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Soup in winter

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To-day I am sitting in my favorite chair with a laptop on one leg and a cat on the other. Next to me is a jug of soup that is too hot to eat. I am flipping through my scrap book which traces the life and career of the decadently beautiful young actress Zooey Deschanel. I like to labor under the illusion that my cold hands might someday trace the lines of her sleek and impossibly soft waist.

But I am an old man and now my hands grasp only waste. I have wasted my life with women like her, women who--it pains me to face it--have had their choice of suitors and briefly and ashamedly threw in their lot with me. They learned their limits, that much I can say.

Enough of that line of thinking. The smell of my soup is wafting past my cavernous nostrils. The contents of to-day's repast are largely the succulent remains of an agent of the Federal Communications Commission, the rest of whom now sits behind me at my kitchen table, his empty chin resting on his exposed sternum. Care to hear my recipe?

I roasted his sacrum, talus, acromions, tibia and ribs uncovered in a 400 degree oven for about 2 hours, bringing them to a bark-like brown. Then I placed them in a large soup pot, added celery, cabbage, and yellow onions, and 5 quarts of water. I brought it to a simmer and cooked it for 12 hours, occasionally adding water and blood to keep the fluid levels up. Brains are like mushrooms; some like the taste and texture; others find it appalling. I like it. I like what it means. I add brains. At any rate, after 12 hours, I strained out all the non liquid ingredients.

I put the stock out on the porch, and in the morning the fat had risen to the top. I then removed and shared the fat with Fat Ass, my cat.

Then I took the one inch cuts of the meat of Mr. Williston--the FCC agent--and sauteed them with garlic and olive oil until brown. I added my beef stock, Guinness, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. I mixed them and brought them to a boil. Then I reduced the heat to medium-low, then covered and let it simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

While the meet and stock were simmering, I melted butter in another large pot over medium heat. I added potatoes, onion and carrots, sauteing them until golden.

I added vegetables the stew and simmered uncovered for about 40 minutes. I discarded the bay leaves and spooned off the fat. I added salt and pepper, and let it cool slightly. Now I've sprinkled parsley on everything.

My cat Carver is licking raptorously at Mr. Williston's sunken lids. Beaver chases his eyeball across the floor, pouncing and leaping and stalking it. Soon I'll throw Mr. Williston to the dogs. But for now I am talking with him. Talking to the dead man in the chair. I talked to him from the moment he appeared at my door. I talked him from life and health through torture, unimagineable pain, dying, and death. And even now I keep talking to him, quizzing him, interrogating him, chastising him and crying along with the still thrumming echoes of his death pleas. We are crooning a hellish duet, Mr. Williston and I.

Cats are a delight to have around, but a man can gain so much more from even a moment of human company.

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