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Champagne by John Goodrich
by John Goodrich
Copyright 2007

It started, for me anyway, with organic milk. Most people seem to find it better–tasting, but I found it a bit, well, bland. Too dull. I’m a naturally curious person, so I tried to figure out what it was that made non-organic milk, the stuff that’s not supposed to be good for you, taste better to me.

I found out that cows that are treated with rBGH have a high incidence of mastitis, or udder inflamation, which causes open sores in the udders. So the difference I could taste turned out to be cow pus. I'd call the taste sweet, but it's not. It’s just very appealing. And don’t give me that look – how the hell do you stomach that bitter muck you call coffee?

Once I got over myself, and I will admit to a bit of self-loathing at the beginning, I sat back and wondered—well, where do I go from here? I did what every modern person does – I went looking for stuff on the Internet. It turns out there’s a small but quite dynamic group of pus aficionados. They got me to accept my particular quirk, told me how to be careful and not get caught licking some random guy’s pustule on a bus.

That small group — no I’m not going to tell you where to find them. If you really want to find us, you will. Anyway — our little group is a delight, and a real help to someone with my particular dietary interest. I no longer felt like I was alone. Turns out there have been pus-drinkers for a very long time. You know how some people will rave about a hundred-year-old vintage port or that coffee they make from beans they pick out of Civet shit? Well, the pus from different sources tastes different, some of it is sharper, others more mellow. Some even has a sort of nutty flavor to it. Really, it depends on the species and body chemistry of the donor, as well as exactly what their neutrophils have been attacking. Each disease or infection has a slightly different taste – it’s almost ethereal like the waft of a wine cork.

I stay with humans. They’re easier to access than most forms of livestock, since I live in a city. I once felated a homeless man for the walnut-sized pocket of smegma that had accumulated under his foreskin. What a thrill – the gooey and slightly chunky yellowish fluid filling my mouth. I still don’t know what cocktail of diseases the guy had, but what it produced was just so right.

But of course, you can only go so long on the regular stuff, right? Like a lot of people, I eventually got bored with what I could get, no matter how good it was, and went out looking for the exotic. P aeruginosa infections cause blue discharge, which doesn’t actually taste much different from the regular stuff, but there are just some things that you have to experience for yourself.

The brown pus you get when someone has liver flukes is a bit more gamey than the more usual infection seepage. The best analogy I can think of is the difference between actual cheddar cheese and Velveeta. One just has more complex character to it. But my palette is sensitive; you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

Humans seem to have a yen for what they cannot have. Plunk them down in a garden of Eden and tell them they can have anything but the apple, and you know damn well that apple’s going to turn up missing one day.

Of course the Internet group talked about what they’d had, and their best finds. Everyone over fifty agreed that the best vintage was something that hadn’t been around for thirty years.

Variola. Smallpox.

I’m sure that there was an element of nostalgia involved – you don’t have a drink for thirty years, and it either fades from memory, or becomes the best thing you can remember tasting. I tried to put it out of my mind. Some things are best left undone.

And yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’d be doing something, like drinking a McDonald’s milkshake, and the desire for Variola pus would just leap on me and claw at the back of my brain like an angry cat. What was it like? Smooth and creamy, they said, and more than a hint of an exotic flavor that is supposed to be unlike anything else. My other activities seemed bland. I kept waiting for this notion to go away, but it didn’t. Eventually, I decided to act on it.

I’m not going to tell you how I managed to get my sample. Let’s just say that while money can’t buy everything, it can make many things significantly easier. It took time and patience and planning in addition, but in the end, I got my sample. Nor is it as difficult as you might think to find and secure someone that no one will notice. In fact, it’s rather easy.

I didn’t think of them as people – they were the dregs of humanity, the most repulsive individuals I could find. The sort who make the world a brighter place with their absence.

I spend a few weeks in an isolated room watching – once the pustules appeared on the palms and soles of her feet, I knew I’d gotten my hands on the real deal. You couldn’t imagine my excitement. Here I was watching someone come down with a disease that hadn’t been seen since 1978.

As I watched in almost giddy anticipation as the pustules rose on my victim’s skin, I realized why they called it champagne . They rose everywhere, until the body looked like it had been boiled–blisters rising thickly on every conceivable surface. It would be a lot of work to get all the pus from each of these little containers. And yet, even as I watched, my ambition grew. Now that I had the means within my grasp, I would not be satisfied with just any champagne – I wanted the Dom Perigon.

I disposed of the body carefully and thoroughly. No sense in causing the nasty smallpox outbreak just because I’ve got a little twitch in my system. And so I procured another victim. The same result – the raised welts, discreet pustules. Medical articles do not tell you how to produce a specific effect or infection of a disease. It was just going to be a case of trial and error for me. And so went my third, with the by-now familiar and ordinary pustules. My thirst was quiet now, and I was focused. Nothing would stop me, all I needed was time.

My patience was rewarded on my fourth try; a confluent infection. I’m not ashamed to admit that I did a little dance when I found that the small red rings on the woman’s skin were not rising into pustules. Instead of forming discreet, individual blisters on the surface of the skin, confluent smallpox pustules erupt inward. They would grow thickly, and eventually burst, forming a layer of pus just below the skin. Eventually, entire sections of skin would slough off, followed by a draining rush of glorious pus. Confluent smallpox pus was abundant and easy to get to. I just had to pick a time.

I touched her skin – it was unnaturally, velvety soft. She was ready.

I had considered drilling a hole in her belly and just sucking the delightful liquor out through a straw like she was a giant milkshake, but I didn’t want the taste of the plastic straw to interfere with what was surely going to be a unique and refined experience.

I reached up and ran a scalpel down the taut skin in her back, and abruptly the skin ruptured, dumping in excess of a quart of viscid, yellowish fluid into the trough I had prepared. From there, it dribbled slowly, heightening my sense of anticipation, into a glass pitcher.

I held myself back until it was all in the pitcher, but the smell was driving me to madness. The bouquet was powerful, and unique. I poured myself some, admiring the thick liquid. It was primarily dead neutrophils, rather than the oily suspension fluid, and but surprisingly pure. It swirled easily, without chunks of inclusions of any sort as I trembled with anticipation.

It was the moment of my life to put the glass to my lips. And the first taste confirmed what the old timers had said. Utterly unique, and with a heavenly taste. I did not gorge myself, but rather made a day of it, sipping my treasure when the last aftertaste of the previous sip was gone. Some pus is simply meant to be savored.