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Headcheese Jelly

by: Danielle Lea Buchanan

A butcher walks home down Petunia Street holding a captive bolt pistol and a yellow umbrella. In his pocket, a recipe for headcheese jelly: Boil the head of a pig to produce a stalk. Include tongue, feet, heart. When stock cools, it congeals due to natural gelatin in the skull. Set in aspic. Season with bay leaf and vinegar. Eat cold. He unlocks the door. His wife lays naked in the kitchen in a cattle trough. Nipples prod like antlers. A pot of water boils on the stovetop. The son’s feet are stapled with a nail gun to the wall. There’s a slow drip from his jaw into the 7th Mason jar. The wife in the trough yawns. Asks for tea. The butcher puts the captive bolt to her head. The bolt grinds the skull to flour, enters the cranium, cerebrum and cerebellum. It stops just before the brain stem. Her heart still beats. She’s scalded with boiling water until her scalp is lifted from her head like sod from a lawn. A blow dryer ripples the face away. She’s reduced on the oven at medium low to fat that left out overnight congeals to grease. She was missing for 18 months. Then found on the top shelf of the refrigerator. Stored in 7 lard tins. Her ribcage smoked with apple wood. Ovaries molded in buttermilk.