Last Day at Osso Bucco Magazine



by Jason Peck

Ask Amanda why she hadn’t quit yet, and she’d point to Charles Goodnight. Or rather, the Excellence in Reporting Award that bore his name, that she’d won two years ago for an expose on impure bloodlines in the Dakota Hereford breed. Earned in tandem with other people, of course – Josh had done most of the writing, Elliott had uncovered the initial tips, and Ron the Cowboy used his industry connections to break the story open. Amanda had answered emails and catalogued their notes – she’d held everything together. So what if the inscription had her name last?

The award was hers – a statue of the legendary cattleman in polished bronze, ten inches high, Charles Goodnight standing mid-swagger in his handsome cowboy way, leashing two bulls on either side like guard dogs ready to sick on an unsuspecting country. Goodnight, who took a beef-skeptic America and turned it to the planet’s first carnivorous nation. A meat evangelist, on a mission to spread the word.

Like her mission. Her award. Hers.

“It’s like a Pulitzer Prize, except for reporting on cow meat,” Josh said when he caught her staring at the award. “More like a… moo-litzer?” Since the layoffs commenced, the magazine’s star reporter had resigned himself to answering phones and smoking pot at his desk. Josh was daring them to fire him, the Goodnight star.

“You’re keeping your job, and you don’t even care,” Amanda said. “That’s what makes me upset. Why are you here?”

“I don’t want to be,” Josh said. “I wanted to work for the Washington Post. I had a scholarship. I interned with a spotlight team that did win a Pulitzer. I should be reporting live from war zones. But they started laying people off and the only place that hires me is a meat magazine. Go figure.”

“I wanted to work for this meat magazine. And then they everyone off except for the two of us.” She thought for a moment. “And Skip,” she added, suddenly remembering their editor.

To this, Josh said nothing. Amanda turned her attention back to the article she’d been writing. From down the hall, she could hear Skip on the phone with the corporate heads, begging for another job in the company. Any magazine would do. How about the editorship of Single Origin Only? Or Probiotic Advocate? Maybe Enzymes and Edibles? When he thought Amanda was out of earshot he’d cross the line into treachery – steakbean, he’d say. What about a magazine of our own dedicated to steakbean? Josh was silent, save for the sound of his lighter. Any day could be her last, but Amanda had promised herself she’d work until the end regardless.

“They lay me off, and I’ll get unemployment,” Josh said. He puffed and looked up at the ceiling with satisfaction. “I will be awesome at unemployment.”


Osso bucco – the magazine took its name from a connoisseur’s cut of meat and flaunted it. Unlike the clichéd porterhouse or the pretentious filet mignon, osso bucco was a true cross-section of the beast, a shank of meat and fat and bone. And marrow, the real delicacy. Stab the marrow where it protrudes like a charred, white pinkie finger, and remove it at once. Ask for osso bucco, and the waiter raises an eyebrow. Ah, one of those people.

“Are you aware of what our name means?” Skip had asked Amanda when she first interviewed.

She had raised an eyebrow and scoffed. Please. Her father had kept copies in the waiting room of his butcher shop, like a dentist laying out the Newsweek.

Standards back then were high, everyone but her was award-winning. Raymond led a team of photographers. Elliott had covered the cooking of beef and guest-starred on Food Network; Sam addressed butchering and authored definitive guides on the subject. Ron the Cowboy from Wyoming had written of animal husbandry and farming. If it moos, the magazine said, we cover it. Even Josh, an unprecedented hire out of college, had doggedly followed cutting-edge cattle research in those more motivated days. With no journalism degree, Amanda entered as an intern three years ago and considered herself lucky.

Other magazines like Top Round and Beef were the People Magazine of the beef world, trifling content and the first to fold as tastes changed. The dedicated and true would stick with Osso Bucco. The future was bright, so long as nothing big happened.

And so of course something big did happen. A month into Amanda’s internship, Ron caught wind of major breakthroughs in the development of the steakbean, a modified kidney bean with fibers tough as a taut muscle, its pulp loaded with so much natural hemoglobin that the fields turned bloody. Mashed and processed, a steakbean patty could easily pass for a steak. Ground beef was no challenge at all.

“Finally, A True Meat Substitute?” read at least one New York newspaper that Amanda had grown to despise.

