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Fiction #28
(published February 22, 2001)
Mr Lipowicz's Liver
by Dan Winterstein

Perhaps it was all the drugs he'd taken as a student, but at the age of 34, Max Lipowicz's liver became conscious. Like all sentient beings, it desired companionship. Unfortunately its attempts to communicate were variously misinterpreted by Max as hangovers, indigestion and an allergic reaction to shrimp. In frustration, the liver developed telepathy. "Hello," Max thought, "I'm hearing voices." and wondered if this was due to all the drugs he'd taken as a student.

"Just one voice." his liver corrected, and explained who it was. Max, of course, headed straight for the nearest doctor.

"You're in perfect shape Mr Lipowicz." he was told after some prodding, both verbal and physical.

"Can't you find anything wrong with me?" Max asked.

The doctor shrugged, "Well, your socks don't match today."

Max considered getting a second opinion. "You think he's colour blind? You dressed too quickly is the problem." The liver told him, and complained it was squeamish at the thought of further prodding. Max admitted to himself that it probably wasn't a physical disease he had, but shrunk from consulting a shrink. He talked to his rabbi first instead.

Over the years Rabbi Jose had heard many troubles. His own life had not been easy, cursed from the very beginning by a typographical error in his father's bible, but he was not bitter. He still loved the world, but as a child, and didn't trust it out of his sight. Now, he listened sympathetically and didn't tell Max he was crazy, but couldn't help him either.

"Exorcism's impossible. We jews don't believe in demons or possession, I'm afraid. Plus we generally like liver, it's one of the things that sets us apart."

Mr Lipowicz looked downcast. Who could imagine what this man must be suffering?

"You could be a new prophet." Jose suggested, "If g-d can talk through a burning bush then why not through someone's liver?"

"What would that mean for me Rabbi?"

"Bad news probably. The pay's even worse than for teachers and there's no union representation."

"Don't worry," the liver reassured him afterwards, "I'm no omnipotent being. I'm not even eligible to vote." Max decided he couldn't put off seeking professional help any longer.

His analyst nodded wisely when he finished explaining. "This isn't my field." he said, and gave Max a list of specialists and a bill. The first one he tried prescribed Prozac, but Max found this only made the liver high and it kept him awake with its giggling. Regression therapy also failed to make the liver shut up, although it did help Max find the watch he'd been given by his grandfather and many socks. He'd heard that repressing memories was a natural part of how the mind deals with the world, and had always wondered where all his socks went, but it had never occurred to him before to link the two.

By this time, Max had got used to having his liver around. They had grown close in the way that family member's are, because you did not choose them and cannot leave them. He now reasoned that if he was crazy, it was a harmless form of insanity, and fighting it would just result in his being locked up without the level of freedom and cutlery he was accustomed to. Sadly, the liver was now deeply neurotic because Max hadn't believed in it, and needed weekly therapy.

See more of Mr. Winterstein's work at The Morning Fist

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