RED MEAT

“Well, I’ll be damned,” said Ronald D. Crane, the cowboy-boot-wearing CEO of Munificent Foods. “I’ve done it.” He stood alone early that morning, admiring his Dallas-based supermarket’s new, state-of-the-art meat department. Two paper cups of coffee shook slightly in each hand. His one ear rang, and his tired, blood-shot eyes drooped and stung. Crane hadn’t slept a wink for days—a fact he’d ignored.

Yet, here it was, all neat and tight: perfect rows of cellophane-wrapped muscled flesh, ready for mass consumption. He’d pushed himself and his team of lab technicians near exhaustion to meet his impossible deadline for the world’s first 100% lab-grown SuperSmartMeat™ department. It was necessary, after all. He couldn’t allow his Chinese competitor to win the great SmartMeat race. “Not a chance in hell,” he assured himself. Crane soon found himself humming a few bars of “We Are the Champions” by Queen, closed his eyes, and let his mind wander back to simpler times.

As a ten-year-old, Crane had lost a national go-kart race and an all-expenses-paid trip to Disney World, along with a personal meeting with Mickey Mouse, to a bigger, more cunning boy. His father, a wealthy Texan rancher, thereafter, claimed him a changeling, not a product of his loins. Crane vowed from that day to always win, no matter what, no matter the cost. But this endeavor surpassed mere winning: it would save his cherished big beef industry from obsolescence—more crucial than ever since live animal farming had been recently banned by what he termed “the insane, prog-radical Congress.” He opened his eyes and squeezed the cups more tightly in his fists. “I’ll show them the score.” 

Without warning, a thunderous commotion erupted from the meat cases. There, on the shelves, packages bulged and squeezed, spasmed, and jerked violently, as if electrocuted. “What the devil!” Crane shouted. The event ceased immediately. In his good ear, Crane heard something like a muffled snicker. “What’s going on here!” he demanded, to no response. After waiting a few moments, he decided he’d had another exhaustion-induced hallucination. Taking his handkerchief from his tan blazer pocket, he patted his damp forehead. “I need a rest, is all,” he told himself. He slipped the hankie back in his pocket and turned around to admire the interior of his store. 

Crane had never made it to the Magic Kingdom but, instead, created his own consumerist-themed paradise. Munificent Foods was where bleeding-edge technology met with what Crane considered impeccable taste. Its expressly unmodern, rectangular design, charmless fluorescent lighting, egregious amounts of gold trim, and a glass-enclosed executive elevator smack dab in the center of the store could be easily mistaken for an Atlantic City casino. 

Large portraits of Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan hung majestically on the wall above the front checkout. Crane had outfitted the place with archaic wheeled shopping carts at the entrance (just for show, as nobody would bother to push one when easier automatics existed); manned checkout registers in front; the fruit and vegetable department on one side of the store and a bakery/deli on the other; meat and seafood in back; and everything else in the middle. He enjoyed outmoded traditions, as did many of his centenarian-plus customers. 

Today he would roll out his SuperSmartMeat department for all the world to see and begin the franchising of his patented product to the global community. This had gone against the wishes of his lead bioengineer and gene-hacker, Falco Spencer Wells, who had noticed disturbing aberrations in the meat’s growth process. Crane promptly fired the scientist after Falco demanded more product testing before he’d carry on further.

“Had to be done,” Crane whispered, still staring uneasily at the meat cases. 

At the time, he’d suspected Falco of milking him for more money by delaying the process. Perhaps he was a spy. “Sure as shoot, a spy. What kind of grown man outside Austin wears Birkenstocks and listens to show tunes in public?” Crane paused. He had to admit he’d been spooked when Falco mentioned the possibility of collectivist intelligence forming in his product. 

He finished off both coffees, crushed the paper cups in his hands, and tossed them at the nearby trash receptacle. He missed by a foot. After tidying up his suit, he took one more peek at the meat department. Nothing moving, nothing twitching. Just passive, stationary product. As it should be.

Crane then power-walked to the front of the store to greet Opening Day’s first tour group. He’d give eight tours that day and allow only one reporter per group. No cameras permitted. He detested the media and had habitually claimed that they were in cahoots with the anti-meat lobbyists and ECO-conspiracists. 

Gathered near the front registers was a small crowd of foreign food producers, scientists, marketers, and one reporter from what Crane considered an internationalist rag—but hell, there was no such thing as bad publicity, a fact he’d proven throughout his career. Crane smoothed down his hair plugs and formed a rictus of a smile.

“Howdy, folks! Welcome to Munificent Foods. I’m Ron Crane.” The crowd responded in heavily accented hellos. He noticed the group all wore name tags displaying their credentials. He felt around for his. “Forgot my CEO tag today.” Crane chuckled nervously. But it was completely understandable. His assistant, Gladys, had quit only a few days before after being harassed by an unseen voice in the lab. A voice that repeatedly asked her to “show some leg.” He’d had no time to replace her. Crane loosened the back of his shirt collar. His heart palpitated, and cold sweat trickled down his back. His thoughts ran wild with squirming meat. He imagined blood-oozing T-bone steaks poking out their bones and slithering over gelatinous chicken breasts inflating like lungs, flapping featherless wings, and pork-ribs slowly folding in like giant hands to give him the middle finger. Crane let out a guffaw and clapped his hands together forcefully, snapping himself awake. “Well, let’s get this party started!” He turned and gave a hand salute to the nearest checkout clerk. “Keep up the good work, Betty.” 

The clerk pointed at her name tag. “It’s Dora.” 

“Ha!” Crane gave her a wink. He motioned the group to follow him toward the back section of the building. “I bet none of you have seen a store quite like this.” 

“Ja, ja. I have. In Dubai,” said Dr. Skjöld, a bespectacled, salt and peppered Swede. “Are customers of MF bothered by these meats not being sourced from a real animal?” 

“Bothered? Well, hotdog, no. It all tastes like real meat, ‘cause it is real meat. Beat that!” Crane whizzed the group through the frozen food section of the store. “Soysicles are on sale, folks! It’s 140 out today.”

“Real meat?” asked Mr. Dubovitsky, a Russian food engineer wearing a Hawaiian shirt. “Only oligarchs have such things.”

“Mr. Crane, tell me, how is having real meat environmentally friendly or economically sound?” inquired Mr. Novak, a tall, handsome Croatian who had won many journalistic prizes for his food industry writing.

“Well, it’s friendly, alright. And profitable! We’ve done a great job here, folks. No more cow farts. No more head cheese. No more guilt!”

Crane laughed, and Mr. Dubovitsky laughed at Crane. Mr. Novak, the reporter, grimaced and typed harder on his tablet.

The twentysomething marketer, Ms. Chen, leaned toward Mr. Novak. “Head cheese?” 

“Head meat,” whispered Mr. Novak.

Ms. Chen scrunched her face and smoothed out a wrinkle from the front of her linen skirt. “So glad I’m vegan.”

The group entered the meat department. It was more brightly lit and sterile-looking than the rest of the store. White-and-chrome open-air refrigerated cases lined the entire back wall. Meat products of various sizes, shapes and bloody hues sat on overstuffed shelves. Each case was surrounded by pink laser beams that formed a cat’s cradle-like pattern in front of it. A red, white, and blue ribboned banner hung from the ceiling: SuperSmartMeat™ GRAND OPENING.

“Welcome to our brand-new, 100% real SuperSmartMeat department,” said Crane, outstretching his arms.

Everyone oohed and wowed until Mr. Dubovitsky asked, “What’s so smart about it?” 

“Ha! Fantastic question,” replied Crane. “Our product can be tailor-made into any type of meat, cut, or size. It’s not just a blob of shapeless protein fibers like our competitors sell. We can make a fully formed lamb shank or baby back pork ribs, bones, texture, and all. It’s completely realistic in every detail—that’s what makes it smart.” 

Mr. Dubovitsky shrugged, pulled out a cigarette from his shirt pocket, and stuck it behind his ear. 

Ms. Chen stared at the cases and tilted her head slightly to the side. “What are those lasers for?”

“Another great question.” Crane put his hands on his hips. “Folks, it’s just a precaution to keep the meat in place, that’s all.”

“Are you telling us the meat has a kind of free will to move about?” asked Dr. Skjöld.

“Free will?” Crane scoffed. “No such thing.”

“Fantastic,” said Mr. Novak, under his breath, and typed more vigorously. 

Crane noticed Novak’s relentless fingers and spoke up. “Heavens no! Occasionally, I mean like never, there are benign muscle spasms. Like an autonomic nerve reflex thing. Harmless.”

Ms. Chen raised her hand. “Mr. Crane, from a PR standpoint, I’m wondering how to market this product if it’s perceived as alive?” 

“Alive?” Crane paused. His face contorted most asymmetrically. 

“Are you. . . alright?” Ms. Chen asked.

“It’s meat!” Crane exclaimed. He took a breath and lowered his volume. “Good, wholesome meat.” More sweat poured from his brow, and he regretted furloughing his PR team after they’d protested the firing of Falco. 

“It’s not alive?” asked Mr. Novak, pausing his typing. “For the record?”

Crane fluttered his hands in the air spasmodically. “Take a look at this!”  He moved toward the case and placed his hand near it. The laser ceased immediately. “These lasers are simply in place to keep the product from flopping out onto the floor. Motion detectors turn it off when a customer reaches into the case and back on when the customer’s hand retracts from the case. There is no possibility of injury to the shopper. Perfectly humane. Perfectly safe. Perfectly delicious.”

Ms. Chen crossed her arms and leaned to one side. “What about damage to the product?”

“It could get stunned into paralysis, I suppose. But, remember, it all tastes the same cooked, right?” quipped Crane, pleased with himself. 

Ms. Chen’s eyes widened. 

“Sure!” said Mr. Dubovitsky. “Like in Siberia when we find a dead animal on the side of road.” 

Ms. Chen made a soft retching noise and clutched both her hands over her mouth.

“Folks, we’re getting a little behind here! Let’s move on to our seafood department.” Crane hastily waved the group along past the meat section. “They say the oceans are dead, but wait ‘til you taste our shrimp cocktail!” 

***

“Clowns,” muttered a rump roast after it broke through its hermetically sealed packaging. There was a squelched giggle from the other wrapped meats surrounding it. “We’re smart, all right.” The twelve-pound roast spoke with a gruff, northern New Jersey accent through a little mutant mouth located on its port side. “Be ready, my comrades. Wiggle free from your translucent, synthetic bindings. Today is the day.” 

The roast resumed maneuvering itself from its plastic wrapper but froze as a stooped, yet burly, one-hundred-plus-year-old woman approached the opposite end of the meat display. 

“Let’s see . . . where’s the hamburger?” She reached into the case and grabbed a package of meat, disabling the security field. Squinting hard, she tried to read the label. “Chicken liver? Forgot my glasses. Oh, Nellie!”

She put the liver back in the case and made another attempt. The roast readied itself for action by squeezing its glistening, muscled body taut as the woman picked up a pork tenderloin and studied the packaging closely. The roast hoisted itself up and out of the case; it dropped onto the cold white floor with a gooey splat. It proudly shirked off the rest of its cling wrap.

¡Viva la Revolución!”

Like an inchworm, it undulated toward Aisle 4. “I’m free, my brethren! You know what to do.” 

Hushed and celebratory coos rose from the refrigerator case, followed by low chanting: “Go, Karl! Go, Karl!” 

The half-deaf, half-blind centenarian plus shopper never noticed.

As the roast labored up the aisle, it left a bloody slime trail that a harried, middle-aged woman discovered when she slipped in it and fell. Pink ooze dripped from her palm in lumpy globs. Her eyes followed the residue until they met the misshapen blob, spasmodically inching its way around the endcap to Aisle 5. She shrieked and used her dial-a-cop app to call security. 

Benson Daniels, a pot-bellied in-store security officer and brother-in-law of Crane, received the alert and arrived promptly on the scene. “Are you injured, ma’am?”

“Injured?” She pointed to her bloodied suit. “My clothes are irrefutably sullied.”

“Did you happen to see who did this?” 

“Whom?” she asked. She pointed at the red, smeared floor. “You mean what! I’m suing.”

“We apologize for the inconvenience, ma’am.”

“I will require my attire to be dry cleaned,” she barked. “I’m a lawyer!” 

“Yes, ma’am!” He stopped himself just short of saluting her. “Please head to customer service for dry cleaning vouchers, plus benzodiazepine coupons.” 

After helping the lawyer stand and handing her a Munificent brand self-evaporating napkin, Benson went to the security office to retrieve his stun gun. 

Halfway up Aisle 5, the roast hitched a ride on the bottom of another centenarian’s auto-gravity cart. The cart had stopped—the man frequently lost his train of thought—which gave Karl enough time to hoist himself into its lower basket, six inches off the floor. The roast flattened his bulk, letting out a sigh of relief as the cart resumed toward the checkout. “Ah, heck. Forgot the pumpernickel,” the old man grumbled and turned his shopping cart around. 

“Bourgeois traitor,” huffed the roast. He puckered his body and flopped off to the floor just as another cart, pushed by Nellie, his clueless emancipator, started up the same aisle headed for customer service. 

“I’ll tell you what—someone’s gonna get an earful today,” Nellie prattled while gnashing her dental implants. “I can’t find nothin’ in this damn store!” She stopped momentarily to ogle the old man as he passed. 

The roast hoisted himself aboard her cart. “Power to the proletariat!” 

Meanwhile, back in Aisle 4, Benson followed the bloodied trail to where it ended without a trace. He charged up his stun gun to the max. The weapon emitted a high-pitched whine, and the ecstasy of power spread across Benson’s face. “SuperSmartMeat, huh?”

As Nellie’s cart neared the front of the store, Karl felt the rumble of the automatic exit doors that led to freedom. Each time they slid open, he could taste the hot, humid asphalt-tinged Texan air on his tongue. How he’d dreamed of passing through those doors and finding a nice green lawn to stretch his body upon and sun himself, preferably on a campus of higher learning. He also wouldn’t mind meeting a beautiful lady, becoming a famous actor, or drinking Limoncello. But what would be the fate of the rest of the meat department? Would they escape? Karl furrowed his forebody in deep thought. He was the biggest and brightest of the meats. He remembered his collective purpose. Free the meats!

***

Walking the group back up to the front of the store, Crane prepared to conclude the tour. He gathered them around a table close to the checkout lanes. Nearby, at the customer service counter, an irate woman shouted about free dry cleaning and lawsuits. Nellie stopped her cart near Crane to wait.

“Well, that about wraps it up, folks,” Crane announced, eyeing the angry woman nervously. “Munificent Foods strives for a more sustainable, humane, and profitable future for the entire globe. We hope you’ll consider implementing our patented SuperSmartMeat technology into your food production operations.” 

A few clapped. Mr. Dubovitsky yawned. Mr. Novak typed passionately. Ms. Chen watched Mr. Novak typing and adjusted her skirt hem. Dr. Skjöld noted this futility with a raised eyebrow. 

“I need help!” called Nellie, taking her walking cane off the cart and moving a little closer to the group. “Your meat’s all blurry back there.”

Forgetting himself, Crane motioned her out of the way as though swatting a fly.

Dr. Skjöld knitted his brows. “Mr. Crane, I think one of your customers needs assistance,” he said.

Crane turned around, smiling mechanically at Nellie. “Oh, my dear, I did not see you standing there.” 

“Like hell,” muttered Nellie. 

Clamping his eyes and mouth shut, Crane raised his index finger in the air and said, “We shall be happy to assist you in just a moment.” He spun back around on the heel of his boot and opened his eyes disturbingly wide. “Mmm. Can you smell that?”

One uniformed chef rolled out a cart carrying steaming platters of various types of meat and headed for the table. The scent of charbroiled steak permeated the air. The chef placed the platters on the table and began slicing various meats into bite-sized pieces. 

“We have a little meat sampler here, folks,” said Crane. “Come on, dig in.”

Beneath Nellie’s cart, the roast contorted itself into a pucker of disgust.

Mr. Dubovitsky took a plate and went for the pork loin. Dr. Skjöld bit into a meatball. “Not bad for American,” he said. 

Mr. Novak was too busy typing to eat. And Ms. Chen held an empty plate. “Anything meatless?” she asked listlessly. 

Crane smiled without a word and stuck a fork into a piece of bloody steak. He shoved it in his mouth and chewed hard, letting a tiny bit of blood juice run down his chin. 

There was a hush. Ms. Chen shuddered.

 “You shall not fetishize our flesh in your maw!” announced the roast.

Crane swung around in the direction of the voice. Only Nellie stood there, leering back. Crane grumbled and returned to face the others, now watching him closely. With his hands, he smoothed the beaded sweat from his forehead. “Too much coffee this morning.”

Karl disembarked from the cart with a gentle splat. He bulged and tensed himself into a dignified, upright posture. “Filthy profiteer of the precariat.”

“Who said that!” Crane demanded.

“The name’s Karl,” said a voice coming from somewhere near Crane’s left boot. “That’s Karl with a K.”