“The Dark Truth About Steakbean,” Osso Bucco’s cover had read in return. But the newsroom was clearly shaken.

Anyone could plant steakbean in their backyards. Different strains adjusted the proteins for a perfect cut each time. But raising cattle took effort, resources. Ron had written that South America’s beef industry would collapse first in is final column. After that, the rest would follow – once the economies of scale were lost, the price would rise, and soon they’d learn how much America actually genuinely beef.

Amanda liked Ron least of all her coworkers – his black Stetson hat looked stupid in a Pittsburgh office, and his exaggerated western accent often slipped. And that was before the Daily Steakbean, a YouTube channel Ron created upon leaving for New Haven, the burgeoning steakbean capital of America.

What kind of cattleman would abandon the life? But therein lay the appeal of Steakbean – if a guy who lassoed Texas Longhorns was switching to plant-based, then what excuse did anyone else have?

And months later, Ron’s predictions about Osso Bucco proved depressingly correct. Magazine sales and page views started their steep declines; the staff exodus began with going-away parties that lost their novelty. Elliott’s farewell had tenderloin steaks disguised as cupcakes with mashed potato icing. Raymond’s had been celebrated with a barbecue that Amanda had missed to meet a deadline. Should she get canned as well, Josh had assured her that he’d prepare a cow-themed cake in her honor, colored like a black and white Holstein with Moo-ving Along written on the top in pink icing.

Moo-ving along. Fucking Josh.

Amanda emailed her completed article to Skip in the office next door for proofreading. Anymore, he rarely edited her content, but she felt the chain of command needed respect regardless.

A smell suddenly filled the air beside her, umani enzymes slathered on like brown sauce. Josh had brought lunch. She’d worked through the morning already. From the smell she could recognize the meal – vegan keema and spiced rice, portabella and cauliflower roast, and – most offensive to Amanda – fake beef, its fibers 3D-printed from organically-harvested steakbean. Nothing he brought ever contained meat, even before the company’s downward spiral.

“Steakbeans,” Amanda said, to no one in particular. People were still allowed real meat, of course. But no one seemed interested.

“Yeah, the McDonald’s downtown switched to bean-based yesterday,” Josh said atonally. Osso Bucco Magazine had always condemned McDonald’s as bastard-beef, sub-par product that offended true carnivores. But by now any holdout was appreciated. “Everyone’s going plant-based,” Josh added. “The…steaks have been raised.” He never cracked a smile when making one of his puns. Easily his most annoying trait, Amanda thought. Even he found himself unfunny.

“Newsflash,” Amanda said in the tones of a radio announcer. “This just in. Another block’s come down with a case of vegan.”

“You talk about it like a disease,” Josh replied. “Have you ever tried steakbean?”

Yes, she had, in fact. She’d stabbed the faux meat in its container and inspected the grains with her tongue and spit it out. Chew slowly enough, and an unnatural earthiness should come through. Early steakbean fibers would dissolve in the mouth and betray their bean origin. Amanda had written articles on how to tell the difference – “True Beef or Imposter Meat – Don’t Be Fooled!” But science marched on. The formula had been tweaked. She wished her mouth could know for sure, but lately she had doubts.

“I’m going to the kitchen,” she announced to Josh. “My last lunch is thawing in the fridge.” Her voice nearly echoed across the empty newsroom. Josh raised his head from whatever game he’d been playing on his phone to follow her.

The microwave and stove in the office kitchen were seldom used, even before the layoffs. The refrigerator often held only the leftovers Amanda and Josh couldn’t finish. But the freezer had always been full. When Osso Bucco was thriving, the butchers and meatpackers had sent their wares in hopes of a good review – grass-fed from an artisanal butcher in Tennessee, dry-aged New Jersey steaks aged to the four-month max, flank cuts from a Silicon Valley startup that tenderized the inedible bits in a vacuum bag that pummeled the tissues with a thousand micro-blows. Nearly every departing employee had taken the best stuff as they left. But Amanda usually passed on the popular cuts anyway.

She pulled a Ziplock bag from the fridge and pressed her finger to it. The meat still needed time to thaw. Blood had congealed at the bottom, and walnut-shaped grooves were visible through the plastic.

“Is that beef…tongue?” Josh asked after some hesitation.

“It’s beef brains.” Amanda drew the last word out. Her gaze held his, daring him.

“Well,” Josh said, his voice level.

