Kidney Donor

I found my kidney on the kitchen counter. There was also a note. “Jen, I don’t want your fucking kidney,” it read. It was from Lindsey, my on-and-off-again girlfriend who swore far too much.

I immediately picked up the phone and called her. “Take my damn kidney, you stupid moron,” I said. “You need it.”

“No, I don’t. I don’t need it. I don’t want anything from you,” she said.

“I went through a lot to get you this fucking kidney. The least you could do is take it.”

She hung up.

Fuck her. I’m sick of her drama. I’m sick of the constant back and forth: can I have a kidney, no I don’t want it, actually, can I have it, etc. (I never—hardly ever—swore before I’d met her, by the way. Now I do it constantly. Sorry. I’m going to work on that. I feel really bad about it. I feel like I should go back and change all of the swearing here so everyone isn’t offended. I’m not a delinquent or anti-social or anything like that. It’s just that some people maybe have too much of an influence on a person’s life.)

I went to Target. I wanted to buy a cooler and some ice so I could store my kidney, and then I’d have them put it back inside me. I was sick as hell, and could barely push my cart around. I might have been wearing my bathrobe and my bunny slippers, but I can’t remember.

When I got home, I put the ice in the cooler and wrote “KIDNEY” on the side of the cooler with a Sharpie marker. But I screwed up because of all of the pain pills and crap they pumped into me and wrote “KINEY,” so I had to cross it out and write it over. I wouldn’t have to do any of this if Lindsey wasn’t such a freak.

I put the kidney in the cooler and packed ice around it.

I called up my doctor. I actually got through. He must have picked up the phone by mistake. “Hey, can you put my kidney back in? My girlfriend doesn’t want it.” I sat down because I was so tired.

“Sure, no problem. We do that all the time.”

“Seriously?” I said.

“No, what are you, an idiot?” My doctor had a terrible bedside manner. “What are you talking about?”

“My girlfriend didn’t want my kidney, and I have it. Can you put it back in me?”


“What should I do with it?”

“Flush it down the toilet or shove it in the garbage disposal. I don’t know.”

“You don’t believe me. You don’t think I have it.”

“No, I don’t. You can’t just get a hold of a kidney even if it’s your own.”

“Why can’t you put it back in?”

“It’s been outside of you for too long… among other things.”

“Ah. So it’s ruined? I bought some ice and a cooler from Target,” I said.

“Good for you. Be sure you come in next week. Call Pam to get an appointment. I’ve got to go,” he said. “Hey, hold on, who’s your girlfriend?”

“Lindsey Iverson.”

“Let me call you back.” He hung up.

What a shitty doctor.

The phone rang. It was Lindsey. “Can I have that kidney?”

“Sure,” I said. “I put it in a cooler and ice I bought at Target.”

“Who gives a shit?” she said. “Who the fuck cares that you bought a cooler and ice at Target?”

“Fuck you,” I said.

“Forget it. I’ll probably get AIDS from your fucking kidney.”

“Fuck. Come on, you need it,” I said. What a fucking pain in the ass. What is wrong with this bitch? “Just take it.”

“I’m coming over for some pain pills,” she said. “I feel like shit.”

“No fucking way. I just got out of the hospital,” I said. “How’d you get a hold of my kidney anyway? Did you blow the whole hospital?”

“Yeah, I sucked off the whole hospital, and they had to pump my stomach. That’s disgusting. Fuck you, asshole. You are such a bitch.” She slammed down the receiver.

It was times like this that I found it amazing that Lindsey was a bank teller. This foul-mouthed woman was one of their best tellers. I was sure one day she’d be the bank president or whatever.

It took me a few weeks to accept it. I would hear her swearing, and then I’d suddenly remember she’s an adult with an adult job. They even wanted to send her to grad school to study finance.

I actually had to spy on her at First Independent to see if she really worked there. She stood behind the counter wearing her conservative business suit and smiling at customers. I shivered; it was like a parallel universe.

It’s hard to spy on someone who works at a bank because everyone thinks you’re casing it. I was afraid they’d arrest the suspicious woman hanging around the bank. I finally went inside and stood in line. She saw me, waved, and smiled. She looked so wholesome and normal I had to look away.

“You’re such a corporate tool.” I said when I got up to her position.

