Shrine in Los Angeles

29/7/2022 • 10 min • meaningless fiction

"Everything you can imagine is real is real."

—Pablo Picasso

Myself, an observer of the horrors about to be unleashed on my own body in what resembled high quality VR—look but no touch. It was bathed against its own will; bare and grey-skinned on a steel table, wrists and neck with tubes to vacuum up blood into bags. Two identical brothers—excellent barbers—off went body hair using a combination of straight razor and wax strips; it was the closest shave I’ve ever seen. With their glorious beards, one rocking a Carrera, the other an Oyster. Black was the name of the game of their fashion with matching turtlenecks and leather gloves. They were no barbarians—no, they were just like us. They were actually even better—they had class.

Like the immoral and evil, no different from us. The greatest fallacy of fiction is that the evil is incompetent and that all their existence is undesirable. The truth is, the one giving you a hand could have been a murderer. Who can help it, for the meaning of life is suffering. As they continued their methodologically precise work, I came to appreciate just how sexy they were; had I been pan, all holes would be open, myself underneath, a ragdoll. No questions asked.

A stork sort of man took over for the butchery, but not before violating this nude body, in the nude. When he finished, using a giant cleaver, off went the head, calves, and arms. He continued with a large vertical cut across the torso and then sawed off the ribs in order to get access to the guts: lungs, stomach, intestines, spleen, kidney, liver and unknown organs I couldn’t identify. These were all going to be used; this was a zero-waste family. They were a lot like those occultists of New York, with their well-manicured beards, all dressed in $500 plain black sweaters and jeans (imagining many colours for all their clients but themselves). They shouted in our modern town square about some morals, and celebrating having helped the liquid black spoiling our water; in fact it is merely the highest—or/and most fashionable—bidder winning. The empty shell was meticulously cleaned with water and butterflied and tied for easier roasting. From one professional to the next.

It was time for the rest of the family to do their part for the grand feast. The parts that weren’t going to be used immediately were wrapped, labeled and dated in what was the most intricate and beautiful handwriting I’ve ever seen: their a’s and g’s were double storied, and numbers were set in text figures. The two brothers carried my blood bags—the most prized possession—into their own walk-in cooler, while three cousins walked in to help.

A tall dark haired figure from some punk band, was in charge of sweetbread: testicles, pancreas, the thymus, and the salivary glands. This task was easy. He dumped them in a bowl of water, wrapped it, and popped it into the walk-in cooler. And that was it. This lazy fuck couldn’t even bother to help out the others. The real grunt work was the tripe, prepared by a small girl with shoulder length blonde hair contrasted with a giant Chinese cleaver thrice the size of her head. She drained the stomach, sliced it into smaller subsections, trimmed the fat, and after a thorough clean, boiled it.

And then there was the silent one. He was in charge of the brawn, carefully removing a brain after cracking my skull and cleaning out the nostrils and throat, and removing the eyes.

Meanwhile, the mother and the two twin sisters were dealing with my intestines for some old school sausage casing. The long tube was sectioned off and cleaned in several salt-water filled buckets trough scraping.

With the prep done, the family did some rudimentary cleaning and sanitized the work surfaces before proceeding to the next stage. Oh, they were serious clean freaks. At the end of it there wasn’t a single stain on their white tiled walls and floors. Meanwhile, the mum prepared a pre-cooking snack for everyone. She mixed some thigh meat with some fattier cuts and processed it trough a mincing machine, manually cranking up the ancient tool. This raw ground up me was placed on top of lye rolls with salt, pepper, and chopped onions. The family wolfed down the snack in minutes.

They began with the würstchen. The brothers worked on the first wurst, the blutwurst. The elder fried up chopped onion with fat and apples, which he deglazed with some local red wine and placed into a mixing bowl. Meanwhile, the younger brother poured the blood into simmering water and whisked it to thicken. Afterwards, breadcrumbs, cream, chopped tongue and ear, ground human, fat chunks, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne were added to the onion-apple mixture and combined. This was finely blended, mixed with my thickened blood, and cased into sausages using intestines.

The second type of wurst being made was a leberwurst, which was made by no other then grandma. She was a small woman with crackling skin and frail, but gentle, hands and moved excruciatingly slow. As the two brothers were well into casing sausages, Grandma had barely managed to chop liver and fill a pan of water.

The production got more intense, three more family members entered, the previous butcher, now wearing a silly coffee filter hat, and two unknowns holding up sheet trays with hands, forearms, feet, calves, and organ meat. The trio promptly browned the limbs with celeriac and onion. The younger brother boiled the blutwurst and the older rubbed some ribs with spices. The mother and sisters peeled apples and grated potatoes. It was time for a little celebratory drink. The brothers opened up a bottle of Willisau Pflümli and poured it into small shot glasses mixed with two tablespoons of blood for everyone.

Sister now worked on the tripe. She sliced it thinly and sauteed it with onion, garlic, caraway seeds. Then, she deglazed the mixture with some booze and put it to a simmer with demi-glacé, crushed tomatoes, vinegar, and juniper berries.

A cousin had grand plans for my head, but first, a low and slow simmer was required which was going to take the whole day. In the meantime he whisked together flour, eggs, milk, and salt for the egg noodles.

Finally, the lazy one got up and made himself useful. He filled a pan with water and set it to a boil. He then grabbed the sweetbread and testicles from the walk-in alongside some clarified butter, eggs, flour, and breadcrumbs.

Someone tapped my shoulder and I—my ghost—pulled trough a window and onto the edge of a cliff. This cannibal home was a castle—a picturesque castle of white walls surrounded by an ancient forest. This someone was right next to me and in astonishment commented, “you know, not many people eagerly go and watch themselves get cooked.”

“I guess it’s a form of morbid curiosity,” I said.

She broke down, “Look, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. There was only so much I could save, and I made sure they only took the parts you never cared about, which turned out to be a lot.”

“How do you even know these people?”

“Let’s just say that I had an interesting ex a while back.”

“You know, the hilarious thing is, I actually wanted to become a vegetarian, but the doctors told me that I needed to eat meat to stay healthy.”

“I can see why—”

“Hey, I’m not sure if you know someone that happens to look exactly like me, but my name is not—, it’s…”

Her voice muted as she continued to whine about something in a way that I found sexually attractive. But, who was she?

My ghost returned to the inside of the castle, where my actual friend was. She was waiting for someone while gazing at the stained glass windows adoring the tall hallway. The eldest brother, not a twin, exited the kitchen, grabbed her ass, and soon, they were making out as if the world was going to end. This felt more violating than anything that happened today, but I never understood why. My achievements didn’t matter anymore. My childhood bygone, my teenage years a faff, adulthood an irrelevance, a footnote. I would be remembered as the one who was eaten: blood sausage with buckwheat, pate, steak tartare, headcheese, sour tripe stew, dry marinated smoked ribs that need nothing else, a whole carcass roast marinated in chimmicuri, filet American, leberwurst, sweatbreads with sea asparagus, chanterelles, and morels, buttered egg noodles. I’m sure they found me delicious, which is fine, as I always felt disgusting.

A curtain rolled down from the sky and blue light emitted from spotlights onto the wooden stage I stood. I had a body with weight; naked and anchored to the earth. My bare feet got wet. The seagulls screeched but could not be seen. The water formed into aggressive waves; I was underwater and drowning; but I could feel my skin again; it was brutal, but also the most human I have ever felt, pleasure trough pain. I was alive yet dying. I kind of hated it, maybe I was best eaten.

— Laurens Spangenberg