“No more steakbean. I need the real thing.”

“The real thing would be a steak.”

“These brains came from a real cow,” Amanda cracked open the Ziploc seal. “Therefore, they too are real.”

Josh’s face flickered with disgust, no matter how hard he tried staying stone-faced. At a beef-centered magazine, only he had such issues with flesh. Grossing Josh out had been a popular pastime when the staff was full, made possible in no small part by Amanda’s talent with the odd parts of the cow. Before a laughing newsroom, she’d guilted him toward eating tripe, then kidneys fried in olive oil and onion, then testicles slow roasted in a cooker she carried on the bus to work.

In those days, he hadn’t backed down from eating, for reasons she couldn’t decipher. Curiosity? Masculinity? She believed everything was for Josh’s own good.

Once she told him of the time her father had returned from his shop with a skinned cow’s head. He’d called Amanda and her older sister to the kitchen and set it down on the counter so that its eyeless sockets stared back to where they were sitting. The head grinned, its skull ribboned with dark tissue, and her father said nothing, just waited for a response. From a distance, he had still smelled of fat and blood and sweat from the butcher shop he ran on the ground floor of the Murray home. His eyes were still bright, his grip on the knife still strong, his shakes still years away.

This is where we begin, her father had said. Not with the “good” bits of meat, the flank, the chuck, the ribeye. Begin with the bits that prove this meal was once alive. Know that something sacred occurs in this transfer from its life to yours. Know this act is more than merely “eating.”

That message had cleanly, clearly flown over Josh’s head, no matter how much Amanda wanted the lightbulb to click. It seemed to fly over everyone else’s head in fact, despite the columns she’d written and memories she’d shared.

“You have a problem with brains?” Amanda said to Josh. It wasn’t a question. When Josh looked away, she continued. “My dad made brains for breakfast. He scrambled them with eggs.”

“Talk about cholesterol,” Josh muttered.

“My sister wouldn’t eat them. Will you?”

Josh crossed his arms and stared back impassively. The thin line of his mouth slowly contorted to a grimace. Amanda and he were nearly the same age, but before the shutdown began, Josh had always seemed something other, composed and efficient in ways she could never manage. He’d been established early, marked for greater things. A good reporter, so good that he’d made her angry. Someone with such talent had to understand meat on the same level.

“Answer me,” she said. “You like brains?”

“Brains?” Josh paused and his face lost color. He took a breath to steady himself. Then another. “Yes, I have a…beef with brains.”

Invisible forces were slowly stripping the office bare; moving men showed at odd hours for everything they could take. Their parent company had claimed all the furniture and computers and hardware worth selling; former employees had grabbed the award plaques that once covered the walls, and this emptiness filled the office with the stale-attic scent of dust and exposed wood.  Someone else was stealing coffee and toilet paper. Suspicion fell on Skip, but the magazine had bigger problems.

Of course, Osso Bucco could still be saved. But those assurances came from the same corporate heads who were losing the money – any Of course always seemed suspect. Amanda knew it. Staying open would mean reversals of fortune, a change in direction. More advertisers. Osso Bucco Magazine had lost nearly all of those. Assignments still arrived through the same channels, but inspiration was hard to come by.

“How about this for an idea?” Amanda said. The clocks on the wall had vanished sometime yesterday. “We turn this from a magazine to more of an online community. That means promotions, contests. We’ll be the one magazine that wouldn’t sell out to fake meat.”

Josh lit his joint, Skip side-eyed him in disapproval. “That would take advertisers,” Josh said. “Probably money too? Just as long as I’m thinking out loud.”

“The point isn’t to sell a magazine,” Amanda said. “The point is to show that beef is still worth it.”

“Yeah,” Josh said. He took a puff and coughed. “That would definitely require money.”

Skip’s face fell. His face was always falling; in the last few months Amanda had wondered when his face would hit bottom. Since breaking the news of her imminent termination, he’d taken pains to avoid confrontation, perhaps suspicious that Amanda’s calm front was a prelude to her fiery meltdown.

“Amanda,” he said, and for a moment, she thought his voice was filled with genuine concern. “Amanda, do you know what you’ll do next?”

“I’ll keep working.” She kept her voice as level as she could.

“You know…I did offer you a job at another magazine,” Skip said. “The company has dozens of openings. I could pull strings.”

