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Words make the world go round ...
Nature's Sweetener
04/02/09 at 03:00 PM by AbsoluteINK
Author's Note: Here's a little story I wrote about a man called "Jessup". This is a commentary on American society and there are tons of hidden meanings. You MUST read closely. Ok, i'm lying. It's only skin deep. But if you can draw some bigger meaning out of it, i'm all ears. I hope you all like it.

Nature's Sweetener
Noel Feldman

Jessup’s stomach unleashed a baritone growl. Mrs. Huang smiled through clenched teeth as her grip on the yellow stress-ball tightened. Her hand quivered slightly.

“Almost full, Mrs. Huang,” Jessup said. “Keep on squeezing.”
He thought about lunch, but not for too long.

“Let’s get you disconnected.”

Jessup put the vial of Mrs. Huang’s blood in the refrigerator and looked at his watch. Without a word she got up and waddled to the front desk. Jessup shut the door behind her. Privacy was rare at the lab—and he’s the kind of guy who needed it.

Lunchtime could never come soon enough for Jessup. But he was not a large man in any respects. His body was covered with minimal hair, his head quaintly shaped and he had the hands of a mannequin. He was more than secure in his own skin, pale as it may have been. Jessup was always a legend in his own mind.

He poured himself a glass of his wife’s homebrewed iced tea—with plenty of breathing room, of course. Then, like a zombie, he walked over to the refrigerator with one powdery white hand extended in front of him. The droning hum inside the fridge always got Jessup’s adrenaline flowing.

“Nature’s sweetener,” he said aloud, sharing a brief laugh with himself.

The refrigerator door swung open, initiating a long selection process. Jessup fingered through the rows upon rows of vials. It was all incredibly fresh. Nothing over 35 days old. And he had all of the types to choose from. He settled on some of Ms. Gervais’ nice O+ from a few weeks back.

Jessup held the vial up toward the fluorescent light. A true, healthy red. He unscrewed the cap and poured about half of the vial in his tea, afterward stirring it with his pinky finger. He stuck the finger in his mouth like a recently pricked diabetic and then dried it on his pants.

Jessup reclined. He knew today would be a long day.

He raised the glass of sweetened tea to his lips and took a small sip. Just testing the ratios. He licked his top lip and then smacked both of them together several times, causing a chain of delightful “pop” sounds. Jessup approached his unique style of drink mixing like an artist. On some days it came easily to him. Other days he felt uninspired. But today Jessup felt adventurous. After all, it was Friday and he was not looking forward to the looming family trip to the shore this weekend. So why not treat himself to an exceptional lunch?

With a shrug of the shoulders and a chuckle, Jessup emptied the rest of the vial of O+ into his drink. Without hesitation he walked back over to the refrigerator in search of another flavor to add. He thought back on the different clients he had this past week. Mr. Calico popped into his head first—all 350 pounds of him. He always seemed to have sauerkraut on his breath and grime under his fingernails. But his blood. Oh, his A blood was as red as a Chinese sunset. Jessup grabbed Mr. Calico’s most recent vial and placed it in a rack on his desk.

But this wasn’t enough for Jessup. He shimmied back over to the refrigerator and opened the door. He held both hands in its chilled mist and twinkled his manicured fingers toward the plethora of vials like a shaman conjuring spirits. He rifled through his mental Rolodex:

Mr. Cortez—thin blood. Mr. Stephens—Parkinson’s. Mrs. Hudson—sickle cell anemia. Mr. Blanco—steroids (make blood taste too metallic). Mrs. Ballenholtz—best enjoyed alone. Ms. Rayburn—idiot.

