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"Konichiwa. Domo" "Hi, Domo" Bruce replied to the Master Sushi Chef. "What you want for today? We have Uni, very fresh. Have giant clam, sweet shrimp?" queried Saji, the owner of the Golden bowl Sushi bar. "Oh today I think I will have something different. Um... Let me have a Rainbow roll, I would like it in a double size paper, I would like to have the crab mixed with some Tako and hot chili sauce, then I would like to hold the shrimp and add some of that Albacore belly."
The master chef looked at him for a bit then said, "ooOOh...You not want sushi, you want cheeseburger, you want fast food, that not sushi, that burrito!" "I not working at Mc Donald's, you want sushi, you want fish, raw with wasabi. I am Master Sushi Chef, what sushi you want?" Bruce was something of a sushi connoisseur or at least he thought so. Ever since he discovered the sweet and calorie light goodness of the ancient Japanese cuisine he had not been able to stay away from it. Sure he had heard all the warnings about pesticides and mercury in the tuna but he also knew about the good things, like the fatty acids that helped reduce the bad cholesterol and the hi-protein without the saturated fat. He figured he knew plenty about the good and bad and though a recently new phenomenon, believed it wouldn't be long before Mc Donald's would be selling sushi just to stay competitive. He had been making the rounds trying every sushi bar he could locate and had found some he really liked and some that would turn your stomach just to walk into. He already was not very fond of this particular dive since regardless of Master Sushi Chef Obi Won Kenobi or not, he believed the customer was always right. 'Tell me how to eat sushi will you' he thought now sorry he had come in. "Ok, I will have one order of Toro and one of Salmon." he said with a look of annoyance. "Oh, very good! Toro best sushi, Salmon good for you!'' the chef said now motivated to display his long time craft. As the chef did his little dance he had done literally millions of times, Bruce began to think about what the rest of his day would be like. Bruce was one of those who were just insane enough to work at the Sunny Springs Mortuary as an undertaker. Where Mr. Sushi Chef spent his days chopping up dead fish, Bruce spent his days hacking into dead people. This was not something everyone had the stomach to do but Bruce was used to it. He would go to work every morning with the enthusiasm one might find in one who had just landed a job working with the Swedish Bikini team. But there were no live bodies to be witty and spontaneous with where Bruce worked, only the unfortunate ones who have lost their battle to stay on this plain and now must find the wherewithal to make it on some other.
"Yech!" Bruce exclaimed, making sure he could be heard by all the gorging patrons, "This is the most disgusting excuse for sushi I have ever tasted!" he said actually having enjoyed it immensely but wanting to give a little payback for the unsolicited insults of Master Ninja Turtle. He stood up and walked out just before the blood began to spurt out of Chef Saji's eyes as he was sure it would have if he had stuck around another second. With little time left for lunch, he stopped at the little place that was as of yet his favorite and ordered the usual to go. The usual was a special that came with four kinds of sushi and a California roll, always with extra wasabi and ginger, Mmm... love that ginger.
As Bruce opened the door to the little Mortuary, he flipped on the light just to the right of the door and illuminated what could have been mistaken for a small chapel. There were 6 rows of pews which hosted a stage about 2 feet of the ground. Behind the oak podium were some curtains and behind those, a small table just big enough for some candles and one, six and a half foot coffin.
Behind the table was another small door that led to a room with four beds. When times were good, these beds would contain the bodies of the little towns departed and discarded. Currently times were good, at least for the mortuary, not so good for the poor folk who boarded the little 9 x 12 room. As he continued on, at the back of the little room was another door. Walking through this door, Bruce entered what was his modest living quarters that consisted of a couch, a coffee table, a TV, a little kitchen with all the basic appliances and a 100 gallon aquarium that housed some very voracious little occupants, Nile Piranha, the nastiest of the nasty in the small fish kingdom. Nowhere could you find a more deadly quartet of jagged toothed critters as the ones that he had somewhat illegally procured. Bruce had always loved things that were out of the norm, that is why he worked at a Mortuary, kept deadly predators as pets and ate the non-American food, Sushi.
Funny thing about working in a Mortuary and owning man-eating fish, there was always plenty of extra morsels of "Man" to feed to the man-eaters. Ok, you would say that is at best disturbing and at worst, Psychotic, but what do you do with all the discarded organs of all those bodies, burn them in the furnace? Who would know or care, not the dead people, they were dead. He really enjoyed being able to feed the remains to his little monster fish. He could drop in a kidney and the little jagged toothed demons would have it devoured in under 20 seconds. It never really crossed his mind whether or not the poor souls of the lost would suffer for the mistreatment of their precious but un-needed morsels, he was really not a religious man and didn't believe in ghosts or gods. It just was what it was he would tell himself. What harm could come?