“A magazine is a magazine,” Josh said.

“No it isn’t, Josh,” Amanda snapped.

Skip ignored their exchange and turned to Amanda. “I’ve known people like you,” he said.


“People who wouldn’t realize it was over. People who needed a new path.” He sighed. “If I were you, I’d find another line of work. This industry just doesn’t have a future.”

“The industry should try harder,” Amanda said.

“We are part of that industry,” Josh said. “So what are we doing?” His fork stabbed a steakbean brick from his takeout box. Every meeting, it felt like he was rubbing everything in. What is Amanda doing to save us? his tone asked. Does she have any bright ideas?

Amanda knew she had nothing. No plan to save her job, no comprehension of this irreversible decline. Just a gut feeling that people might act differently if perhaps, they understood. “So when is my last day?” she asked.

“So long as we’re being honest. When will you get the call to let me go?”

“This week,” Skip said. “Probably Friday. But you can quit now if you want to. The company understands. You’ll get unemployment anyway.”

Silence followed. The wood frame of the building creaked as it adjusted itself. The AC sputtered and stopped. “I’ll be at my desk until you kick me out,” Amanda said. She straightened in her chair. “Some people would quit early.” That last barb was intended for Josh, but of course he hadn’t been listening.

Friday was three days away. From her desk, she could have sworn Charles Goodnight was frowning at her.


What would Charles Goodnight do? Her father had been a Goodnight-style believer. Someone who could most certainly make people care. Make them understand. His life was a tradition, and to her, a tradition was something that never died, not really. He was the only neighborhood butcher long after everyone had abandoned such craftsmen for supermarkets. Yet people chose him becausehe was old-fashioned, because his resilience held some nobility everyone could feel in their guts. The meat industry was sick. Factories were sick, animals caged in claustrophobic pens, the antibiotics and drugs and hormones – all of it, sick. But he took those concerns and mended them somehow, cured them and made everything whole.

And people came for the spectacle. The carcasses fell to pieces with his slightest incisions. Without knives he could still break bones on the table with mere pressure and gravity. Ancient skills – remembered and lost and remembered again. Other butchers stabbed themselves, died underneath sides of beef that slipped from the meat hooks. Until his illness, her father never suffered so much as a nick.

And there was still that moment, she always recalled, when she was nine, with her father and the skinned head of a cow.

Gross¸ her sister said, and quietly left the room. Unfazed, Amanda’s father turned his attention to her.

This is where we begin, her father had said. He brought the head closer to Amanda as he spoke, and held it at arm’s length for her to touch. Peel back the animal’s skin, he said. Read its life through its blood. Pinch the walls of the heart and feel its biography. Respect that life. Waste nothing.

It’s not just food, is it? Amanda never said these words at the time. But she had felt them. 

“Show me how to cook this,” Amanda she had said instead. Her father nodded in appreciation. She had answered correctly – not with a question, but an assumption that something could be eaten, with respect maintained. Her father pulled his boning knife from the drawer and scraped one side of the skull and peeled off the meat and dropped the shavings in his daughter’s hands.

“Beef cheeks,” he said. “The cheeks come first. This time.” He handed her the knife. “Now you,” he said. “Like I showed you.”

She held the knife as he’d done – tight like someone would steal it, her thumb along the top a guiding arrow. Something had changed, some mindset that brought her closer to her father’s purpose. The feeling remained as she tenderly approached the side that his hands hadn’t worked, as her knife slid through the chalk-white fat, and even afterward the feeling remained – much to her father’s surprise – when the blade slipped and nearly severed Amanda’s thumb.


Amanda’s final news article came courtesy of a press release from Hokkaido. The last Japanese Longhorn had been born, and the farm was holding a retirement party for the calf, a ceremony before the prefecture divested from beef production for good. News about the birth had come with photos and a subtitled video. The governor of Hokkaido dressed in full business attire, stood ankle deep in manure and held the knobby-kneed calf in his arms like an especially large puppy. So sad the beef business is dying, the release said, but demand has vanished.Shikata ga nai. It can’t be helped.

The calf would live out its life in an animal sanctuary, but to Amanda that seemed especially cruel. Farm animals were bred for the table, not the wild. Exposed to nature, what survival advantage could come from a marbled flank? Far more humane, in her mind, that the celebrations end with a serving of veal.

