2010 summer fiction backwithglorian

by Hank Pugh

Glorian was tall and stately, never married, and well beyond the Italian ideal of half my age plus ten years. Her searing ferocity in the protection of her legal aid clients was a wonder to me. But more wonderful still was the unexpected and lovely tenderness toward them that sometimes brought her to tears at their poverty and hopelessness. She was spirited and the brightest person I have ever known, man or woman. She was also dangerous for a man like me whose spirits had settled long ago.

Just before she went away, I made her dinner. Mistaking her for a girl, I made girl food: a salad to start, a fruit tart to finish, and a roast chicken (for after all, what is more delicious than a perfectly roasted fryer) from which I planned to carve her a boneless, skinless, tasteless breast, and reserve the boy food for me and Fumble, my chocolate lab. My assumption spilled over into rudeness when I removed the bird from the oven and plucked out of the redolent, yellow liquid the heart and liver, neck, and gizzards and shared the "boy food" with Fumble, who had, from long practice, developed a certain proprietary interest in these parts.

She let this thoughtlessness pass without comment, but when I placed the breast on her plate and she realized that I was going to eat the back, she spoke.

"Oh, no, no, no," she said after swallowing her champagne, "that will never do. If you think you are eating that back alone, you are sadly mistaken."

"Well," I said, "I would never eat a back in polite company. I was just sort of getting it out of the way"

She smiled, skewering me with her lovely eyes. "We are past polite. We'll eat it together."

Now people who eat chicken backs are kind of hard to find, rare as hen's teeth, one might say. We are the same benighted folk who take delight in crab mustard, glands of all sorts, and little fish that stink. So when we find one of our own, especially one of the other sex, it is a delight almost beyond words. So it was with gusto that Glorian and I pushed our thumbs under the twin scallops on either side of the bird's middle line to free those incomparable delicacies from their perfect nests. We dragged our fingers over the scapulae to pull just the right amount of fatty meat off the carcass with the shoulder-blade before we popped the bones into our mouths to suck them clean of the sweet flesh. She gasped, then smiled, when I turned the body over and, sliding my index finger under the mahogany colored mass nestled against the backbone, held the food to her lips to take in and relish. The pope's nose vanished in a final, gustatory division of the spoils. She insisted that I eat the little bit of cartilage that divides the perfect lobes.

Afterward, we stood at the sink, our hips lightly touching, and washed each other's hands in the flow of the warm, soapy water. And when she kissed me, it was delicious.

About the Author

Hank Pugh is a self-employed lawyer living and working in Easton, on Maryland's Eastern Shore. He attended St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, where he read the great books with some really fine readers.

322 Review publishes provocative emerging and established artists. Conceived and operated by former Rowan University graduate students of the Master of Arts in Writing Program, 322 Review is aggressively seeking the best fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and mixed media works of visual art.