“You’re asking for a list?”
“Yah. Say you’re in a bar fight, and you’re going to lose an organ or two. Which ones?” We were, of course, sitting in a bar: me, Moose and Olaf. Olaf was always asking hypothetical questions like that, especially when he was drunk.
“Easy-peasy,” said Moose. “I don’t want to lose –“
“And you can’t say any of your reproductive organs.” Olaf waved off Moose’s objections. “That’s too easy.”
“Shit. Those are the only ones I really use.” Moose rose unsteadily and aimed himself at the men’s room.
“We just counting organs, or do glands count, too? ‘cause I think you can lose your thyroid or pituitary glands – you just take the drugs they were producing.”
“Whatever. If you got ‘em, which ones can’t you loose. Lose.” Olaf had been drinking two shots to my one, and I’d had enough to be a bit buzzed. He must’ve been hammered.
“OK. Let’s start with the ones you CAN lose: spleen, gallbladder, and appendix. People have those removed all the time, and they do just fine.”
“This is true. But I can’t see how you’d lose your appendix in a bar fight. Nor gallbladder neither. Spleen, sure: football players have theirs damaged and removed by a bad impact.”
“Yeah, but ‘bar fight’ is pretty nebulous. The guy could have a knife, a broken bottle, even an icepick. You get punctured in the right place, and it’s good-bye, gallbladder.”
“OK. Knives but no guns. Which organs DON’T you want to lose?”
“Well, start with the ones you need to survive: brain, heart, lungs…pancreas. You can lose one kidney, but not both.”
Olaf was counting off with his fingers – but on the hand where he’d lost his pinky. He switched to his other hand. “That’s five. What else don’t you want to lose?”
“Skin!” came a voice from below. “Biggest organ you losers’ve got! Not me, though.”
We both looked over the table. Moose hadn’t made it to the men’s room after all. He was lying on the floor. He had also apparently used another organ: his bladder. Fortunately, the floor was slanted, and the urine puddle drained away from us.
“You don’t want to lose your skin,” agreed Olaf. “But I don’t see how you could lose all your skin in a bar fight.”
“No one even scalps anybody anymore,” I said.
Olaf raised his glass. “To the lost art of scalping!” We clinked glasses and downed our shots. Then I refilled our glasses from the bottle, because, why not?
“If we include glands, you can lose your tonsils and adenoids. I had mine taken out when I was a kid.”
Olaf shook his head. “If someone can reach inside and down your throat to remove your tonsils in a bar fight, they belong on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ not….” He didn’t seem to know how to finish that sentence, but I got the idea.
“He’d need a lil’ baby arm to fit in your mouth ‘n’ reach down your throat,” Moose said from the floor.
I didn’t even want to think about some killer baby reaching inside my mouth.
“Moving on,” I said. “You want to keep up the fight, you need your eyes. And your ears.” Ears were on my mind, since, at the moment, I couldn’t seem to hear out of my left one. “You can live without your nose, but I got mine broke once in a fight, and it hurt so bad I couldn’t even see. Can’t fight with that kind of distraction. Sense of taste, I suppose I could do without that.”
“Nothing tastes right anymore, anyway,” Olaf said. “Not even this scotch.”
I was pretty sure we were drinking bourbon, but I didn’t bother to point that out.
That reminded me. “Stomach! That’s an organ. Don’t want to lose that.”
“To eat with?” Olaf asked. I heard the sirens of the cops arriving.
“To drink with!” We lifted our glasses to toast again. My glass kind of stuck to the table. I realized that the blood from Olaf’s severed pinky had spread across the tabletop. Or maybe it was blood from the stump of my left ear.
“Guess it’s time,” Olaf said. The police were at the door, screaming at us to raise our hands and get on the floor. As if I’d get on the floor, wet with the blood of the guys we’d killed! And Moose’s piss. I noticed that Moose hadn’t said anything for a while – he was probably dead of his wounds, too.
“Go out with a bang?” I asked.
“Only way to go,” said Olaf.
We didn’t even manage to get our guns out before the cops shot us down.
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Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tony Conaway has written and ghostwritten everything from blogs to scripts for planetarium shows, including non-fiction books for McGraw-Hill, Macmillan and Prentice Hall. His fiction has appeared in seven anthologies and numerous publications, including Blue Lake Review, Danse Macabre, qarrtsiluni, Rind Literary Magazine, the Rusty Nail, and Typehouse Literary Magazine. He also enjoys reading his stories in public, such as Noir at the Bar events.