|RAT PIE by Rob Bliss|
No one criticizes my cooking.
I’m an abused woman, I know that. Been in and out of women’s shelters when Gary got too rough. Read their pamphlets, listened to their sweet words, but it only made me hate the women there even more. I didn’t like myself for running away, wanted to stay and fight, but didn’t know how. Just needed a different roof to sleep under for a night or two while Gary calmed down. Then I always went home.
My husband hits me, so what? Yells at me, calls me every name in the book, I’ve heard them all, and I still go back. It’s what a lot of women do, and whether you explain the psychological reasons to them or not—their daddies were the same as their husbands, their mamas the same as themselves—most still return to repeated behaviours. There’s still the comfort of home, of having a man to protect you in case of trouble, especially if he’s the father of your children. I’m no coward. I stay and fight.
When a rat got into the house one day I found a way to fight back. All I ever really needed. Stomped on the tail of the vermin and clubbed it with a tenderizing hammer. Ugly thing, a dead rat is. I loved it.
Skinned it, threw the pelt in the trash, ground it up into a meaty pulp—head, tail, feet and nails—all of it. Made a meat pie. Knew when the kids got home from school they’d want some for dinner, lots of gravy, a side of mixed veg. But I wouldn’t feed my children it—I loved them.
I made them hot dogs, Thursday’s usual dinner, which Gary always hated. He said they were for barbecues and kid’s birthdays. He wanted real food—he worked hard—he was a man, goddammit, and he wanted a man’s dinner.
I said I saw a meat pie on sale today while doing groceries, but since we’re on a tight budget I just bought one. For him, of course. If he liked it, I could get more, if he let me spend the money. Then maybe I could change Thursday’s meals.
Lots of gravy. He dug in and loved it. Gorged himself and was done before the kids had finished their hot dogs. The children watched him eat, gravy on his chin and shirt. I was allowed to buy more, but only if they stayed on sale. I told him I had a feeling they would.
No more rats came into the house, so I went looking for them. Drove to town to complete the list of household and outside chores Gary always gave me before he left for work. Had my hammer and a garbage bag as I strolled the Dumpsters behind the Chinese food restaurant, the fish and chips, the burger joints. Caught three. Bought some more pie crust and ingredients at the grocery.
Made three pies and put them in the freezer. Gary doesn’t like the same meal twice, so I made my Friday dinner, casserole. But he asked if I had picked up any more meat pies. I surprised him and said they were on sale three for ten dollars. They hadn’t been in the freezer too long. He told me to go fuck my casserole, the kids could have that shit, heat him up a meat pie and don’t take forever.
I heated two, with lots of gravy. It was the beginning of the weekend, Friday night, so ten beers before dinner and Gary had an appetite. He ate both pies while the children moped about their casserole. Gary told them to quit their whining and eat their goddamn shit. The beer provided a good haze. He didn’t recognize the small tip of tail which I hadn’t chopped finely enough. Thought it was a small piece of bone or cartilage, put it on the side of his plate as he kept eating the meat.
Long story short, I’ve been feeding Gary rat pie for a month now, and he’s a glutton for it. I even started collecting some of the rat shit crusted on the edge of the Dumpsters and mixed it in with the gravy, only to be used for pies. The children know not to touch daddy’s food. Gary has had to go to the doctor a few times; doctor said he had some kind of parasite, antibiotics should help. Maybe just heartburn or upset stomach; an over-the-counter medicine should alleviate the problem.
But Gary keeps eating the pies and he’s not a man for pills and medicines. He’s a real man—pills are for women when they don’t wanna fuck or are on the rag. He should be dead in six months if all goes well. He never takes a lunch, calls even my peanut butter and jam sandwiches shit, so he eats off those lunch trucks. I’m sure they could be blamed for being unsanitary, the driver given a fine until he cleans his truck. I read that rat and mouse shit gets into a lot of food, and no one gets charged with anything. Contaminated food gets a lot of people sick every year, and life goes on as normal.
I am an abused woman. My place is in the kitchen. It harbours many weapons.