Conversations with the Grand Fiend: Dispeptic Moments

Contributor: Miles Gough

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It was an odd evening with the Grand Fiend. He was reluctant to talk. He begged forgiveness by stating he had a large meal earlier and it was not agreeing with him. He did not need to explain; it was obvious from his distended stomach and from his dinner kicking and hitting. I could see the rumbles and stretched areas where I made out the shape of the desperate fist. Truly, I could almost identify the brand of the boot pushing futilely for some freedom.

“Oh, how I wish for fleeter gastric acids. But that is beyond anyone’s control. The part I can control is the ostentatious flourish I have of swallowing my prey whole. It does nothing for the taste, just a party trick that amuses. Like someone who can toss peanuts high in the air and have them land in opened mouth every time. Of course, peanuts are small and have less of a vested interest to escape than my meal does.

“Mother said, don’t play with your food. But mother did become food, but not at that particular time. When I did eat her she didn’t offer me advice nor aphorisms, all she said as she slid down my throat was that she was once again disappointed with me. Actually, that is one of mother’s aphorisms after all.

The Grand Fiend chuckled, but the indigestion played on his face and he let things fall silent again. He belched up plague and nodded apology. “This is endemic for creatures such as me. We are cursed with poor digestion. If you see a loner in the corner constantly popping Tums or swigging from a bottle of Maalox, then you might have a nether fiend on the premises. Or you might just have mortal who eats too much fried processed foods, but still, one must be vigilant.

“For me, the feisty ones do not have any improved flavor, they are but annoying until they settle. I had one industrious morsel strike his Zippo lighter while he was interred in my stomach. The pain was terrible. I had to do something, so I reasoned, what to do with fire? Why you douse it with liquid. I took the closest bottle near me and guzzled. Naturally, it was a gallon jar of 150 proof rum. For three day, I was hiccuping fireballs.”

I poured coffee for us, and he ignored his glass. “I had one late night snack hitting me like he was a contender for middle weight champion. I was in such straights, but then I recalled that before I swallowed him, he was getting into a fight with another citizen. I hunted that second man out and swallowed him as well. The two fought each other, leaving my poor stomach lining alone. I can’t use that solution often. I was full after eating the first fellow. The second one was gluttony and so much saturated fat. No, the best I can hope for is that my victim will surrender quickly to his new reality. To give up the ghost, and become one.”

I was concerned. “How do you get through this, how do you let the pain pass?”

“All I can do is think of better times,” he said.

“The better times, when you are sated and at peace,” I suggested.

“No. I think of the times when I am hungry. When I am famished for hunting, for sport. When every person passing is potential. Is possible. When every encounter is backlit by lightning storms. When every gaze and gesture is a fait accompli for satisfaction.”

He looked down at the seismic movement of his belly. He suggested a game of Scrabble, but it was obvious on inspection that the game we had was missing half the tiles. So instead we let our coffees cool and listened to the wind rattle the shutters outside.

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