Tablecloth by Robert Lee

“Well fuck man. You took your time getting here. It’s Marko right?”

“Yeah. Dr. Guggenberg?

“Gugg is fine.”

“Right. Sorry to keep you waiting. I took a wrong turn down one of the hallways.”

“No sweat. Hey, didn’t mean to snap at you. Just fucking tired you know?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“You bring your own stuff?”

“Uh …”

Marko produces a white apron from a canvas tote bag and a hunting knife from a sheath on his belt.

Gugg whistles. “That’s a nice blade you got there. Nice handle.”

“Yeah I guess so. It was my dad’s.”

In the basement of the abandoned high school, the halogen lights flicker like a beacon of epilepsy. Gugg scratches his head. “Well Marko, I’m not big on small talk, so I’m going to leave you to it.”

“You’re going? Where?”

“Where? Home.”

“Wait! Uh … I mean … do you have to leave so soon?”

“What’s the matter?”

“Uh … nothing. I mean –”

“Marko, I’ve been here for hours.”

“It’s just … it would be good to have someone look over me.”

“What? Are you serious?”

“Well ... I mean actually … it’s just that I’ve never …”

Marko’s eyes fall to the floor and Gugg’s eyes widen as he realizes what Marko’s next words might be. “Oh Jesus. Please don’t say what I think you’re going to say.”

“It’s my first time.”

Gugg raises his hand to his face, shuts his eyes and squeezes at the bridge of his nose. When he opens
them, he stares murderously at Marko.

“What the fuck do you mean you’ve never done this? Why the fuck did Carl send you down here then?

“Carl said I needed to get practice … said that you’re a good teacher.”

“That cunt. Carl told me I’d be getting a partner, not a fucking student.

“You only have to show me some basic stuff and then -

“Fuck man! I mean … Fuck!”

“I’m sorry. You don’t have to hang around for long. Show me how to do it once and then I’ll be fine.”

Gugg shakes his head. “Ah Christ. You really have no idea do you?”

“I’ll be okay.”

“Yeah? We’ll see. Follow me.”

* * *

Muffled cries come from a naked obese man chained by the arms and legs like a starfish in the old high school gym showers. He is gagged and blindfolded.

Gugg spits at the man. “Shut your face you fucking fat shit.” Gugg walks behind the obese man and plunges a hunting knife into his lower back and jimmies it a little bit, severing the obese man’s spinal cord.

Gugg pats Marko on the shoulder. “He’s fully paralyzed now. That’s the first thing I do.” Gugg takes the blindfold off from the obese man, who’s still alive, eyes wide in terror. “I make ‘em quads so there’s no bucking involved. It’s also fun to see how long they stay alive when I skin them.”

Marko nods. “I see.”

“Well, he’s not going to get skinned by himself you know.”

“Uh okay. So where should I start?”

“It’s all about personal preference. I like to start with the chest and work my way down from there.”


Marko takes his hunting knife and steps towards the obese man, pressing the blade against his skin.

“Angle your knife towards the skin more Marko.”


Marko pushes down and draws blood. The obese man gives another muffled scream as Marko’s knife takes off a chunk of flesh half an inch thick. Dark blood starts to pour freely from the wound. The Obese man’s eyes stare at the square piece of himself in Marko’s hands. Shit starts to run from his anus down the inside of his thigh and vomit pours out of his mouth.

Marko steps back and gags. “Oh Jesus, that’s disgusting.”

“Oh, this happens a lot. Get used to it.”

The obese man’s vomit starts to drip into his open chest wound, blood and puke mixing together. Marko can’t hold it in anymore and throws up on the floor. The obese man’s eyes roll upwards to reveal whites, and his head tilts backwards, limp.

Gugg steps in for a closer inspection. “Well it looks like this one’s kicked it.”

Marko is still bent over, gasping air.

“Come on Marko. Don’t be a pussy.”


“Yeah, lots of it too.”

“It smells fucking awful.”

“Grab the hose over in the corner and rinse the guy off.”


“You cut a little too deep, but that wasn’t bad for your first time.


“Yeah. Here, give me that piece in your hand. Collect all the skin in this bucket over here okay?”


“You got balls doing this. I respect that.”

Marko nods.

“Well, there’s a lot of work to be done on this Orca whale, so the sooner you get done, the sooner you can get out of here.”


Marko starts to hose the shit and vomit off of the obese man’s corpse. “How long have you been doing this for again, Gugg?”

“Too long.”

“So what does Carl do with all this skin anyway?

“You don’t really want to know Marko.”

* * *

Carl is having dinner with a woman, Suzie, at his house.

Suzie smiles. “God Carl, the lamb is amazing!”

“Thanks Suzie.”

“I wanted to ask you a question about this tablecloth though.”
Carl smiles. “Yeah?”

“It has a very interesting texture. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I mean, this sounds crazy, but it almost feels like … dried skin.”

Carl looks at Suzie and grins, before bursting out in laughter. Suzie is lost for words, but she eventually starts to chuckle and laughs too.

Carl wipes a tear from his eye. “You’re a riot Suzie!”

“I don’t know why I thought that! Crazy thing to say.”

“Yeah Suzie. Crazy.”


Lee Hughes said...

Wonder if she's spotted the lamp-shade in the corner with the pattern of a human face mid-scream on it? Great Piece.

Christopher Pimental said...

Fun read.

Liam José said...

Welcome man!
Love the piece. Nice, fun, clean cut, if I can be excused for the pun... which I shouldn't be.