Scan backwards, scan forwards. Red light on. And flicker. Picture the scene. Picture this scene. Indulge me. So. Cold hard marble table. Fuck [comma here at reader’s discretion] my freezing battery chicken freshly plucked flesh. You know. I mean, no. I mean. You know? Yes, I know now. Now. But didn’t then. Anyway. Any way? Yes, absolutely any way. Anyway that you want me and anyway I can get it. She laid me on the cold hard marble table under the cold hard marbled light. Right? And she inspected me. Well and truly inspected me. I felt truly inspected. It was a ritual, a grooming ritual of sorts. I was the baby monkey, she was the mommy monkey divining for fleas, dividing with glee. Got one. Got another, you filthy boy. Filthy boy. Inspect me. I didn’t really call her mommy. Inspect me, then we can swing through trees until it’s time for tea and bananas and jungle book stories. So she inspected me. A thorough, intimate inspection. I kept staring at the cold hard marbled light as I lay on the cold hard marble table and felt as cold and as hard as the marble stuck in my throat. In my throat. It’s a good trick, I can cough up marbles on a whim. Did I say she inspected me? I did? I will say it again, for you. She inspected me. She dissected me. Scientifically. Either fourth year biology or graduate anatomy or second time around agriculture student who really wants to be a poet and a literate waif, so she can purge and purge and prise her soul up from the inside out. Instead, she dissected. She held each piece up to the cold hard marbled light, secured by her delicate tweezers. Look at that, she cried. You wouldn’t believe it, she cried. We are so alike, she cried. Her cries echoed in the cellar, after dark, against the inside of my skull. Except. I couldn’t respond. I was having my liver dissected at that moment. It hurt. Not enough rubber in my enfeebled constitution. I don’t drink enough alcohol, I winced. You should drink more alcohol, she helpfully responded. Non-medically speaking, she added. Please be careful, I winced harder. Big baby, she giggled, sticking her seldom seen yet much photographed tongue out at me. And now, she said. And now? I was still wincing. And now. I have been thoroughly dissected, I cried to the ceiling. Pulled apart. I can stitch you back together, she offered. And she did. Like she was darning children’s socks for so many sweet and innocents. And then, then and now, she rejected me. Marked and dashed on a clipboard in a tick-box frenzy. Interestingness. Tick. Depth. Tick. Skin condition. Tick. Soul condition. Tick. Musical nostalgia fixation. Tick. Inability to speak with marble stuck in throat. Tick. I’m done, she said. All done and dusted, she said. Look up, she said. I looked up. Cold hard marbled light over my head. Cold hard marble table underneath, stuck to my back. Look up, she cried. I was tired of her crying, but still transfixed. Look up, she screamed. Look the fuck up and don’t blink. I didn’t blink. She stamped me on the forehead. Serial number MW-160782: FAIL. More figures after. Longest serial number. Impenetrable logic. A stream of letters and numbers and code and hidden meaning. She smiled now. And then. Smiled. Inspection over, she soothed and petted. Inspection over. Dissection done. Rejection pending further approval. Keep in dark. In dark and kept dark. Mismatched barcode. This barcode not recognised. Barcode contains illegal characters. Commence realignment. Realign. And realign. Scan backwards, scan forwards. Scan back, scan forth. Scan. And again. Reject.