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The Last Experiment

by R D Larson

Overall, the last experimental surgery had gone well, Jared thought as he washed his hands, carefully singing the ‘Happy Birthday Song’ two times. As a boy, he had never thought much about dirt or germs. In high school, it had impressed him when he heard the Health Director say that washing the hands during the length of singing the song twice assured the most effective way of removing germs from the skin of his hands.

Since graduation, he became more involved in the family business. “Dressing the dead for God,” his father called it. Jared only took the parts that his father or the grieving family members wouldn’t see. Toes mostly. Sometimes a bit of flesh off the buttocks or a slice along the back of the upper arm.

Jared knew God didn’t care if they were complete or not. God only wanted their immutable souls and did not mind his little experiments. All done for good.

Sometimes when he tried to graft the toe or flesh to one of his pigs, there would be a horrible infection. He learned to be more careful: to wear latex gloves and to wash.

He went into dinner. Mom had come home from her garden meeting. There were pork chops, spinach, and baked potatoes. When his father drove home from the parlor, they had a quiet meal and sat around watching television. Finally, at nine o’clock, Jared said he was going up to bed.

His mother nodded, patting his arm to say good night as she watched the TV woman chose the handsomest contestant. His father snored guiltlessly over his adventure book.

They had quit coming upstairs. Good thing, Jared thought. He went into the room he’d turned into a miniature laboratory. The caged pig wasn’t more than a few weeks old. Still the pig dung smelled. He kept the windows open summer and winter. With disinfectant, he cleaned the crate and moved the drugged pig on to a clean bed of newspapers. Jared took its temperature and gave it a shot of antibiotic and a shot of anti-rejection serum.

He felt he was close. The last experiment this afternoon had filled him with such joy and pleasure. Jared felt proud and gifted. Here he was, a simple man, curing a dreaded condition with only his brain and his computer. Knowledge about anything could be found on the Internet. Materials ordered and delivered

When all was ready, he unwound the gauze from around the piglet’s stomach. Then the soft gauze patch that covered the magic and perhaps — this time — the miracle. He wiped his glasses and removed the final patch.

Beneath, two living toes and a patch of black skin glowed with life. The human parts thrived on the piglet’s silky skin.

Soon he would patch his own scarred and burned face. He’d found the key at last. Tears of joy streamed down his face as he smiled at what he had called his “re-invention.”

Copyright © 2006 by R D Larson

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