5  Carnivorous

  Can't you flesh it out a bit more, asked the publisher.

  Why? It's based on a true story and refers to a famous novel. It's got tons of, you know, flesh.

  Actually it's got too much actual flesh, but you know what I meant, even a short story has to have, well, sorry, meat on the bones. There's a skill to it. It's not a detail of a painting, it's a miniature.

  Yeah yeah. I'll look at it again. And please don't send me any more catalogues, I'm writing in self isolation, not buying books from the competition. Bye.

  What the fuck's he on about. It's got everything. Sex, implied anyway, cooking, road movie tropes, exotic foreign locations, plays on words, full of allusions, tragic ending that suddenly makes sense of it all? I'll have another look.

  Inspector Yvonne de Galais drove at 114 kmh on the A71 autoroute near Vierzon, in central France. She was pregnant and her British-style breakfast of fried smoked thinly sliced poitrine, mushrooms and baby tomatoes was making itself felt.

  (He looked for a fine pointed felt tip. Mark it up.)

  ...she was observing, rather than chasing, the fast moving truck in front of her unmarked Renault (something something?) It was neither the truck per se (italics??) nor the manner of its driving that interested her, rather the image that ran from top to bottom and side to side of (NO, simply 'covered'!! Or decorated. Enlivened? Too happy. 'Adorned', obviously) the truck's rear doors. Beneath blue-grey lettering, MEAULNES - VIANDES DE VIERZON, the flat, graphicky areas, mostly shades of pink, portrayed a hearty, grinning pig standing on its hind legs, facing her. One trotter was holding a plate, the other a fork. On the latter, destined for the pig's open mouth and slavering tongue, was impaled a rasher of bacon. On the plate, slightly tilted towards the viewer, were several more slices of pink flesh veined with off-white fat.

  As we have seen, the policière was not a strict vegetarian. But the thought of a pig enjoying eating rashers of itself made her feel even more sick. Then she thought, it cannot be eating of its own flesh. It must be eating others of its porcine kind. Cannibalism! Is that worse? What if the bacon it was eating came from a relative. Or even its own piglet? As well as nausea, the pain this thought caused was actual, physical discomfort.

  Her breakfast, combined with the repugnant self-cannibalising pig picture, was too much. She stopped with a small police-like skid (unnecessarily filmic / sounds like a small something something squid, but maybe police/pierce skid/kid/squeal a pre-echo of...) and flung her door open, the still-fastened seatbelt meaning that half the vomit stayed on the door sill and the door itself. She coughed, then undid the belt and leaned back, pale and sweaty, for a few seconds. Then grabbed a tissue, wiped her mouth, slammed the door shut, causing a few morsels to fly, and started the engine. This all took less than a couple of minutes. Yet peering up the straight road, visible for

several kilometers as it cut like a scalpel through the Sologne forest and lakes and bore uphill into the distance, she couldn't see the truck at all, and then her miscarriage started.

 

©2020 by Brian Reffin Smith