Division of Infrastructure

“Blended Family”
by James W. Morris

–All right, let’s go. Where is it?
–Billy, you can’t just barge into my room like that.
–Mom sent me up to get it, Jimmy.
–Get what?
–She said we’re not to come downstairs without it.
–I have no idea what you’re talking about.
–The kidney. You’ve stolen Grandpop’s kidney.
–Did not!
–Yes, you did. He was minding his own business, eating supper downstairs, and he felt a sharp pain in his right lower back. When he turned around, his kidney was gone. Nice needlework, by the way.
–Thanks. I–
–Look. I needed it.
–What for? I’m the one on dialysis. If anyone should be stealing kidneys, it should be me. Not that I’d want Grandpop’s, though. It’s probably pretty used up.
–Actually, it’s in good shape, considering. It’s his liver that really looks terrible. Cirrhosis, you know.
–Well, that’s what happens when you drink two gallons of gin a day. That can’t be good for him, even if he does mix it with Geritol. Hey, wait a minute- when did you see Grandpop’s liver?
–Uh, what do you mean?
–You said his liver looks terrible. When did you see it?
–I think I said it probably looks terrible, something like that.
–No way. You’ve stolen other organs from Grandpop, haven’t you?
–I’m telling!
–Shhh. Just a few things. An appendix. A bit of pancreas. Adenoids. Nothing crucial.
–But a liver. A whole liver. He can’t live without that.
–He can’t?
–Well, then, that’s my bad. I should have known, I guess. It seemed like an important organ at the time. Lots of blood vessels and stuff. Mom’ll probably ground me now. No more XBOX.
–Jim, how did you learn how to do this?
–I’ll show you. There’s a book I got. I keep it under the bed. Here. Check out the title.
–“Naked Ladies: What You Can Do With Them When You Get Older. A Boys’ Adventure Book.”
–Whoops, wrong book. Give me that back. Here, this is the one.
–“Organ Transplants For Dummies.”
–But you can’t do this. A ten year-old can’t teach himself to be a surgeon.
–No, I wouldn’t call myself a surgeon. You have to be grown up and go to school for that.
–So what do you call yourself?
–A Junior Knife Enthusiast. I’ve been practicing. In secret. After school. Instead of going to band practice.
–I’ve been wondering why you’ve been coming home every afternoon from your oboe lesson soaked in blood.
–Right. Actually, I’ve been sneaking up into our tree house. That’s where I’m performing my experiment.
–But what is it? What are you doing with Grandpop’s organs?
–You’ll tell.
–I won’t. I swear.
–I swear I won’t tell Mom about your experiment.
–Okay. Well, what I’m doing is, I’m building something.
-Out of old organs? What?
–A super-grandparent.
–A what?
–A super-grandparent. My plan was to take little parts from all four of our current grandparents, not just the two we live with, and use them build one mega one, one that I can train, one that will really, really, really, spoil us.
–Great idea, huh?
–It has a certain insane beauty, I suppose, but- wait a minute! All four grandparents?
–Sure, the best of each. That was my plan, anyway.
–So, then, I almost hate to ask, but-what about Grandmom?
–Well, you know how Mom always says I have Grandmom’s eyes?
–Well, I do. Also her ears, her tonsils, and her left elbow. They’re in a coffee can on the back porch.
–Oh, my God. I’m telling.
–Wait! You promised you wouldn’t.
–I think Mom would insist on knowing why her parents have been cut to shreds. Oh no! Wait a minute! What about Dad’s parents, across town?
–They were fair game, as far as I was concerned. And you never liked them anyway.
–That’s true, but–
–They only give us five dollars for Christmas.
–Well, don’t worry. They’re safe. I ran into a snag there, had to start improvising.
–Snag? What kind of a snag? Your conscience kick in?
–Conscience? What’s that?
–Never mind. What was the snag?
–Well. Like I said, I had planned on using them. At first, I was just going to take non-essentials, work from there. Then I got to thinking. I was going to have to get a heart from somewhere, a brain from somewhere. Someone was going to have to be sacrificed. Grandpa or Grandma, Grandpa or Grandma? Then I realized that if they were both “harvested” I’d have a lot of back-up parts. I mean, who says I’m going to be able to implant a brain on my first try? And I don’t know how to hook up a human heart, not really. Miss connecting just one artery and the whole thing’s a waste. Plus, they’ve been married for, like, a hundred years or something, and if I just took one the other would really miss them.
–Very compassionate.
–Thank you. So. I decided to dismember them both. You know- humanely. And the more I planned it, the more I started looking forward to it. I bought these.
–What’s in the box?
–The label’s on the side.
–“Kiddie Kutters Scalpel Set. Super-Sharp Fun for Youths of all ages.” My God Jim, this can’t be legal.
–Well, like I say, I never got to use them on Dad’s parents, anyway.
–Why not?
–I had it all planned. I had taken the key to their house from Dad’s key ring and had a copy made. I waited for a moonless night and dressed all in black. I packed my scalpel set, disposable gloves, and a cooler with dry ice. I was ready. I had myself all psyched up. I climbed out of my window. I jumped onto that tree branch and, using a small winch I’d made in shop class, I lowered myself slowly and silently to the ground. It was then, only then, that I realized that I had overlooked one small fact. There was a flaw in my plan. There was one thing, one insurmountable obstacle that was going to keep me home.
–What’s that?
–I’m not allowed to cross the street by myself.
–So then I had to improvise. Use some parts from non-grandparents. Take advantage of opportunities.
–Oh yeah? Such as?
–I threw in Uncle Charlie’s spine. That’s what he gets for falling asleep on our sofa.
–I thought his posture was bad lately.
–And, uh, the postman.
–The postman?
–The postman.
–Now you are in trouble. I bet that slicing a mailman into tiny bits is against the law. A federal offense.
–Wow, really?
–Sure. Otherwise everyone would do it.
–Well, you promised not to tell.
–Anyone else?
–The paperboy donated some toes.
–And- Aunt Carol’s lungs.
–How exactly do you steal someone’s lungs without them knowing?
–I’d rather not say.
–Anyone else?
–Well, there’s you.
–Missing anything lately? No? Why don’t you check down the front of your pants?
–Oh, no. You didn’t!
–I did. Sorry.
–You know, I was planning to use that someday. A lot.
–I’ll make it up to you.
–Yeah? How?
–I’ll give you Grandpop’s kidney. Implant it now, the sooner, the better. It’s recently removed, guaranteed fresh.
–Sure. It’s right here. I’ve been using it as a filter in the fish tank. See? It still has a lot of miles on it. No more dialysis for you. And when I finish the super-grandparent I’ll make sure you get that pony you always wanted.
–But what’ll we do about Grandpop?
–We’ll give him your old kidney. He’ll never know the difference.
–But mine doesn’t work.
–But if what you said about his not being able to survive for long without a liver is right, it won’t matter anyway, will it?
–Nah. I guess not. Okay. Implant it quick.
–Okay. Lie on the bed.
–Afterwards I’ll go down and tell Mom that you stole Grandpop’s kidney as a one-time prank. But she said you’ll have to return it and clean your room if you want dessert.
–God! She’s so strict!

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