Part two of a short story I'm working on (pardon the formatting. I'm too impatient to fix it):
Hello? A voice growled on the other line.
Swallowing back a rush of saliva, I began.
Hello. Is this Magnificent? Magnificent Square?
This is Mag. Who is this? It’s too early to try and sell me anything right now.
No. I’m not selling anything. I. I. I… My heart raced at the thought of what to say next. What was I to say? I envisioned my kidneys pounding away inside my body, side by side. Corporeal lovers. How could I possibly pull them apart? One would surely miss the other.
Are you there?
I. I. I. I received a letter three weeks ago. You sent a letter to my house. About a kidney?
Oh. Yeh. I sent lots of letters over the last few months. Good thing someone finally decided to respond. I’m sick as hell over here and no one up until now has had the decency to call me.
Oh. Well it’s a hard decision to make you know.
What? She coughed.
Donating a kidney.
Hell. A hard decision to make is whether or not you want to suffer through another day of physical torture. This body of mine is failing apart so hard I can’t see three feet in front of me, I’m losing my hair, my skin looks like a plastic bag.
I’m sorry to hear that.
Yeh. Well, how sorry are you? Sorry enough to help me out over here… or what?
I was considering it. And I was, but her abrasive tone made me rethink the whole thing. I needed to regain some control over the situation. I was considering giving you one of my kidneys. It’s true. I’ve never done something like this before… obviously, so I’d like to make arrangements to meet with you.
Why would you want to meet me? I’m sick. Can’t we just get this whole thing over with?
No… I prefer to meet you Magnificent. I would feel more comfortable knowing where my kidney’s new home will be.
Fine weirdo. Jesus. Come over whenever. Tonight. 55 Liptin Lane. The only thing I got going on over here is a game show at 6. Come after 7. Bring some food. The nurse hasn’t been by in a couple of days and I’m outta food. I like pizza or fried chicken. Mountain Dew.
Very well. I’ll see you at 7.
I hung up the phone and placed my hands where the anatomy book told me my kidneys were. It appeared my ideas of budding friendship with Magnificent might be far-fetched. She was a rough ungrateful woman who was further destroying what remained of her body with junk. If my kidney were to end up inside her, she would have to start taking better care of herself.
I went to the store. I bought mostly green things: celery, spinach, lettuce, peas, green beans, broccoli and kale. I bought goat’s milk and dover sole. I bought brown rice. At the checkout stand I thumbed through a tabloid and informed myself about the lives of random celebrities I knew nothing about. They were too fat and too thin, pregnant, divorced, just in or out of the closet. I imagined reading about myself in one of these magazines. There would be candid pictures of me doing normal things like grocery shopping and taking out my trash. Editors would point out my unfit upper arms and flat buttocks. They would question my status in life and all I had not done.
In college I had been ambitious. I was a good student. I studied more than most of my colleagues and won the praises of my professors. I earned a degree in business administration and shortly after began working for the same company I work for now, a company specializing in cardboard shipping boxes. I work Monday through Friday - nine to five. Though small and windowless, I have my own office with an extra chair for one-on-one meetings with head of accounting. Most of my co-workers are conservative people with large families. Many of them have giant bellies procured by eating too much fast-food. None of them talk about anything aside from the weather and prime time television. With the exception of Bernard, a kind older man in accounting who occasionally accompanies me to a matinee film, I keep to myself.
I suppose I think of work as something necessary, something that makes me feel productive. I cannot imagine living my days without going to an office and, due to my impeccable immune system, I haven’t missed a day of work in 15 years. I have twenty or so weeks of paid vacation, but I have no desire to go anywhere. My home is my sanctuary. It’s a small bungalow on the northeast side of the city. There are two bedrooms and a den where I keep my library - a vast collection of classic Russian greats. I have a small kitchen and a garden with a small willow tree, a few rose bushes and a patch of savory herbs. Sometimes my cousin from Connecticut visits me when she travels for work, but mostly I spend my nights alone and prefer it that way.
Liptin Lane was 32 miles away from my house in a dangerous suburb where all the poor people had been forced to live. As I drove down the main drag of Foister Avenue I witnessed several abandoned strollers on random corners, men in dirty jeans smoking while pacing furiously back and forth at bus stops, black iron bars covering the windows and doors of bars and pawnshops and a couple teasing their screaming toddler with a ferocious pit-bull.
I turned onto Liptin Lane and parked on the street in front of Magnificent’s house - a vinyl siding covered duplex with a single cracked window and wobbly screen door. I turned off the engine sitting in the silence of my car for several minutes and in my mind ran over what I would say to Magnificent. I know you wanted chicken or pizza and Mountain Dew, but those things aren’t good for your body Magnificent. I can’t allow you to continue ruining yourself with poisonous food and beverages. From here on out, if you want my kidney, you will have to start taking better care of yourself. This I assumed, was fair.
I stepped out of my car and retrieved the groceries from the trunk. The air smelled of wet pennies, rubber, cigarette smoke and fried things. It was the forth week of spring, but in this particular neighborhood there were no trees, grass or foliage of any kind to prove it. I pulled my jacket tighter around me, set the groceries down and knocked.