Worth a read: Lipidleggin’

2 08 2011

I’ve stumbled on this short story by F. Paul Wilson twice in as many months, so I figure it’s as good a sign as any that I should share it. It’s a gritty bit of hardboiled anti-detective fiction set in modern day New York City a dystopian future where food is tightly regulated by literal Food Police—an unthinkably distant prospect in 1978, when the story was published. Of course, these days…

An excerpt:

The new guy puts his hat on the counter and glances around. He looks uneasy. I know what’s coming but I’m not going to help him out. There’s a little dance we’ve got to do first.

“I need to buy a few things,” he says. His voice has a little tremor in it and close up like this I figure he’s in his mid-twenties.

“Well, this is a general store,” I reply, getting real busy wiping down the counter, “and we’ve got all sorts of things. What’re you interested in? Antiques? Hardware? Food?”

“I’m not looking for the usual stock.”

(The music begins to play)

I look at him with my best puzzled expression. “Just what is it you’re after, friend?”

“Butter and eggs.”

“Nothing unusual about that. Got a whole cabinet full of both behind you there.”

(We’re on our way to the dance floor)

“I’m not looking for that. I didn’t come all the way out here to buy the same shit I can get in the city. I want the real thing.”

“You want the real thing, eh?” I say, meeting his eyes square for the first time. “You know damn well real butter and real eggs are illegal. I could go to jail for carrying that kind of stuff.”

Hilarious. Or it would be, if “lipidlegger” wasn’t becoming an increasingly plausible career choice (it’s already a reality if you happen to like unpasteurized milk, that potent modern day hooch). You’ll want to laugh at the story, if only to ward off the cold chills running down your spine.

If there’s one upside to every law, ban, regulation, and tax imposed, the more asinine the better–it’s that they breed discontent. The more ridiculously intrusive the dictates of the state become, and the more they decrease our quality of life, the easier it becomes to lose respect for the authority of the law in general. Only our so-called leaders could take life’s simplest pleasures and turn them into brave–and delicious–acts of defiance.

I'll have some rebellion sunny side-up with a side of bacon, please

 

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