Jessup usually wasn’t this picky. He just wanted today’s mixture to be especially perfect. For times like these he had his “go-to” clients—the best blood around. He’d never gone wrong with Ms. Phillips’ blood. She was a beautiful Yale grad with a lisp. Her tongue might have been enlarged, but there wasn’t an impure cell in her entire body. He grabbed a recent vial of her AB and set it next to big Mr. Calicos.
At that point, Jessup had Ms. Gervais’ O+, Mr. Calico’s A, and Ms. Phillips’ AB. He knew he’d need at least one vial of B in order to balance out this mixture. Jessup also knew all of his clients’ blood types by heart. The B’s were on the tip of his tongue. But which one?

Mrs. Atwater—alcoholic. Mr. Torres—wonderful, but had it yesterday. Mr. Richardson—nah. Mr. Jumanji—can’t drink my brother’s blood! Ms. McHendrix—Bingo.

Marylyn McHendrix was legally a midget, but she preferred “vertically challenged.” She’s literally the only client of Jessup’s who was shorter than he. But that’s not the only reason Jessup liked her. She was also the only client who never needed the stress ball. Her blood flowed stronger than anyone he’s ever drawn from. He pictured her blood in the starting blocks like a sprinter. The needle like the gunshot. The tubes were the track. And the vial was the finish line. Her blood was so eager, so anxious, to get out of that body. Jessup believed blood has feelings. That’s why he didn’t go to medical school.

Jessup added her vial to the pile and began mixing. The O+ foundation meant it was best to add Phillips’ AB next. He emptied the whole thing into the homebrew. Next he added all of Calico’s A into the mix. Lastly, Jessup drizzled McHendrix’s eager blood into the tea. She’s a wonderful catalyst, he thought.
In the bottom drawer of his desk, under a stack of wordy liability forms, Jessup kept a box of plastic spoons for the occasions when his pinky just won’t do. He fished out a fresh spoon and violently stirred his concoction. It had taken nearly twenty minutes for Jessup to sweeten this batch of tea. Lunchtime was nearly half way over. This frequently happened to him. Some days he’d get so fed up with the mixing process he’d lose his appetite.

Jessup flopped his body back onto his tall desk chair, more than ready to commence his Friday feast. Last night’s meatloaf between two slices of Wonderbread and a glass of sweet tea: decadent. After a bite of sandwich, Jessup raised his glass to the ceiling like a wedding guest and nodded his head once. Bottoms up.

The tea entered his mouth and ran its course over his taste receptors. He kept the tea in his mouth just a little longer than usual before releasing its sweet nectar into the abyss of his innards. His stomach sunk. The tea just wasn’t up to par.

Without hesitation, Jessup made his way over to the supply cabinet and flung the door open. Since none of these bloods could meet his high standards, Jessup had only one choice. He grabbed the necessary equipment from the cabinet and returned to his desk. He unbuttoned his left sleeve and carefully rolled it up to his paunchy bicep muscle. He strapped a tourniquet onto his arm, causing his veins to rise like crocodiles in a swamp. Jessup connected the needle to the tubes. Then, instead of hooking a vial to the open end, he submerged it into his drink.

The fingers on Jessup’s left hand tingled as his veins inflated more. They sat vulnerable and exposed under the fluorescent lab lights. Jessup slowly lowered the needle toward his arm, stopping just before the tip pierced his skin.

“I’ll be damned if this doesn’t work,” Jessup said aloud, smoothly pushing the needle in to his arm.

Drawing your own blood is a lot different than drawing someone else’s. It’s a whole new perspective, kind of like tying a tie.

Jessup watched as his tea ever so slowly creeped toward the lip of the glass. After a few seconds, Jessup ejected the needle from his skin. He then withdrew the tubes from his glass and tapped them on the glass to clear them out. He licked his arm where the needle had been and applied a Band-Aid. Lunchtime was over in ten minutes.

Jessup took three large bites of sandwich to make up for lost time. He worked the large ball of food down his esophagus and reached for his glass. He placed it to his lips and took a major gulp—even swallowing some small ice cubes. Jessup was pleased to discover that the tea tasted phenomenal.

He took a deep breath and wiped some sweat from his forehead. Jessup never really liked needles.
Tags: absoluteink, natures sweetener, noflo
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