Short Shorts by Jessica Thomas: King Tut’s Fish Fry, Part 1

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If anyone asked him, “Hey Gordon, what’s your favorite food?” he’d stop a moment and think. While he was thinking, his wife Mindy would undoubtably pop in, “He loves cheese and beer. Every time I go to the grocery its, Gordy? Do you want anything special? Cheese and beer, every time, I tell you.”

Gordon is partial to beer. He isn’t proud of the fact, but he’s not going to hide it either. Beer drinking is okay as long as it’s in the company of others. That way you aren’t hiding it or sneaking it. That’s what alcoholics do, and Gordon isn’t an alcoholic. He’s just partial to beer.

His best friend Martin got him started on cheese. They went to the same grade school and sat across from each other at lunch.

With his seventy-five cents, Gordon got a carton of milk and whatever else the lunch ladies decided to concoct–usually a slab of fibrous meat slathered with gelatinous gravy. On the side, they’d throw a scoop of canned corn and creamed white rice. Gordon never tried the rice. He knew by the smell he hated it. As for canned corn, he’d had it at home many times and knew the taste of metal didn’t appeal to him.

There were rumors the meat contained horse and soybeans. Gordon suspected it probably did judging by the queer fibers in it, but he ate it anyway. One slab of meat wasn’t enough to fill his stomach, though. That’s where Martin’s cheese came in.

“You eating that?” Martin had asked.

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“Why aren’t you?” Gordon said.

“Because my mom says school lunches are bad. There’s no fresh fruit. And the vegetables are canned. And you can’t trust the government.”

Martin, pitying Gordon, shared his cheese and went home to tell his mom about it.

“I can’t afford to feed that boy too,” she’d answered. Cheese, right? You said he liked cheese? I swear. I should call that mother of his and tell her what they put in those lunches. It’s child abuse.”

From that day forward, Martin’s mom packed extra cheese. Usually cheddar, but sometimes Monterey Jack. Still, if a person where to ask Gordon what his favorite food was, he’d have to say fish.