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Issue number nine




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What I Ate by Ptim Callan

39 was sitting at my desk, revising a story for some editors, when I realized I hadnít had any breakfast. I started off with a bowl of dry cereal and then added some milk. But it seemed a little spare, so I cut up a banana and some strawberries and put them on the top. And I spread some sugar on it. I was feeling kind of peckish, so I fried up some bacon to go with the cereal. Then I realized it would go well on some of those cheese-and-bacon things, so I broiled cheddar cheese onto several pieces of bread and topped it with bacon and sliced tomatoes. And since I had all this bacon grease already in the pan, I quickly fried up a half a dozen eggs, over easy with light salt, and put them away too. I guess peckish isn't really the word for it. I was downright hungry.

Rummaging through the refrigerator I came up with three grapefruit and a big container of yoghurt. I've always found that grapefruit acts as kind of an appetite stimulant for me, so I then whipped up a quick batch of homemade biscuits. While they were in the oven I munched on pretzels and the last of the bananas. There was some leftover casserole in a glass container and also Larry's world famous guacamole dip from Friday night. When the chips ran out, I used sliced sourdough to finish the guac.

By this time I was clean out of orange juice. I cracked open a Rolling Rock Extra Pale in the long neck bottle and went to the basement freezer to defrost another OJ. Brought up a couple turkey pot pies and a box of pizza rolls while I was at it.

Between the pot roast, strudel, tortellini, clam dip, and creole salmon filets, I didn't have any more room on the stove or in the oven. I stir-fried in the wok and dragged in the hibachi from the backyard to cook up the shish-kebabs. On the bottom shelf I found some leftover roast chicken, which I sliced up and served over a big batch of spagettini tossed with olive oil and fresh basil.

When the pizza guy arrived with my two large combos, I managed to find some room for him in the oven between the turkey roll and my special atomic meatloaf. I think that's when the soufflé fell.

Course the garbage can was totally packed with plastic baggies, watermelon rinds, broccoli stems, foil TV dinner trays, fish bones, smashed dishware, orange peels, a burned out popcorn popper, eggshells, various jars and plastic containers, corn cobs, champagne bottles, apple seeds, a single boar's skull, and three inches of amalgamated semisolid food refuse. I pulled out the broccoli stems to throw into some soup I was brewing, and that allowed me to squeeze in the wrappers for several sticks of butter, a root beer can, a couple bagels that I somehow managed to burn, and the cat's flea collar.

Way in the back of the refrigerator I came up with an old, old pepper steak. It was a little green and fuzzy, but I covered the rancid taste with a whole mess of salsa.

I'd already used the fish in a little bouillabaisse, but I now realized that the fish food was still sitting by the aquarium. While I was out there I grabbed the flowers off the coffee table. Digging around in one of my cupboards, I came across some dried apricots. I threw them into the blender with a pint of ice cream, some maraschino cherries, and half a bottle of Southern Comfort. The nice thing about this shake was that I took the pitcher of the blender with me to drink it while I scanned the place to see if I'd missed any house pets.

I caught a big, hairy spider in the bathroom, but I was so impatient I just popped him on my way back to the kitchen. I'd pretty much cleaned out the pantry, but I noticed a film of flour scattered on the floor, which I swept up into a bowl and mixed with water to make an edible paste. I had this leather-bound encyclopedia set. After I boiled the covers for about half an hour and added a whole lot of curry powder, they were really quite tasty. And I marinated and barbecued my left leg to very good effect, although it did make it a lot harder to catch the mailman. I realized that I'd somehow missed a can of split pea soup.

I made a drink from mustard, baking soda, some liquid paper, a bunch of blood from my malamute Arlo, and a tall glass of warm water. I crunched the last of the ice cubes. If you bite off the end of a ballpoint pen, you can suck out the ink. Goose down is hard to swallow, so you need to wash it down with a lot of liquids.

I was feeling kind of stuffed, so I didn't want to climb the step ladder to get at the higher leaves on the trees. Instead I made a pot of tea and sat down to consume some dirt. Digging in the dirt was hard since I'd already bitten off my fingernails, but I did find several worms in the process. I sat and gnawed on a wooden kitchen spoon until the doorbell rang. Grabbed a carving knife out of the kitchen before answering. It was the coeditors of The Cafe Irreal. I kept the knife out of sight as I ushered them eagerly into the kitchen.

Ptim Callan's writing has appeared in ZYZZYVA, Poetry Midwest, Eyeshot, Coelacanth, SoMa Literary Review, and others. He has written and produced films that have been screened at The Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films, San Francisco Independent Film Festival, and other festivals. He received his English degree from UCLA, where he was fortunate enough to study creative writing under Robert Coover and John Barth, and his first name is pronounced "Tim."

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