One night I went to the grocery store, alone as usual, wandering around, trying to find something to destroy my loneliness, because that’s how healthy people deal with sadness. They eat something disgusting. I heard the siren call of Hell come to me from the canned meat section, and I saw a tall can with an American homestyle red-white-and-blue color. It sang to me in a dead language, a language that disappeared from the face of this mortal coil with the fallen angels, as God struck them into Hell.
“Dennis,” said the can. “Fuck you.”
I looked at the can, reading its label carefully, as if I had unearthed an ancient artifact. Sweet Sue Canned Whole Chicken. I almost threw up. Then I bought it. Someone once said that there’s nothing more dangerous than a man with nothing to lose. Whoever said that is right.
Back at home, I sipped on bourbon while I contemplated the can. It was almost midnight. The room began to swim and suddenly a can opener appeared in my hand. I found myself reading the inscription on the back.
Remove chicken from the can. Be sure to save the delicious broth. Place chicken in an uncovered pan, baste well with some of the broth. Place in a hot oven, 475° for 10 to 15 minutes. Baste two or three times while heating. To prepare a delicious gravy, brown two tablespoons flour, mix in a cup of broth. Allow to thicken over burner until desired consistency. A delicious chicken soup may be prepared by adding rice, cooked noodles or dumplings to the broth.
Other Excellent Uses
Creamed chicken and mushrooms, chicken ala king, fricassee or serve cold just as chicken comes from the can.
CHILL BEFORE REMOVING FROM CAN
DO NOT HEAT IN CAN
I frowned. The can used the word “delicious” three times. It lacked the use of the Oxford Comma, telling me that there was something unholy about the entire inscription from The Ancients. It suggested I recreate a dead recipe, “Chicken ala King,” which sent shivers down my spine and into my cavernous ass.
Then I read the worst words of all: Serve cold just as chicken comes from the can.
I began cackling madly to myself as I repeated the words, “Chicken comes from the can.” I laughed and muttered, “Your mom comes from the can.”
My eyes grew dark and I followed the directions, summoning Hell with every excruciating turn of the can opener. I opened the can and I heard a strange noise, almost as if a very small child was shrieking. It was me.
I prepared the abomination as instructed. The madness inside me swirled like a maelstrom of chocolate pudding being dumped down a toilet.
The deed was completed. When I poked at it with a fork, the entire thing nearly disintegrated. I sampled a small morsel. It tasted like partially digested baby food, as it melted inexplicably in my mouth. I tried the “delicious gravy.” The “delicious gravy” tasted like a wet fart. I threw the entire thing into a sealed chamber (a tupperware container), and disposed of the entire thing.
Something inside me died that day and never, ever, came back. It was my dignity. All of it.