Coming into his humble little abode, he dropped the bag containing his lunch on the little coffee table that separated the couch and the fish tank and went to use the bathroom. When he returned, he sat down at the couch and started to prep his delicious meal of dead fish by breaking out the soy sauce and wasabi. As he was going through what now had become a ritual for him, he happened a glance up at the aquarium that housed his private little demons. At first he gave a glance but then looked back with curiosity. All four of his precious vipers seemed to be holding formation at the front of the tank and almost seemed to be staring at him. "What, you guys never seen anyone eat raw fish before?" he said to them as if they would answer back, "I know, looks delicious. Sorry, none for you."
Now that he was prepped and ready, without further ado he picked up his first piece with his chopsticks and doused it in the wasabi, soy sauce solution. ‘Mmm...mmm... here it comes’ he thought as plopped the entire morsel into his mouth. As he did, he noticed that all four of his fish had begun to swim wildly at the front of the tank as though trying their level best to swim through it. Had they smelled the sweet odor and gone into a feeding frenzy? "I guess you guys are hungry." he said aloud. "Ok, hold on, feeding time then." He sat down his chopsticks and went over to the little Frigidaire. He opened the door and reached into the meat compartment and drew out a Ziploc bag. "Ok, what's for dinner tonight?' he said talking to no one. "Let's see, you had kidney last night, so tonight we have eyes, liver, heart or brains, mmm… yummy." "What was that? Did you say Brains? Oh, excellent choice, how would you like that served, raw? Perfect, consider it done."
He reached in to the bag of body parts he kept in his refrigerator and removed a chunk of brain that once housed the entire hopes, dreams and failures of old Mort Stanley, the Janitor of the local middle school. He had worked at that school for 40 years until his heart attack last week. Now his brains were being donated to the welfare of four primeval fish. Se Lave.
He walked over to the tank where the fish were now doing their ritualistic dance. They seemed to know when food was coming at the moment he would touch the little meat drawer. They seemed to have a sense that went beyond vision, psychic fish, that's what they were. Maybe feeding them brains was making them smarter, maybe the souls of the dead were being passed on and they were becoming more than just fish? Maybe he had been watching too many scary movies and needed to take a break. That was it, he would watch Chick Flicks for the next week as therapy.
As he lifted the lid to the big tank, the fish came to the top and were waiting quite impatiently for they’re next fix of human sashimi. "Ok, here you go, take it easy." He got his pocket knife out and began to carve up the knowledgeable feast when suddenly, one of the Piranha jumped out of the water and took off his right index finger right up to the knuckle. Bruce screamed out in horror more than pain as the bite was so surgical, his nerves had not caught up to the reality as of yet. "What the fuck!" he gasped in utter surprise. "Holy shit, what the fuck!" As he stood there in shock more than pain, he watched the saucer sized fish make fast work of his finger until there was nothing but bone. A feeling of depression came over him as he realized this was for good. If he had chopped his finger off himself dicing up sushi, he could have rushed to the emergency room and had it sewn on in enough time to be using it again within two weeks. Now his finger was merely a bone that was destined to lie at the bottom of the fish tank as a reminder of his carelessness. "I think you might taste good with some wasabi you bastard" he ranted. Now he had lost his appetite, he figured tit for tat on that one so he took the morbid morsel of brain and put it back into the fridge. "You guys have had plenty for one evening." he said as the pain began to register in his brain. "Owe!" he exclaimed as he tossed the rest of his Sushi meal in the trash devoid of appetite and finger.
The next day, he did his best to make it through the day with the aching of what was now his phantom finger. Snip, cut, slice went the surgical instruments as he prepared young George Rathbone for his viewing. Poor kid had run out into the street and didn't even know what hit him. Such was life, some got to see it through and some passed on without even getting to try its little perks like Sex and Sushi. Too bad, so sad for Georgy Boy, now the only hope of life he had was to be absorbed by his hungry quartet and if lucky, experience the life of a fish if there was anything to that transfer of soul and body article he had read in the periodical entitled, "The Mind and Beyond". Oh well, lucky for him if it were so.
He moved little Georgy's body into the waiting room that separated the viewing room from his little abode. He could now put up the no vacancy sign as his little room of four beds was now occupied. Business had been good lately and a good thing for him considering the cost of Sushi these days. "Mmm, Sushi," he thought as he contemplated where he would try for dinner tonight. What a bitch that he was missing his finger, how was he to hold the chopsticks now? He guessed he would have to become a lefty and get used to it. No problem, it would taste as good regardless of which hand he used to eat it.
"Itadakimasu! Welcome!" shouted the entire staff of the sushi bar as he entered. "Hello!" he replied still unsure of what the hell they were saying. "I'll have the usual, thanks" "Oh, very good, thank you!" replied the chef.
Bruce was feeling somewhat cheerful regardless of the loss of his digit. He decided he would stop at the corner market for a bottle of VO and the newest issue of Bitches in Heat.
‘Damn’ he thought, now he would have to learn to do other things with his left hand as well. Heck maybe it would be like having a new girlfriend, something he knew little about.