Her expression immediately changed. Now she looked angry. She leaned forward to get closer to me. “I want you to get the fuck out of here,” she whispered. Then she smiled like I was opening a new account. “Have a nice day, ma’am,” she said and waved.

I waved back.

Around two in the morning there was a knock then banging on my door. I looked through the peephole. It was Lindsey. “Stop looking at me and let me in,” she said.

I opened the door.

“I want that kidney,” she said. “Where is it?” She saw the cooler sitting on the floor by the wall. “Is this it?”

“Yep,” I said.

She pointed at the lettering on the side. “Problems?”

“Yeah, thanks to you.”

“No,” she said and shook her head. She opened the cooler and took my kidney out. Then she dropped it and almost stepped on it.

“What the fuck are you doing?” I said.

She picked it up and tried to brush the lint and cat hair off of it. “If I don’t get this, I’m going to die,” she said. “I don’t want to die.”

“Duh,” I said.

“Shut up, bitch,” she said.

She was starting to really piss me off. Starting? No, I was already totally pissed off. I was sick of the way she treated me. I tried to grab my kidney back from her. “You’re not having my kidney,” I said. We struggled over my kidney for a while. She was squeezing it pretty tight, but I managed to pry her fingers off. But I was getting really weak from all of this bullshit.

It looked like the kidney was totally screwed up. Part of it was torn away. “Look at what you did!” I demoed the mangled kidney for her: I held it together, and then I pulled the fucked-up part away. I did it several times so she could see how she had messed it up.

I felt totally pissed. I didn’t think she was going to live much longer, and now she was such a moron that she ruined this kidney. What is wrong with her? She was a train wreck.

And then she started laughing.

“What are you laughing at?” I said. I didn’t realize how crazy she was. This was it. She had completely lost it, and I’d have to arrange everything. I’d have to put her somewhere or talk to people about where to put her. I got worked up. I really felt like I was going to cry.

“You’re such a fucking moron,” she said. “This isn’t your kidney. I bought it at the meat market. Your kidney is inside me.” She lifted her T-shirt and showed me an ugly scar. “How much medication did they give you? You crack me up.”

I coughed because I couldn’t talk. My throat felt closed off. Finally, I said, “You fucking bitch. I’m glad I’m so entertaining.” I pinched her.

“Ow!” She knocked my hand away and rubbed the spot I pinched. “That really hurt,” she said with a British accent. “Jen pinched me, and it really, really hurt.”

I chucked the kidney at her. It bounced off her head. I started laughing so hard I thought I was going to choke.

“Fucker,” she said.

“That’s a nasty scar,” I said. “Now your body is as ugly as your personality. You’re never going to get married now. (Only in selected states.) No one will have you.” We always added “only in selected states” in a low, quick voice like it was some sort of limited offer on TV. It was a little thing we did.

“Shut the fuck up.” She sat back down. “You’re going to marry me. And I’m going to make your life fun and exciting. And stop saying that ‘only in selected states.’ It’s fucking annoying.”

I started to wonder if the whole bank teller thing wasn’t some way of robbing the bank (“exciting”). The other part (“fun”) would probably come in when she spent the money. But I didn’t want to think about that. I erased it from my brain. With Lindsey, I got good at erasing.

We sat for a while on the floor next to the kitchen. I was exhausted from the struggling, and she didn’t look too good. “Why?” I said.

“Why what?”

“Why do I hang around with you?” I said. “Why did you do it? Why are you such a bitch?”

“First, I’m shitloads of fun. Second, because you have high entertainment value. Third, I’m not a bitch.” I loved when she enumerated.

“You’re a nut job, and you swear too much.”

“Maybe so, but you picked me.”

“No, I didn’t. You started stalking me, and I felt sorry for you,” I said.

“You’re the idiot who volunteered your kidney. ‘Oh, Lindsey, please don’t die!’ ” She laughed. “Now that I have your kidney, I feel like a total pussy, just like you.” She laughed again. “I hope I don’t cry,” she said. “It’s like shooting fish in a barrel with you.”

I leaned my head back against the wall and closed my eyes. I am so screwed, I thought. And I was also glad and really happy, but that was so dumb I didn’t want to think about it.

My doctor called back and told me they already put the kidney inside Lindsey. Thanks, but a little too late.

“Like shooting fish in a barrel,” Lindsey said.

[October 2008]

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