by Amandeep Jutla
The boy said, “What’s the latest?”
She put down the magazine and glared at him. “Are you old enough to be in here?”
The boy handed her an ident. She looked at it. License number. Great seal of the state of Califexico. Date of birth exactly eighteen years ago today. Photo featuring a grin identical to the one the boy wore now: smug, coprophagous.
She tossed the ident onto the counter. “Getting yourself a birthday present, huh? How much you looking to spend?”
“I’ve got sixty-five hundred.”
She nodded. More than she’d expected. All right, the kid was serious. “We got three overnight. Follow me.”
She led him to the arrivals warehouse, where she swiped her card. The door swung back. The inner lights flickered to life.
The first case was small. She opened it and grunted.
“Hair,” she said. She pulled it out, handed it to the boy. A thick red braid. “No roots. Slashed too far up. I’d say about two hundred.”
“I’ll pass,” the boy said.
“One down, then. Two to go. Oh. What have we here?.” She took out the foot. Stiff. Broken at the bone. Coagulated blood. Toenails long, splintered by mold.
The boy’s eyes widened. “Kick ass.”
“Taken at three fifty-one this morning. About as fresh as it gets. No preservative yet. Twelve hundred, easy.” She tossed the foot at the boy, who caught it with both hands and hugged it to his chest.
She opened the last case, and was silent for several seconds.
“Now this,” she whispered, “this . . . is quality.”