So having obtained his meal and picked up his date for the evening, he headed back to his little piece of heaven. On the way, he reminded himself of how he would need to be ultra careful around his little babies less he be slowly devoured piece by piece, how ironic would that be. Maybe he was getting a little payback from the grave for all his private quasi-cannibalism escapades. Perhaps the fish were somehow absorbing the souls of the human horoudrve's and were now out for revenge. What if the fish themselves were seeking revenge for the flagrant abuse of their brethren they had witnessed so many times on that little table, little knights of the cause, now enhanced with the souls of the humans they had been devouring. He laughed to himself as he turned right into the driveway of the little Mortuary.
He passed through the little viewing area and through the little storage room of dead bodies. If only he had been a little more aware, a little more in tune with his surroundings, he may have noticed something important, something actually vital to his future, but he did not. He was so set on digging into his feast of fillets, that he did notice the one thing that might have changed his fate, the eyes. For what he had missed, the intensely horrifying thing he had missed, was that on all four bodies slumbering in the little room, the eyes were open, missing and probably still in the fridge, but open.
He opened the little door that separated the room of corpses from his happy home and flicked on the light. He walked over to the little table and dropped the bag of fish flesh on to it. Then he froze, not sure what was wrong but sure that something was, something was terribly wrong and he couldn't quite put his finger on it, his finger in it. He thought about his finger in the watery grave and then looked over at his tank of carnivores. He was completely still, his blood seemed to almost stop in his veins while he pondered what he saw. Not so frightening as peculiar, but at the same time, in the back of his mind, horrifying. Missing, the Piranha were all missing from the tank, the lid was open and they were gone. But how, had some exotic fish traders discovered his little zoo and made off with them? That seemed unlikely since no one knew this little room existed, he had never brought anyone back there. There weren't any doors or windows to the outside and no sign of breaking or entering in the front. Besides who would go further then four dead bodies just to see what they could find? Not many people he could think of, but they were gone. Gathering enough strength to get his heart pumping again, he started to peer around the base of the tank. He started to feel a little more easy as he knew he would look behind the tank and there they would be, victims of a suicidal mission to see what was on the other side of the glass. Easy enough for one to jump up hard enough to knock the lid open and out he would go, the rest performing the same feat of showmanship with a triple gainer out onto their heads. Damn, they were hard to get, he had to have them smuggled out on pack mule just to get them over the border where he could have them shipped amidst the myriad of tropical fish shipped each day to the USA.
As he looked around the backside of the tank, he heard a noise. It sounded like something broke and it was coming from the little room containing the dearly departed. It distracted him for a moment from the mystery at hand but then he looked back and found himself in a state of confusion again. No fish, anywhere, they seemed to have decided they didn't like the accommodations anymore and had moved out leaving all the furniture. This was a mystery and not a pleasant one, what a comfort to come home and find that your man-eating fish had decided to try out a new environment, your home. Suddenly there came a loud crash from the other room which now had his undivided attention. Maybe the crooks who stole his fish were coming back for his TV, or worse, him.
He quickly went to the light switch and flipped it off. Now that was stupid thing to do he thought considering he may be sharing the room with something that would soon be severing the toes from his feet. Real bad idea, he was now trapped with no way out and something was coming, it was unmistakable that he heard something moving in the little room and it was far too big for four little fish. He turned in the dark and headed for the other end of the room suddenly tripping over the coffee table and crashing head on into the fish tank. You would think they would have made these things with double pained glass for the amount of water they held but not this model. His head breeched the glass as if it were made of Melba toast. With the breech came a gushing torrent of water and glass that cut his face and arms while rinsing him tidy of any mess, this being fortunate for his white shirt.
Now, he was cut and wet with a four inch gash across his cheek, in the dark with fish thieves poised at the door. This wasn't going to be the night of food and sex it had promised to be, it wasn't going to be good at all.
Just then he heard a noise in the dark, the knob, the door knob was being worked as if by someone who had never encountered a door before and wasn't sure what to do next. But it was unfortunate for him that it didn't take a college degree to figure it out. The door knob squeaked as who ever or what ever was on the other side seemed to master the art of knob turning in only three easy lessons. He sat there, unable to move, unable to get himself off the floor and head to the bathroom to make a stand. He sat there and watched the lighted crack in the door grow, grow into a horror that he could not have fathomed in his worst nightmare. For standing there before him, backlit by the little light in the other room, was little Georgy Rathbone, dead Georgy Rathbone.
His horror was incomplete however, for this nightmare came with extras. Behind him were the three other once dead bodies, all bidding him to show some hospitality. As his eyes focused a little more, his mind suddenly wanted to shutdown, it wanted no part of this. It was going on vacation by hook or by crook because it was just too much horror for any one mind to experience. Not only was he seeing the dead bodies of four of his gourmet fish food donors standing at the door, each one had the most jagged and vicious teeth you have ever seen, jutting out of their mouths, piercing cheek and gum. These were not human teeth, these were the teeth of Piranha.
Slowly the horde of unearthly killers entered the room, they seemed to move in a non-human almost frenzy-like motion, all intertwining and crazed, yet direct and purposeful. What ever the cause of this horror, whatever the misdeeds that created this anomaly, he was sure of one thing, tonight, he was "Sushi Man"