Angelica's Heart, Part 3

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Read Part 2

By Dan McClenaghan

ClonedPigsBBCFrank Phillips, a fifty-three year old widow has received an experimental heart transplant from a cloned donor pig named Angelica. He is traveling north in a limousine from the Baja California clinic that supplied him with his new heart. Dr. Amali Mahanthappa, the clinic's director and his personal surgeon, accompanies him. Once past the border, rolling into the United States, the limo driver (the limo and driver supplied by an anonymous benefactor) stops at a Hooters for sustenance, picks up a waitress, and makes plans to transport her with them to Los Angeles, to confer with the benefactor.

Nando, the limo driver, pulled off the freeway in San Diego and steered through another maze of city streets onto an avenue of wall-to-wall apartment complexes. One set of blocky beige buildings after another, all but identical in architecture and color. An enormous hive.

"Dr. Mahanthappa," I said.

"Do me a favor: My name is Amali."

I considered this. "Amali," I said slowly, savoring the word. "Three musical syllables." A smile played on her lips. I hoped that meant I was forgiven for my harshness at accusing her of blackmail. "What's with Trina, this Hooters Girl thing, Amali?"

Dr. Mahanthappa's face hardened. Her mouth pinched into a tight bud as Nando pulled off the street and into the driveway of one of the apartment complexes, the Eucalyptus Arms.

"My guess is that our driver has been given orders to trawl for potential concubines, in case our benefactor's, um, retinue of the same proves unsatisfactory."

"He has a retinue of concubines?" Who would presumably be at my disposal? At one time in my life, pre-Jolene, my dear departed wife , this would have seemed enticing. Now it just made me sad.

"He does," said Dr. Mahanthappa, "of a sort."

"Ain't that something." I said, as Nando entered a sprawling carport area. I looked out the car's window as we passed a young woman in dark gray banker's business attire, carrying, in the inverted cone of a parking lot light, two plastic bags of groceries toward the doorway of a ground floor apartment.

Nando found a parking space and braked to a stop, as the vision of Jolene eclipsed the sordid scene of the swarm of writhing concubines that swam in front of my eyes. My departed wife's expression was soft, kind. Jolene mouthed the word "Sam."

Sam, my youngest child. We'd found out about his diabetes when he was 17. His weight was down to a hundred and twenty pounds on a five-foot, ten-inch frame, and he told Jolene that he was pretty sure something was wrong with him. I brushed it off. She didn't. She took him into the Urgent Care on a Friday night, the first day of the Memorial Day weekend, despite my claim that we could wait until Tuesday for such a vague complaint. They checked his blood, his sugar, and told her he wouldn't have made it through the weekend. They started him on the insulin immediately.

Dr. Mahanthappa's plan to create in the clinic's Angelica pigs an array of non-rejectible organs—including pancreases that could cure Sam's type 1 diabetes—forced my decision right there and then in the back seat of that limo, to dance to this fool benefactor's tune, no matter what.

Nando got out of the limo and set off to find Hooter Girl Trina's apartment.

“Every time my Sam wants to put something in his mouth, he has to dig out that insulin and the needle,” I said to Dr. Mahanthappa. Amali.

“A pain in the butt way to live, Frank. We could change all that.” She turned and faced me. A parking lot light shining in the back window softly lit the left half of her face. She smiled. She was lovely. I couldn't stop myself from smiling back. “When's the last time you made love, Frank?”

Under different circumstances, I might have thought this a prelude to an offer. But this was Dr. Mahanthappa's medical side talking, I was sure. I was also sure we'd been over this before, before my acquisition of Angelica's heart. But I repeated my sad answer.

“It must be four years now, since before Jolene got sick.”

“And you never took some comfort outside your marriage during that difficult time?”

I felt a deep ache in Angelica's heart, now mine. “It wouldn't have been a comfort. It would have been a dirty betrayal.”

She turned away from me, back to face the front of the car. “I'm not doing well with this, Frank. What I'm trying to get at—" she turned my way again and reached across the gulf between us to place her hand on top of mine “is that if this somewhat sordid thing we're going to have you involved in makes you uncomfortable, and, um, performance is an issue, I want to remind you that I am a doctor.”

“I hope so.”

She made a fist with the hand she'd laid on top of mine and gave my upper arm a soft punch. “I mean, I can write you a prescription for something.”

“Oh, you mean an ED drug.”

She nodded in the dim light. “It might make your ... audition go more smoothly.”

I wasn't sure of what to say. Rescue came with the arrival of Nando and Trina, with another young woman in tow. The other woman was identical to Trina, from the top of her chestnut brown hair to the bottom of her white sneakers, and the Hooters t-shirt and the short-shorts bulging at the seams in between.

“Twins,” I said.

“No shit, Sherlock,” said Dr. Mahanthappa, glaring out the side window as the trio trekked across the parking lot in our direction. Before they arrived, the good doctor swung her door open and bounced out of the back of our limo to intercept Nando and his girls. It didn't have the look of a cordial interception.

“This isn't going to happen,” the doctor said, stabbing Nando's chest with a forefinger.

The finger poke from the doctor nudged Nando back a step. He brought his hands up, palms forward in a placating mode. An artificial smile strained his face. “Easy, Doc. Relax.”

