Skin and Bones

It was early morning when I met the cannibal. I hadn’t slept for three days, and I was swaying as I walked. People moved away from me once in a while. Perhaps they thought I was returning from a bar somewhere shady. But in fact, I had simply stopped sleeping because of the dreams.

The cannibal was sitting on the pavement, munching on a bone of man. There was a puppy by his side, wagging its tail frantically whenever the cannibal looked at it, and jumping onto any morsels he threw it. He was a homeless cannibal, I could see.

The cannibal bid me sit down, and I did, beside a puddle of old vomit. He offered me the bone of man. It had precious little meat on it, and he looked like he needed it more than me. But I took a dainty bite anyway. I didn’t want to be rude.

For a while, I sat next to the cannibal and I played with the puppy. It kept fading in and out, and I tried to concentrate by blinking life into dry eyes. What moisture there had been was already squeezed out. The puppy licked my nose. It helped, a little.

When the cannibal was done, he threw the bone onto the pavement and got up. The puppy forgot all about me and about him and picked up the bone and left with its tail in the air.

The cannibal wiped his hand on his musty, smelly coat, and then he offered me the other hand. I took it. We walked in the rising sunlight, its tender caress interrupted by cloudless jabbing, and the cannibal led me under the skin of the world to prepare for his dinner.