A Nairud Calling Card
a mostly-true tale of exotic forbidden food and an exotic woman
The following story is true, with some minor decoration and artistry thrown in..
It was a Sunday afternoon, on a blustery March day, and we had spent much of the day together, talking, in her cozy and beautiful studio apartment on the upper East side of Manhattan. She was an actress and model, orignally from Europe, now living in New York. I did not mind the chilly day at all; it gave me a chance to be indoors with this intelligent, articulate, sensitive and beautiful creature; originally from in Switzerland, Greta had also been a singer and actor in Paris; her soothing singer's voice still held strong traces of her Swiss and Parisian history. Behind our heads as we chatted was an altar of small handmade fabric angels, made by her 92 year old grandmother, surrounding a bronze statue of a reclining goddess, her pussy being eaten by a man folded between her legs. We had been discussing possibilities for an outing: we had already ruled out a run in Central Park because the day was too cold. Gradually, we both seemed to converge on the idea taking a subway to downtown Manhattan to explore the shops and exotic stalls in and near Chinatown.
Greta confided that she wished to visit a few herbalists in Chinatown, and then, appraising me with a strange look in her eyes, she added, ". . .there is something I want to purchase with you. We can eat it when we return. It is a large spiny egg, with five or six large pods inside. Inside each pod is a large fat baby, a human fetus, only half-formed. Babies, raw, not well formed, but they are dead. They taste good! And, they are raw! It is an exotic treat! Ahhhh, . . . I almost never do this. But this -- I want to share this with you."
Catching the excitement in her voice, I nodded and assented, my eyes tracing the straight lines of her strong shoulders, her beautiful strong eyebrows, green eyes, and the perky cones of her breasts limned by her tight shirt. In my state of attentive arousal toward her, I probably would have agreed to almost any suggestion which did not seem to pose the threat of immediate fatality. In any case, she was obviously suggesting an illicit activity, and what better way to more closely bond with this beautiful creature with the heart-rending voice than to share an illegal pastime together? Besides, I reasoned, the fetuses must be dead, so they would likely not mind being eaten. If this reasoning seems specious and obviously self-serving, I humbly plead mea culpa. I was in lust. Looking back, the logic makes little sense to me either.
We put on extra layers of clothing, and left her apartment for the sunny and cold streets of upper Manhattan. We walked two blocks to Lexington, and took the number 6 subway to Canal street. Once in Chinatown, we started to search the Asian markets, led by Greta, who seemed to know what she was looking for. She examined and then passed by at least two dozen Asian groceries, produce markets and fish markets. Finally, on a dismal side street, she approached a vendor selling all kinds of fresh vegetables, fish and meats -- an old Chinese woman -- and quickly said some words which I could not hear. The words may not have been in English; Greta is fluent in several languages, including French. The woman blanched, looked Greta up and down, and then looked at me. After a long minute, she shrugged, and fumbled under the counter. As she did so, I felt something brush my thigh. I looked down, and an extremely large geoduck clam (pronounced "gooey duck") retreated its long neck a bit and worked its mouth at me. It was in a bin of perhaps a hundred such clams, all alive. It reached toward me again, like an errant penis searching for something to inseminate. Greta looked at the clam and shuddered. Next to the clam bin was a tub of several dozen live crabs with bright blue rubber bands on their claws. Beyond those tubs were dozens of tubs of exotic dried medicinal mushrooms. A strange smell filled the air. Something felt bizarre; I shuddered. After a minute, the woman handed Greta a bag which seemed to contain a large spiny football. Greta nervously but eagerly handed her a ten dollar bill. I felt a tug on my sleeve. I turned, half-expecting to see the geoduck clam, pulling this time, on my sweatshirt. Instead, I found at my left side a very old and very skinny Asian man with bright eyes. In perfect English, he said to me "Here, take this card! I know what you came for!" I held up the card and started to examine it. I was able to discern a strange symbol on the card, vaguely floral, and a single word, written in large letters on the card; the word began with "NA. . . ", but the N looked very strange. The old man restrained my arm, and gently but firmly guided the card into my pocket. I looked in his eyes, prepared to argue, but his eyes were filled with the intensity of all creation. I sighed, and let go of my nascent argument -- it would be like arguing with God or with a large mountain. He smiled, and whispered: "Do not look at card now! Tomorrow, look at it and turn it over to read the back side!" His bright eyes burned at me, not unfriendly, but with incredible intensity. He pushed me, and said "Go join your friend! She is impatient! She wants to leave!"
I joined Greta, now starting to move on the sidewalk, and we made our way back to the subway station. I offered to carry the bag, and she yielded it gladly; she dislikes carrying bags on city streets while I do not mind at all. The bag turned out to be heavy. I could smell a faint aroma from the it, like death, and somehow I felt a strange and subtle energy from the bag. I felt a vague excitement of anticipation, and somehow this disturbed me. I felt that I had perhaps let go of all caution and my morals, and might now be permanently doomed.