The article didn’t take her long. She’d filled in the gaps with Japanese history and parallels to the shrinking American market. She’d concocted a story of it, ritually added another country to the list of beef producers that had called it quits – by now a grim accounting of the fallen. Then onto Something Offal, the weekly column dedicated to whole-animal eating that she’d created for herself now that Skip no longer cared. But mostly, she just wished for something different. For anything other than the imminent end of her career.

Today is my last day at Osso Bucco Magazine, her last column would read, formerly America’s most influential magazine dedicated to beef. Nearly complete, the piece had been written sentence by sentence in her rare free time while she had more or less assumed control of the magazine’s content.

Completing the column had always felt like resigning herself to failure; in stressful times, refusing to finish almost felt like resistance. But how could she resist these changes? The column would serve as her last chance to say what she’d always wanted to. And yet she still couldn’t finish it.

“Japan just gave up?” Josh asked. “It’s an…udder-catastrophe.”

“It’s not the end of beef,” Amanda said. “Some people will always stick around.”

“Oh, it’s the end,” Josh rubbed his chin. “A total cow-pocalypse.”

“Could you possibly piss me off any more?” Amanda said, her voice level.

“I know just the YouTube channel for that,” Josh said, and in instants she heard the banjo theme song of Ron the Cowboy’s steakbean channel coming through Josh’s computer.

“How do we know it’s better than beef?” Ron’s voice chimed in. “They control the tannins, pardner. Nothin’ but juicy perfection every time.”


But the final article of her career did come that day, and ironically it came from much closer to home. An email from Wholey’s Market in the commercial district downtown, mere blocks from the Osso Bucco office. In the busy days, it was where she’d bought the spare parts she’d used for cooking; their lead butcher bought the cows whole, and appreciated Amanda for buying what no one else would eat.

“It says ‘surprise new meat product,’” Amanda narrowed her brow. She showed the email printout to Skip, who politely feigned interest. “But they haven’t had any new meat in months. They started phasing everything out when steakbean got popular.”

“It’s a mystery,” Skip said. He kept his eyes on the phone, no doubt waiting for a call from the top brass.

“Might be good material for my last column,” Amanda leaned in like a conspirator. “I think I’ve got the ending.”

“Sure,” Skip’s smile was forced. 

The public market was a quick hop on the bus; upon arriving, she blinked her eyes as though seeing sunlight again.Osso Bucco had become her world these last few months; her only human contacts were Josh and Skip, her only environment was air conditioned and sterile. Outside, the world became real. Food trucks still sold shish kebabs and cheesesteaks and sandwiches full of roast vegetables and something that blackened and smelled like beef. Lines still lingered outside the cafes and candy shops, the bar & grilles. The air tasted heavy with smoke and flavor. And there it was – the market where she could finish her last article.

Her feet hit the damp concrete floor inside. She passed by the rows of rice and vegetables and legumes, spices and produce. Cellophane packages glowed white under the overhead lights. Everything seemed well in order since she’d last been here, like a long exile ended.

Yet something felt off. She sensed it as she walked past the refrigerated aisles to the beef section, where the in-house butcher worked. Not quite as professional as her father, but the shop had always hired the kind of journeymen he treated with polite respect. At first glance the displays were still stocked with the usual imitation meats – top sirloins stacked like bricks, short ribs cut clean and neat, ribeye roasts and tenderloins and briskets. Thick roasts, the spotted-fat beef flank, the bone-in cuts like the porterhouse, the strip, the T-bone. But something else. From the visible shape of the grain, the unmistakable signs of processed steakbean. This time, for everything on the menu.

“What is this cut?” Amanda’s voice barely carried. 

This also had changed. The woman behind the counter wore a butcher’s apron, but it was spotless and white. Amanda knew she’d seen this woman here before, manning the produce and confections.

“They call that one osso bucco,” the woman said. She mispronounced the last word like buck-o. “The latest thing. It’s got the bone and the marrow in it – they figured out how to make the bean taste like that too.”

At last, the bean had achieved perfect emulation. Amanda took a breath. 

“I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Amanda Murray, and I write for Osso Bucco Magazine. There’s a column I’m trying to finish. Is your butcher in?”

“I know about you,” the woman smiled a little. “But you missed the butcher. Perry quit three weeks ago.”

“I’m trying to write a column,” Amanda said. “My dad was a butcher, and the job meant a lot to him.”


