Dim Sum of All Parts
Selling celebrity body parts wasn’t as lucrative a business as Jerry Dawson thought it might be. Sure, it paid the bills but as for living the life of luxury, he was still waiting for that to happen. But when Eddie called to tell him that Bryce Jarrod was having his appendix removed, he was giddy. Jerry knew this was the big one, the one he had been waiting for, the one that would finally allow him to retire and move down to Florida like he had always wanted.
Bryce Jarrod was suddenly the hottest thing around. Ever since his band had broken up and he had started his solo career, he was everywhere. You couldn’t pick up a magazine or turn on a talk show without seeing him on it. And after his album went platinum and he was linked to a certain starlet, he was even more popular. So when Eddie told Jerry that Bryce was scheduled to go into Mercy Hospital the next afternoon, he couldn’t help but be excited.
Mercy was where a lot of celebrities went to get procedures done. Most often it was of the cosmetic nature but occasionally there was something a little more important. Eddie had been an orderly at the hospital for a long time and always knew when a big name was coming in.
Jerry and Eddie had been working together for years and they had a whole system figured out: Eddie would call Jerry the night before and tell him what floor of the hospital he needed to be on. Jerry had gotten a visitor ID card years ago and although now with his longer gray hair and slightly wrinkled face he looked different than the picture, no one usually looked twice at him as he flipped through a People magazine in one of the waiting areas.
Generally a short time after the surgery, Eddie would come out and pretend to talk to Jerry about some matter. Holding a small bag that looked like a lunch sack, he’d sit down next to him, putting the bag on the floor. After a few minutes of fake talking, he’d get up and leave. After another moment, Jerry would do the same, this time with the bag. He never asked how Eddie got the parts; it was something he preferred not to know.
Jerry usually already had a buyer set up and they’d meet for the exchange. He never asked why someone would want one of Janet Jackson’s original nipples or the guy who played Grandpa Munster’s gall bladder; it was something else he really didn’t want to know.
As Jerry sat in the waiting room on the ninth floor reading a month-old Newsweek, he saw Eddie emerge from a room and start walking towards him. He knew something was wrong when Eddie wasn’t holding a bag and the worry was compounded when he saw the look on his pudgy face.
“Uh, Mr. Dawson,” Eddie said loudly, glancing around, “I have some news about your wife.” He sat down next to Jerry.
“What’s the problem, Eddie?” Jerry muttered.
“The brown frog walks slowly through the mud.”
Jerry rolled his eyes; the only thing that irked him about Eddie was that when they were working he seemed to think he was a character in a spy novel.
“In English, Eddie,” Jerry said.
“Uh, yeah, it’s gonna take me a little while to get it this time,” he practically whispered.
“Why? I already got people interested.”
“Security’s really cracking down since those paparazzi got in a couple weeks ago and took those pictures of Michael Douglass without his nose.”
“So can you get it or not?”
“Yeah, yeah, don’t worry, I’ll get it, but just not now. Why don’t you go back to base and I’ll contact you later.”
Jerry sighed and got up.
“So,” Eddie said loudly, “your wife’s going to be fine.”
“Yeah, thanks,” Jerry said and headed for the elevator.
When he got home he found a dozen messages on his machine, all from people interested in the appendix. He smiled; the more prospective buyers, the higher the price would be. Right now he was looking at six figures easy. Before the night was over, it might be up to seven.
After a few hours of puttering around his apartment, he gave Eddie a call. He hung up when he got his voicemail. Eddie had never let him down before so he wasn’t too concerned.
He was about to put the phone down when he glanced at the refrigerator. China Jade’s menu was calling out to him and he started salivating thinking about their sweet and sour chicken. Jerry always ordered Chinese on the night of a successful job and even though he didn’t have the appendix yet, he knew it was only a matter of time. He quickly called and placed an order to be delivered.
When he tried Eddie again about an hour later and there still was no answer, he started getting worried. He thought he had always been fair with the way he divvyed up the money — since he did all the legwork and Eddie just got the part and put it in a bag, he felt he deserved a little more than Eddie did. Looking back he realized he never exactly explained how he divided up the money but Eddie didn’t complain.
