Champ prattled on. “You see, your soul… your spirit… that should be consumed raw. As naked and pure and rare as the day you got it. That’s right.” He had a spatula in his hand. “But people like you, I can count your worth in less than sixty seconds. Thirty five seconds on one side…” he flipped the meat over in the pan with the spatula and Hanker heard the sizzle. “And thirty five seconds on the other.” He held the spatula like a wand. “That’s about it. Not many tasty souls left, I tell ya’.” He pointed the spatula at Hanker. “And you! You are the epitome of sour. A bitter soul. Tart spirit.”
Hanker’s head was spinning and he couldn’t make sense of Champ’s babbling. “Huh?” was all he could muster.
Champ laughed, “Well, you get a few extra seconds,” he flipped the meat over again. “La dee da, la dee da, la dee dee da dah baba! Well!” He took a plate from the cabinet, slid the meat from the frying pan onto it and said, “Or should I say, rare?” He held the plate out for Hanker to see. The meat was juicy red, seared on the surface and dark raw in the middle with a fat line of red juice running down the plate. Hanker felt his stomach clinch.
Champ had a sinister smile on his face as he stepped back to the table and took a seat. There was a place setting at the table, and he began cutting into the meat. He bought a wedge to his mouth, it dripped on the fork and Champ regarded it for a second before putting it in his mouth. He closed his eyes while he chewed and he leaned back in his chair with his hand rubbing his stomach. He purred with contentment, swallowed, cut another piece of meat and repeated the process. “You know what?” Champ said. “This is the greatest cut of meat, right here. Best cut. And when cooked correctly, a savory meat.”
Hanker could barely make out what the man was saying. Pain was coming at him in waves and, at the moment, he wished that he was dead. Agony burst inside of him and Champ became a surreal vision, an apparition that floated in front of his eyes, and he wished that he could find a way to kill Champ. His lips glowed a coppery red and his eyes were even darker when their eyes met.
“You want a bite?” Champ said and held out a bloody piece of meat on his fork. “No. That would be much too much. You couldn’t appreciate it the way I do.”
Hanker started coughing, painful hacks that shook him.
Champ waited until it subsided before he spoke. “Okay. Fun’s over. You still haven’t gotten it have you? You see this?” He pointed at the plate. “Well, while you were out, I cut you open and removed your liver. I know you feel the pain right now. I know that you are probably going to dead out right where you are sitting but I just wanted you to know before you go.”
Hanker lifted his head and looked at Champ.
“That’s right,” Champ said. “This, is your liver.” He paused to slice off another piece and looked Hanker in the eye while he put it in his mouth and chewed. He grunted in satisfaction. “Damn! Who would have ever thought that you would taste so good!”
Hanker let Champ’s words sink in. he thought about what this man had done to him. Thought about his life that was ending so suddenly. Thought about the reason he was in the bar drinking last night. Clarity settled over him in a calm wave. Everything cleared for him.
“You are one sick fuck, you know?” Hanker said. “If I could, I would put a bullet through your skull and save the world some air space. Save that for others. But it all comes out in the wash though, Champ!”
“It does, does it?” Champ cut another piece and chomped down.
“It does,” Hanker said. “Like I can see that a sick bastard like you will always eat meat raw because you animal, beastly, cowardly fuck.”
“I’m shocked!” Champ said and cut another piece. “I don’t eat raw meat, dumdum. I seared it on both sides. That is called ‘rare’ in the finer dining establishments. It comes with its own juice that way.”
“That’s blood, sicko! Not juice. Blood.”
“Juice!” Champ chewed heartily.
Hanker shook his head and actually laughed. “You’ll find out soon enough though. You’ll see.”
“What are you talking about, meatbag?” Champ cut the final piece and held it up to his mouth. Red liquid dripped down onto the pool of blood gathered there.
“That juice, that blood,” Hanker said. “That is where I keep my HIV.”