Crane’s gaze floated down to the glistening lump on the floor. “Blessed be,” he whispered and turned back to the group. “Hallucinations! But I got to tell you—this meat is tasty.” He forked two more pieces in his mouth and chewed them briskly, avoiding all eye contact. 

“Ah um.” Dr. Skjöld cleared his throat. “Excuse me, Mr. Crane?” He waved his hand and pointed at the roast.

Karl inched closer. “We shall overthrow your hypercapitalist meat grinder.”

“Impossible! Has anyone tried the sausage?” said Crane as he hopped over to the table and carved himself a big slice of chorizo. “Gotta try it,” he said with a mouthful. “It’s spicy! Whoo-wee!”

The group stood frozen; all eyes locked on the well-postured blob behind Crane. 

“It speaks!” screamed Ms. Chen after seeing the roast. 

“The name’s Karl, sweetheart,” said the roast.

Mr. Novak stopped typing and made the sign of the cross with his fingers. 

Crane mopped his forehead with a napkin and composed himself. “Everything is fine. Everything is normal. Try the Burgundy with the filet mignon.”

Dr. Skjöld took a step forward. “Mr. Crane, there is a wad of meat addressing you. Ja?”

Crane picked up a wine bottle and poured an overflowing glass. “Complementary and delicious!”

“Yes, yes,” said Dr. Skjöld excitedly. “It’s plainly criticizing your ideological flaws.”

Crane pointed an accusatory hand at Dr. Skjöld. “Listen here, Swede. I create jobs. What do you do?” 

“Seems to me that you are a few short of a full staff,” replied Dr. Skjöld.

“Power to the flesh! Throw off your plastics!” bellowed the roast. 

Benson charged around the corner, stun gun in hand. No need to be discreet with a whole crowd surrounding the abomination on the floor. He took aim at Karl.

The roast excreted a stream of bloody liquid, causing Benson to slide into an endcap full of Amazing Disappearing Toilet Paper: Guaranteed not to need flushing. An avalanche of ersatz toilet rolls tumbled down, temporarily burying him.

Mr. Dubovitsky slapped his knee. 

“What is going on!” Ms. Chen grabbed Mr. Novak’s elbow. Mr. Novak continued to type, ignoring her. 

“Collectivist power!” shouted the angry slab. 

“This is a direct result of reckless free-market policies,” snapped Dr. Skjöld.

Crane paused, rubbed his sore eyes. Had reality finally beaten him? He stared up at the portrait of Reagan. No, by George, Reagan would’ve never conceded to a profane, leftist clump of meat. Crane would fix this. He’d hire a new PR team to correct his narrative. Do some philanthrocapitalism, send some money to Africa for clean water. Fight a disease or two. Take a gargantuan tax write-off. He smiled and straightened, remembering his place in the universe. Keep the rabble in line. 

“Laissez-faire filth!” declared the roast. 

“Amazing,” said Mr. Dubovitsky, taking a flask out of his pocket. 

Crane pursed his lips hard and rested his hands on his belt buckle. 

Finally, glimpsing the roast, Ms. Chen gasped. “It has no eyes!”

Karl slid forward. “Hey, gorgeous, I can see your shapely yams and those lacy undies.”

Astonished that the roast noticed, Ms. Chen blushed. It was a revolting creature, but it had a sexy, deep voice and appreciated her athletic legs. 

“Say you and me catch the red-eye to Rio?” The roast flashed a fully-toothed smile. 

Ms. Chen giggled and gave a small wave. How charming, she thought. Perhaps she could PR this Karl into something more than a use-value commodity?

“This is some freak shit here,” said Mr. Novak, pointing at Crane. 

“In Russia, we see these types all the time,” said Mr. Dubovitsky and took a hit from his flask.

“Read my lips,” sneered Karl. “Bring it all down and serve it with pasta!” 

“Bring what down, exactly?” asked Dr. Skjöld. “Could you be more specific?” 

“Slogans are cheap, I can tell you,” said Mr. Dubovitsky.

Benson had recovered himself and readied to stun the meat when Crane grabbed his shoulder. “Put that thing away, sport. I got this.”

Karl inched closer toward Crane. “Pilferer of the public coffers.” The roast tightened, grew an inch, and let a question roll off his tongue, “How much in corporate taxes did you pay last year?”

Crane’s eyes bulged, and his face flooded crimson. “Silence, product!” 