But now Jerry was starting to get a little suspicious. He wondered if Eddie had found out how much the appendix was worth and decided to sell it himself. Now that he really thought about it, Eddie seemed a little nervous at the hospital and was pretty anxious for him to leave. Jerry started pacing. He wouldn’t do that to me, he thought, would he?
Just then there was a knock on the door. Jerry bolted past the couch and opened it; he frowned at the young Chinese man standing there.
“Hello, Mr. Dawson. Special order for you tonight,” he said with a smile.
“No, just the usual, Hao.” Jerry grabbed the bag and handed him a twenty. “Keep the change.”
“Thank you, Mr. Dawson.”
He closed the door and took the bag into the living room. Until he smelled the food he didn’t realize how hungry he was, and even though some of it was cold he quickly began scarfing it down. As he ate, he wondered about Eddie again. Could he really trust him?
Just as he finished the last egg roll, the phone rang and he hurriedly reached for it.
“Eddie?” he asked, practically before he had picked it up.
“Uh, is this Mr. Dawson?” a young female voice asked.
“Yeah, can I help you?”
“I understand you might be selling some, um, Bryce Jarrod memorabilia. Is that right?”
Jerry smiled. Number 13, that was new record for him.
“That’s right, but I’m not sure you’d be able to afford it.”
The girl laughed. “You’d be surprised at what I can afford. What’s the asking price?”
He hadn’t really set an official price yet but figured he’d take a chance.
The girl didn’t say anything for a moment and Jerry assumed the conversation was over.
“Okay, that’ll work.”
“That’s 1.8 million,” he said, thinking she hadn’t understood.
“Uh, yeah, I got that. So when can I get it?”
His heart started beating rapidly.
“You have 1.8 million dollars?”
“Uh, yeah, that and much more. My family is quite wealthy. So when can I get it?”
“Um, I’ll have to uh, get back to you about that.”
“No you won’t,” she said, starting to sound annoyed. “I’ll get back to you. “I’ll give you two hours to get your shit together. If we can’t arrange a meeting when I call back, forget it.”
The phone went dead. Jerry glanced at the clock on the wall: 8:15. He grinned. 1.8 million?! He couldn’t believe it. Screw a condo, he thought, doing a little dance, I’m buying a mansion.
Just then he remembered Eddie and his festive mood quickly subsided. Where the hell was he? He quickly dialed his number again but there was still no answer.
After some more pacing and several more fruitless calls, Jerry decided to go back to the hospital and try to find him there. Just as he put his jacket on, the phone rang. He lunged for it, knocking a small lamp to the floor.
“Jerry, it’s Eddie, how’s it going?”
“Eddie, where the hell have you been, I’ve been trying to call you for hours.”
“Yeah, I must’ve misplaced my phone. So how’s it look, pretty gross, right?”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“The appendix. You did look at, didn’t you?”
“Have you lost your mind, Eddie? I don’t have the appendix, I’m waiting for you to get it, remember?!”
Eddie didn’t say anything for a moment. “So you didn’t get it? I sent it to you a couple hours ago.”
“What do you mean you sent it to me? What the hell are you talking about?”
“Okay, listen. I told you security was tight, right? One of the guards kept watching me as I looked for the appendix. By the time I got it he knew something was up and he followed me out of the hospital. I tried losing him as I walked to your place. I thought I had gotten rid of him when I got to your building but then he came around a corner and started running at me. I saw the Chinese kid going in so I gave him a twenty to bring it up to your place. Didn’t you get it?”
Suddenly Jerry’s mouth went dry. He glanced into the living room at the white cartons lying on the coffee table. For the first time he noticed that one of them looked different from the others. He slowly went over and picked it up.
“I told him to tell you it was a special order. Pretty clever, huh?”
Jerry peered into the carton; a dark liquid that he had assumed was teriyaki sauce was congealing at the bottom. He felt like he was going to throw up. He dropped the carton and sank to the couch.
“Hello? Jerry? What’s going on?”
“I’ll have to call you back, Eddie,” Jerry mumbled, barely having the energy to raise the phone to his ear. He pressed the “end” button and let the phone fall to the floor.
After a moment it rang again. Jerry looked at the clock: 10:15 exactly. He glanced back at the carton on the table; a few thin trails of blood had dribbled out onto a brochure entitled “Affordable Miami Condos!”
| COPYRIGHT 2006-2011
Portland Fiction Project
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED