It had been the worst fight of their marriage. Promises had been broken, bonds of matrimony shattered. Now Jack needed to show Sally his love for her was true and everlasting.
“Buy her some snazzy jewelry,” a friend recommended. “Tattoo her name on your arm,” said another. But after fourteen cans of beer at the local tavern, Jack had a much better idea: He would have an image of his wife’s beautiful face scrimshawed on his leg bone. A salty dog named Pickles overheard Jack’s plan and, being an incurable romantic as well as a master scrimshawer, said he would help.
They got started immediately. Pickles washed most of the bilge grime off his forearms and secured his oily, rancid hair with a rubber band. Jack then took off his pants and woozily indicated he was ready to be scrimshawed. The bartender had found a paring knife beneath the sink, and Pickles used it to cut through the flesh and muscle of Jack’s leg with near-surgical precision until he reached the femur. With only a tear-stained photograph of Sally to guide him, the swabbie proceeded to painstakingly etch her likeness onto the bone.
When he was done, Pickles set aside his gore-smeared knife ― and began to cry. If only he had found a woman like this! Amid the slurry of blood and subcutaneous fat, Sally’s smile radiated warmth and comfort to Pickles, like a lighthouse on a stormy night. What would his life have been like, the lonely mariner wondered, had he spent it not upon the high seas, but in the safe harbor of her gentle embrace?
With an old sailor’s sinewy strength, Pickles suddenly yanked the femur from the remainder of Jack’s leg, twisting it around until it popped free of its tendons and connective tissue. Jack protested feebly, but to no avail. Tucking the bone under his arm, Pickles stumbled out the back door of the tavern and down the street until he came to the Robertson’s neat, whitewashed bungalow. When Sally answered the door, he handed her the bone. “I love you,” Pickles stammered, “so I made this for you.”
It was the most wonderful thing anyone had ever done for her. Suddenly, Sally saw more than a greasy, malodorous seafarer standing on her front porch. She saw a kind and beautiful and honest soul. The sort of man who wasn't afraid to show his true feelings. The sort of man who would never swear to his wife that the naked prostitute hiding in the laundry hamper was really a census taker.
Something stirred deep in Sally’s heart. “Would you like a drink?” she asked, opening the door wider, and a grinning Pickles hurried inside.
Monday, August 07, 2006