“I didn't spend eight years of my life busting my ass on my xenotransplantation game to serve up my prime experiment to a couple of over-ripe, venereal disease-ridden bimbos.”

Trina and her twin, each with an identical sports bag and cantalopian boobs, looked at each other, then back at the doctor. “Who's this bitch calling a bimbo?” they said in perfect unison.

“Who are you calling a bitch?” said the doctor.

I came out of the limo and sidled around in front of the doctor. “Amali,” I said. “Calm down girl. It's not going to happen."

“Who's the old guy?” said the twin who had not served me a burger and beers at Hooters.

Nando said, “Now, Rose, that's not a nice thing to call your new boyfriend.”

“Fuckin' boyfriend? Since when did auditioning for a centerfold shot involve having an old guy for a boyfriend?”

“Centerfold?” I said.

The doctor shot a quick look at me, then directed her attention back to the twins, “Why don't you just shut your mouth, slut face, before I shut if for you.”

If the girls didn't like the idea of being called bimbos, “slut face” was even less popular. Two sports bags dropped simultaneously and hit with a harmonic thump on the blacktop. Nando tried to stop their charge. Trina hit him with an elbow to the side of the jaw that dropped him. Dr. Mahanthappa grabbed the front of my shirt and spun me around and pushed me so hard against the front fender of the limo that I ended up seated on its hood, safely away from the action, with the heat from the clicking engine warming my buns. Her pirouette, positioning herself for the onslaught of the twins, included a high leg and a foot that connected with the side of the head of one of the girls, the one not Trina, I believed, the one Nando had called Rose. The recipient of the kick went over like a chain-sawed tree and bounced hard on the blacktop. The other girl—Trina herself, was my guess, by process of elimination—screamed like a cat and moved in on the doctor full of sharp claws and feline fury. The doctor danced a deft side-step and gave Trina a kick in the ass as she wooshed by, sending her right at me. I rolled to my left to the front of the limo and off it to the ground. Trina hit the hood with a metallic thump, sprawled briefly on the hot metal before she writhed around to meet her adversary again, while her twin sat bleary-eyed in an empty parking space, slack-jawed, shaking her head to clear a fog of a minor concussion. Enraged, Trina came at the doctor low and began the wide-open swing of a haymaker that started down by her heels. But the doctor delivered a front kick to Trina's chest, dead center between those breasts the size and shape of a pair of  volleyballs.

Meanwhile, the perception of ostentatious wealth combined with the cat screams and the cursing were a catnip to the hive inhabitants: A score and a half of Trina and her sister's fellow apartment dwellers had appeared out of dark walkways into the fuzzy yellow illumination of the parking lot lights in what seemed an eyeblink. Virtually all of them had cell phone cameras.

A week later, on the the Las Vegas Monorail, I watched the incident on YouTube on an iPad provided by my benefactor. It had been posted seventeen times, from seventeen different points of view. My favorite was an edited compilation that drew from all of the other perspectives, rolled out in glorious slow motion: The twin not Trina took the side of Dr. Mahanthappa's foot in the temple. Her hair exploded slowly from her head, her eyes bulged, her posture went ramrod straight with scrambled neural impulses, and she went over, drawing a small cloud of dust as she did a rubbery impact on the ground, then lay there with her leg twitching, as a different camera swept to catch the doctor dancing a fluid samba step out of the charging Trina's way, then delivering the ass kick that sank deep in the supple flesh of the girl's right bun, sending out a series of provocative, gelatinous, undulating ripples in the ripe flesh. Even in slo-mo, Trina's stay on the hood was brief. She spun and floated off the hood in altered gravity, her mouth wide open, teeth bared, eyes on fire with murderous malevolence, her left hand, balled into a small fist, floating back, down and behind her torso. Then Amali's knee rising, her foot snapping out in front of her to catch Trina between the boobs, two spheres that remained in place as the girls sternum went concave. The separated breasts clapped together, embracing Amali's foot, then bounced apart, and Trina's feet left the ground as she sailed oh-so-slowly away from the impact into the side of the limo, her arms going akimbo, a silent scream coming from her mouth as she fell face first onto the black top, and Nando and the doctor moved in, took me by the arms, and danced me into the back seat once more.

But that, the YouTube show, was later. For the time being, it was back in the limo with my now hyper-ventilating doctor, doors slamming, tires screaming on the limo's exit from the Eucalyptus Arms, and me not quite sure what had gone down, it had all happened so fast. And now I was off to see my benefactor and a retinue of concubines, with the hopes of a pig's pancreas in my son's future.

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About Dan McClenaghan

I write stuff. I began with my Ruth and Ellis/Clete and Juanita stories in the early 1980s. At the beginning of the new millennium I started writing reviews of jazz CDs, first at American Reporter, and then (and now) at All About Jazz. I’ve tried my hand at novels, without success.

I’ve been published in a bunch of small presses, most notably the now defunct Wormwood Review. This was in the pre-computer age, when we whomped up our stories on typewriters, then rolled down to Kinkos to make copies, which we stuck in manila envelopes, along with a return envelope with return postage attached. Times have changed.

Aside from the writing, I am married to the lovely Denise. We have three wonderful children and four (soon to be five) beautiful grandchildren; and I am a two-time winner—1970 and 1971—of the Oceanside Bodysurfing Contest. Kowabunga!