering. “Come on, forget it. Have a little salami. It’s on me,” I try to joke.

     Thankfully these things posses an indomitable cheerfulness. Already my Buddy’s six groups of sticky pads begin to shift on my neck and I can hear its stomach growling. Judging from the potbelly it has been cultivating I might want to think about picking up some low-fat salami.

     Mattea is coming my way and I nod my head, careful not to topple my Buddy. “Hey Matty.”

     Mattea waves and I do likewise. Maybe five years ago the clumps of greasy salami in Mattea’s hair would have been seen as disturbing, but now it’s the ultimate class status symbol. My own Buddy clings to my left ear, jockeying for position on my neck. A few dozen meat bits, warmed by my body heat and from an hour of being out of the fridge, are starting to develop quite a strong odor—not an entirely unpleasant one, either.

     It pauses to sniff at the starlight under the night sky. “Mmm…Alpha Orionus.” I still can’t get used to that.

     “So, who should we kill today?” I ask it, pulling out my copy of Playkill Magazine. “The Inmate Of The Month is out of the question. But we can check out the other pictorials.”

     “Seven,” it says. “Just go with number seven today.”

     I peruse the hundreds of screens. “One…four…okay, here’s the seventh one. Let’s see. Reynard. Unity Reynard. Still sound good?”

     My Buddy grunts, trying to speak with its mouth full. “Let me see the pictures.” I let it read over my shoulder and it seems to be pleased. “All right, go for it!”

     “Sure thing…” After a quick scan of my GeneCreds I type in a few commands, and just like that Unity Reynard pops up on my viewer. Poor old frightened, confused Unity. We chuckle and feel a little better watching the convict’s cell slowly fill with sewage until he finally drowns. This fleeting amusement comes to an end with a message from the Penal Department thanking us for our contribution. “Well, that only killed a half hour. Got any other suggestions?”

     “Let’s swing by the deli. I heard they finally released those salami lice.”

     “No kidding! See, that would be so cost-effective. No more running to the grocery store all the time.”

     “Yeah,” it chortles. “I heard they lay a new generation in your hair every twenty-eight hours.”

     I know where there’s a nearby deli that would stock all the latest BestCo Food. “Sounds good to me. Let’s get this show on the road.”

     When I hear my Buddy’s flat teeth grinding away it’s clear that together we’re unstoppable.


John Edward Lawson has published nine books, seven chapbooks, and over five hundred works in anthologies, magazines, and literary journals worldwide. He is a winner of the Fiction International Emerging Writers Competition, and has been a finalist for the Stoker Award and Wonderland Award. Other nominations include the Dwarf Stars Award, the Pushcart Prize, and the Rhysling Award. As a freelance editor he worked for Raw Dog Screaming Press, Double Dragon Publishing, and National Lampoon, has edited seven anthologies, and served as editor-in-chief for The Dream People. Recently he became a columnist at IMJ, covering events in the publishing industry.
"Scalpful of Salami" originally published in Just Kill Me

Copyright John Edward Lawson

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