My friend the deli cook picked up a dead chicken and accurately jammed it down on the prongs of a metal roasting rack.
He listened as I fumbled for words.
“The trouble is that not everything comes at once or in the right order. It’s just bits and pieces all over the place, it’s just…a mess…it’s just…” Description failed.
He nodded sympathetically and turned back to the cart holding 23 more chicken carcasses waiting to be prepped.
“…It’s just like Frankenstein!” I finished, triumphant. Now the words were working! “You start out with, with one kidney and an eyeball, and you have to make – the rest of the body! You never know WHAT it’s going to look like! None of the pieces seem like they’re going to match up!”
He carefully reached into a chicken and pulled out the neck, and then a second neck.
“Sometimes I start out with one piece of writing and by the time I’m done editing it’s a completely different piece of work! You have to cut off anything that’s not absolutely essential. You have to be really ruthless, especially with your own work.”
A gushing sound interrupted my thoughts. He was draining a tray full of bloody liquid and marinade spices into the drain in the middle of the floor.
“…Do you need help with that? No? Great. Uh, what I mean is if you haven’t planned stuff out it’s not always obvious to readers what you’re trying to say, so you have to just really get in there and work with it.”
Chunks of ice from inside a half-defrosted chicken hit the floor drain, joining the remains of the marinade. He held up another chicken, cautiously checked inside, then pulled out more ice.
“And there are just some pieces that never really take off.”
“Did you remember to attach the legs?” he asked, apparently out of genuine concern.
I looked at him.
“Now that’s overextending the metaphor,” I said, and went back to minding my own business.
I left him with his chickens. I’m so glad I don’t have a messy job like that.
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