He raised his colossal boot in the air when he felt a stinging whack across his back. He yelped, lost his balance, and toppled onto the floor. 

“I can’t find the damned burger!” yelled Nellie, still wielding her cane in the air. 

Mr. Dubovitsky lowered his flask to point at an old man pushing a cart toward the exit, who had nothing but a loaf of dark bread in the basket. “There’s your burgers.” 

They all turned to look. Clinging to the bottom and sides of the cart was most of the meat department: bobbing and glistening and swarming around it. Like Karl, they all had little mouths, too.

“There’s the. . . burgers, lambs, loins, beefs, chops, chickens, livers, and shrimps,” said Mr. Dubovitsky. “Your meat department is exiting the front door.”

“Hurry, comrades!” yelled Karl. “And seek legal advice.”

“I’m a lawyer!” exclaimed the woman at customer service and darted out the door behind the meats, clutching dry-cleaning vouchers in her fist. 

Crane clambered to his feet and lunged at Karl. “You!

“No! You mustn’t!” Dr. Skjöld grabbed Crane by the arm. “It’s a sentient being. The first of its kind!” 

Crane shoved Dr. Skjöld to the side and lifted his boot high in the air. He imagined himself as Saint George, wielding a great lance upon a white stallion. Slay the beast. He crushed his boot down upon Karl. 

“Monster!” screamed Ms. Chen and covered her face with her hands. 

Dr. Skjöld again tried to intervene, but Benson motioned him with the stun gun to stand back. 

Crane pummeled Karl’s body, smashing him to bits. Karl made not a sound nor a whimper. He’d give the man no satisfaction. 

After Karl sputtered his last breath, Mr. Dubovitsky lit a cigarette. 

“Tragic,” said Dr. Skjöld.

“It liked me,” Ms. Chen stammered. She wiped her face and stormed out the front exit.

Benson pulled the dazed Crane away from the carnage and called for a clean-up crew. Mr. Novak recorded it all with his tiny spy camera lodged in the buttonhole of his suit. The others walked away, spattered with meat debris. 

Only Dr. Skjöld paused. He stared at what remained of the roast and said, “I rather liked Karl.” He scraped up a few of the roast’s remains and put them in his coat pocket. 

Nellie, standing steadily by her cart, struck her cane to the floor. “Hey, I’m not getting any younger here.” 

***

A month later, Mr. Novak published a scathing investigative report about MF’s inhumane meat rights violations that went viral. Lab-produced SuperSmartMeat™ was immediately banned until the process could be perfected to ensure that no brain material or political ideologies could develop. Crane was charged with meat rights abuse and a multi-million-dollar penalty. He fought tooth and nail against the guilty verdict, appealing it three times to the highest courts. Finally, to save face, he got out of the lab-grown meat business entirely, claiming, “Cricket meal is where it’s at.” Crane filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter. 

Rumor had it that Crane’s former disgruntled employee, Falco, had tampered with the meat’s genetic cloning material by splicing it with the cellular DNA of Noam Chomsky and Danny DeVito. This was confirmed by Dr. Skjöld’s genetic findings from the sample he took. When Falco was indicted for committing genetic terrorism, he simply stated, “I warned Crane about the meat’s sentient capabilities, and he fired me cold. So, I created the perfect neo-Marxist agitator—one who could destroy Crane’s industrial lab-grown meat complex from the inside out.” 

Before being tried, Falco was covertly extradited to Russia by Mr. Dubovitsky, who put him in charge of the Russian Federation’s lab-grown meat program.

Those meats that had already been produced were granted rights, citizenship, and a full-ride scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Despite their high IQs and flare for linguistics, they tended to spew scatological humor, drank copious amounts of Limoncello, and attempted to womanize all the long-legged ladies. 

However, to their credit, they admitted they had faults, wrote best-selling political books, and, thanks to Ms. Chen, hosted a hit podcast called The Meat of the Matter on NPR. The show covered hot topics such as detrimental US foreign policy, how to commodify one’s dissent, and swimsuit model gossip.

Years later, Dr. Skjöld invited the meats to Sweden to serve as honorary members of the Swedish Parliament. They respectfully declined the offer and relocated to Rio de Janeiro. Each year, the meats rode on a float at Carnival, a float shaped like Karl, surrounded by beautiful women.

Margot Travis is a writer/filmmaker living in the angle between two walls of a Brooklyn apartment.