Phage Match

By Mitchell Toews

Static…squelch…more tuning…

“Welcome thrombosis, cirrhosis and seizure fans from across the country and in our ships at sea! Tonight we’re pleased to bring you what promises to be a thrilling cage match as the four top contenders for MDD vie for playoff positions.

Mitchell Toews, a fiction writer, lives at Jessica Lake, Manitoba in the windy intermingling between the top of the water and the bottom of the sky. A former “marcom guy” on the West Coast, he now spends his time in short stories and, weather permitting, short pants. There’s lots of stuff (too much) here too: and

“I’m Dan Murray and joining me, fresh from rehab in the Mile High City – no pun intended – is our expert colour commentator, Arlo!”

“Thanks, man. Hey, is that water? Can I get some? Fuckin’ dry in here, or what?”

“Great to have you with us tonight, A-man! So tell us, of tonight’s four competitors, who do you think will come out on top?”

“How the fuck am I supposed to know, man. Jeez, where’s the water at?”

“Well, Arlo, I think I might take a stab at answering my own question and tonight here in narco-fueled LA, I can’t see any of the smart money going against the reigning champ, Papaver Somniferum, or “Big Poppy” as he is known in his hometown of Kabul, where he began his career.”

“Whatever, asshat…”

“Okay, Arlo, if you don’t object, I’m going to have our crew mark Big Poppy as our broadcast favourite to take the title for Most Dangerous Drug! This would be Poppy’s third consecutive victory of the coveted MDD trophy; the “Copper Coffin” — his ninth overall.

“Filling out the field for tonight’s big contest are three intoxicants who all have a legitimate shot at winning. First: Strychnos Aux-Vomica, whose fast acting effects are well known in the rodent kingdom but who, with the right conditions, can knock down a 200-pound human in minutes.”

“Next up, Arlo, is a player that really needs no introduction – Digitalis Purpurea. Those elegant pink flowers and textured, dark green leaves are well known and respected. Your thoughts?”

Arlo coughs. His head rests on the desk, a cigarette burning between his fingers. 

“I see, I see – keeping your options open; cards close to the chest. Okay, fans, that just leaves our last competitor, an old school, heavy hitter who will long be remembered for contributing rows and rows of gravestones from San Fran to Frankfurt… none other than Atropa Belladonna! Good-night-Irene!”

“THAT is one FILTHY mother-”

“Arlo! Thanks for that. I see you have had a little accident in the downstairs plumbing area so we’ll go to commercial to let you clean up.” (Arlo gives Dan Murray the finger as he pushes himself backwards in his rolling chair and recedes out of the two-shot, off camera right.)

“As Arlo mentioned to me earlier, the deadly nightshade, good old Belladonna, could just pull off an upset here.”

“But the big news is probably coming out of the new rogue league: synthetic opioids! These powerful rookies have simply trounced classic franchises like Morphine and Alcohol. Watch for them as they ramp up their numbers and claim victims, like a-ringing bell…” Cue Johnny B. Goode background music.

“Say folks, we’re going to pause for a quick message from our sponsors; the CIA; Nathan’s Naloxone – get it at Wal-Mart – the world’s largest drug retailer; Bad Hombres of America and, of course, Bayer. But before we do, let us remind you to please dig deep when representatives for the new players’ organization — Harmful Unregulated Pharmaceutical Ingredients (HUPI) rings your doorbell looking to sell you some counterfeit shit. They are just starting up and could really use your support! Donate on the street or use their convenient online access feature on eBay!”

Cut to commercial.