Somehow, the return journey on the subway, which should have been very routine, was not smooth at all; we seemed to keep ending up at wrong stations in wrong parts of Manhattan, and we need twice to hop other trains to get closer to our final destination. Finally, we took a train which should have taken us back to our starting point of 51st and Lexington, but we ended up at 57th street on the West side instead. I was puzzled -- Greta had lived in Manhattan for 10 years, and used the subways every day; she should know them like the back of her hand. Something was obviously afoot. I turned to her and suggested we finish our journey above ground, and that we walk the remainder of the way back to her apartment. She agreed, and then turned, and facing me, said to me "Those diversions were necessary, in case the police had staked out the vendor. We cannot afford to have them trace us!". She would say no more on the topic. However, she seemed to carry a slightly different energy. She had a purpose.
Back at her studio, she insisted on opening the bizarre egg in the kitchen sink. Up close, it was a large tan spiny object the size of a football and shaped like a very bristly warthog, rather egg-shaped, but with a dent in one side. It stank. With obvious relish, Greta took a sharp knife and carefully opened the outer shell. It looked a bit like a vegetable inside, but for the fact that the vaguely disagreeable odor had suddenly turned one hundred times worse. The smell was that of an old sewer pipe or a compost bucket gone bad. The further Greta cut, the worse the stench became. It became obvious that there were six or so long pods inside the egg, shaped almost like the sections of a grapefruit, but ten times larger. Greta carefully cut tissue, fibers and veins to free one, and then opened the pod, again with a knife. A new and even worse stench was released, gagging us.
Inside the pod, however, was something even stranger and more arresting. Standing at Greta’s side, I felt it was the most awful and horrible, yet wondrous thing I had ever seen in my life: a six inch long bloated yellow fetus-like object. It looked like a mid-stage human fetus, but was somewhat larger, unnaturally bloated, and yellowed. It stank, and was obviously dead. Greta, with great care but even greater relish, cut the tissues and veins holding the fetus in its strange pod and freed it. I had a brief half-crazed memory of a scene from the remake of the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers , where pods laid on shop floors hatched human-like creatures. Great placed the half-moon shaped object on a plate and began to dissect it. She cut free a piece of the rotting meat and handed it to me. She said "Eat it, it is good, and. . . it is raw! But, beware, in every fetus is a stone. Do not eat that. Spit it out. Their hearts turn to stone when the soul, in fury, is forced by the sorcerors to leave the little body so the fetus may die for the sake of the fruit. So do the kidneys." The piece perched on my fork looked much like scrambled eggs, with obvious folds of tissue and skin, all with a strange yellow cast and soft texture, much like very soft and runny scrambled eggs.
I hesitantly bit into the piece of meat. I froze. The taste was other-worldly, and heavenly, a rich and creamy custard of the gods. It was deliciously sweet and fatty and creamy and rich at the same time, with dusky and smoky undertones, like the forbidden vagina of an ancient near-forgotten Earth goddess reclining in a dark primeval forest. It was obviously not something from this world. I ate the whole piece, and then eagerly ate some more. Greta finished extracting four of the fetuses and dissected them on a plate. She then led me to her bed, where we sat together and ate this disgusting but entrancing feast for a quarter of an hour until we were so stuffed we could barely move. She could tell me little more about the mysterious egg than what she had already told me: a forbidden food, one known only to certain people in certain parts of the world, and traffic in the eggs was obviously clandestine. She could not and would not tell me what it was called.
Two days later, on a Tuesday morning, I took the subway alone back to the same vendor's stall in Chinatown. The geoduck clams were gone, as were the medicinal mushrooms. The Chinese woman guarding the stall was gone as well, a man now in her place, also Chinese. I nervously approached the man. Within a minute, despite the obvious fact that he could not speak English, he handed me four large and heavy plastic bags, and I handed him several large-denomination bills. Clutching the bags, I quickly made my way back to the subway for the ride uptown, back to my hotel. I would bring these four stinky eggs back home with me in a few hours on my journey home from New York City on an Amtrak Metroliner. By now, I was nearly addicted to the taste of the strange smelly, decaying, bloated yellowed fetuses inside the eggs. Suddenly, I remembered the card the old man had given me two days earlier. I scanned the subway car -- it was nearly deserted. There was no one near me; no one would be able to look over my shoulder. Carefully, I extracted the card from my pocket. It emitted a strange smell. The front spelled one word in large black letters. The word was nonsensical: "NAIRUD", and some of the letters looked strange. Suddenly, I remembered the strange and cryptic instruction which the old man had given me. I turned the card over. There, in blurred fashion, was the bleed-thru of the inked words from the front side of the card stock, spelling the word "DURIAN". I sighed. Durian, the food of the gods. I remembered that I had once been told as a child that it is a terrible thing if a human lives an entire life and dies without knowing love, and an equally terrible thing if a human lives a life and dies without tasting durian. I sighed again. I remembered also that it is said in Malaysia "When the durians go down, the sarongs go up!" I sighed again, and clutched the four bags more closely to my torso, tears in my eyes.
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