“I thought I’d talk to your butcher, and ask what inspires him to keep working.”

“Well, I’m betting nothing inspires him, seeing as he quit,” the woman said with a nervous laugh that Amanda didn’t return. She looked over Amanda’s shoulder. A line was forming behind her. “All the cuts come in shrink-wrapped. No one here trims anything.”

“But it’s not real.”

The woman rolled her eyes. “Look at this,” she said, and pointed to the porterhouse. “It’s my favorite. They pressurize the bean paste so it tastes like you’re eating off the bone. Grab a brochure. I’ll let you have a rib. On the house.”

“I don’t want a rib.”

“One rib for free,” the woman said, and winked. “Between you and me.”

Amanda closed her eyes. Maybe this is how her column could end – she’d make a scene. The rage had always been simmering – now she’d rise and demand that the world provide more than just a cheap copy, and she’d ask who else would stand with her. The crowd behind her would grudgingly nod yes, then clamor for change. They’d raise hell, side with the carnivores, and in the midst of the commotion, maybe someone would articulate in the ways she couldn’t.

“I’ll take the next in line,” the woman said before Amanda could do anything. The man behind Amanda stepped in front of her.

“Meat makes us human,” her father would say to the visitors who came in – the aficionados, the regulars, the truth seekers and skeptics. His eyes would take on a dreamy quality while his hands, independent of him, sliced away.

“Hunting took knowledge,” he’d continue. He’d give the listener pauses that he himself didn’t need. “We needed hunters and trackers and cooks. And butchers. We started traveling in packs because we couldn’t do it alone. We began speaking because we needed cooperation.” He’d snap a leg off the carcass, give the listener time to comprehend. “The moment we found meat,” he’d say, “is the moment we found each other.”

That speech had converted a vegetarian who left with a pair of sirloins wrapped in paper. Her father was a physician who would cure everyone. But never with words. Always with his feeling, a sincerity that Amanda’s writing could never convey.

Her hand slowly crumpled the pages of her reporter’s notebook. The woman was already looking past her to the next customer.


So in the end, Amanda called it quits after all when she returned from the market. Skip accepted her resignation with surprise, but mostly relief. He didn’t ask why she’d gone back on the promise that she’d made only a few hours earlier. She supposed something in her eyes advised him against asking. She wouldn’t need any going away present. The parting words had been said long before. “An honor,” he whispered, but she had already moved onto cleaning out her desk. By arrangement, Amanda could take the Goodnight. But she wasn’t sure if she wanted it any longer.

“The brain is almost ready,” Amanda said to Josh. “I picked up some taco seasoning for them.”

“I already ate lunch,” Josh said. “I’m stuffed.”

“Too bad,” she replied, and that ended the discussion.

In the kitchen, she emptied the Ziplock into her hand, and then washed the brains under the tap and placed them on the empty bag as a cutting board. The meat was pearl-colored, gelatinous under Amanda’s knife, and Josh leaned over her shoulder to inspect it further.

“Street vendors make tacos out of brains,” she said, her tone defiant. “I also got you some taco shells.”

“You couldn’t buy soft shell?”

“It’s OK if you can’t handle brains,” Amanda said. “I don’t judge. I mean, seriously.”

“What are you doing next?” Josh asked. “You never answered.”

Amanda looked away. She cracked open the spice packet and poured the mixture into the eyeballs. The pan sizzled and spit and filled the room with the scent of cayenne. Heat gently tickled the back of her nostrils.

“Did you ever eat normal food?” Josh asked.

I did, she wanted to say. Of course I did.She’d eaten every muscle and sinew, then worked her way down to the bones and made food of those too. Her father made stews and soups, he’d grilled, shredded, marinated. Beef tartare, liver and onions, pot roasts, ribs…her father studied meat and learned its secrets. But anyone could buy those cuts.

“Tell me why I’m eating brains again,’” Josh demanded.

Because there’s a lesson to learn here, Amanda thought, some moment of awakening to occur. Something she wanted to share. In her mind the cattle skull was on the kitchen shelf again, and her father was still alive, his accidents hadn’t yet started and his knife never faltered, and he was showing her something that changed her forever. The cheeks come first, he said. But what came last? She scooped the brains onto the plate for Josh to eat. She could no longer remember.

About the Author