Tug Life by Jeff Alphin

In Jeff Alphin's delightful comedy, a Fells Point Maryland tug worker with a fondness for practical jokes finds a kindred spirit with whom to conspire.

Rusty couldn't get off the Harriet Moran fast enough. Two weeks of knuckle busting and fried bologna had him hopping the bulwarks and bouncing off the tire fenders onto the gull-shit-splattered docks of Canton like a state-fair rubber frog.

What he called his Papillon moment. Sure, he'd be back on this 92-foot 3005-horsepower Devil's Island, but for the next 14 days he was a free man. Just enough time to blow through his tug money and report back to the boat in paper pants.

Rusty hoisted his duffel and started up Clinton Street, lengthening his stride with every step, no longer one of five turtles sharing a floating shell. He tamped down his big-ass grin at the hangdog faces of the replacement crew shuffling aboard for the next run.

Tug life. Sleeping on a closet shelf, showering in a box, shitting down a pipe. Tater tots by the bag. Towboat coffee. The 24-hour rumble of diesel until you can't remember what quiet is. Chip and paint. Splice and coil. Disassemble. Reassemble.

Six hours standing watch felt like ten; six hours off felt like one. The kind of sleep deprivation they serve at Guantanamo. A flashlight in your face announcing your watch just as the dream mermaids begin to surface.

Hit the pillow. Hit the deck. Back. Jack. Do it again. Until the gangway hit the pier and Rusty became the proverbial sailor in port. Two weeks cooped up, two weeks cut loose, for the last seven years. He had no beef with extremes.

His check was waiting at the dispatch office. Rusty stopped by, then navigated the maze of back alleys to the row house he shared with a professional cheerleader and a cruise line magician. Nobody home.

He shook out his duffel in the tub, turned on the shower, stripped down and grape stomped the diesel out of his boat clothes until the hot water ran out.

A look in the mirror at the haircut he'd given himself atop a rolling sea with kitchen shears was a punchline, his wet mullet so uneven he appeared to be leaning to the left. Rusty liked enough hair to feel a breeze, but not so much that it got in his way. His lifelong nickname had nothing to do with its color (Rusty was a sandy blond), but was bestowed upon him at age five by his mother while washing a hamper-load of skid-marked briefs.

The rest of him was no centerfold either. A purple-yellow bruise spread across his left forearm. Sharp tan lines that made his arms look like they'd been dipped in wood stain. But despite the battering ram that was able seamanship, his leg bone was still connected to the thigh bone, etc. For a 36-year-old slab of chewed-up jerky he was in pretty good shape, still a first-round draft choice for pickup football.

Rusty didn't waste time at sea dreaming about the luxuries of port, and kept his mind in the same spot as his feet. But now, back in Fells Point with the world's oyster shucker bouncing in his callused hand, he found himself hungry for the side dish he missed most aboard the tug.

An appreciative audience.

While there were plenty of deckhands he'd happily share a beer or rewatch Kingpin with, none of them were on this last ride. And if you got on with a bunch of assholes, it made all the difference. Which he had, and it did.

Of all the hardships that came with the job, this was the one that really got to him. Because Rusty was funny, and it was a damn shame to be the only one onboard who knew it.

Part prank, part performance art. Like Ernie Kovacs or Alan Abel, Rusty's humor was hard to define. You had to meet it halfway. And sleep-deprived ass draggers don't take an extra step for anything. On this last run his material played to crickets: Bill Hicks to an Ash Wednesday crowd. It was the quantity and quality of communal yuks (or lack thereof) that drew the line between a good gig and a grind. To chew a shake-and-bake hotdog at 3:00am while banging knees at a kid-sized table in comatose silence was a bummer.

"If you can't laugh at yourself," he would spout to expressionless faces, "you're going to miss out on all the fun everyone else is having."

In Fells Point - the neighborhood that brought you rat fishing, Edith Massey and Johnny Eck-Rusty's body of work set a comic watermark.

With a red bow and some white paint, he transformed the commemorative Conradin Kreutzer bust into the Utz potato chip girl for Pride a few years back. In the middle of the big blizzard, he bolted a hubcap he found in the gutter onto a snow-route signpost and labeled it "Emergency snow gong," tying a sawed-off broom handle to the post as striking mallet. With some 2-for-$1 bags of plastic army men from the box of misfit toys at Hi's Variety, he glued a battalion of soldiers commandeering the tampon machine at Butt's & Betty's, climbing strings into the dispenser opening, scaling the sides and planting a flag on top. On the front he spelled out "Happy International Women's Day" with kid's alphabet refrigerator magnets. He got his hands on a roll of Day-Glo orange "Try Me" stickers from the Save-A-Lot produce department and stuck them on every available surface in Fells, from the stripper poles at the Ritz to the backs of unsuspecting tourists. And one time, a pigeon.

Today, free from the tedium of splicing rope and thumb wrestling locknuts, Rusty felt his inner artist itching to express himself , or as he put it, "The little bird between my ears is starting to flap its wings."

Locking up the row house, he headed out into the sunshine.

Rusty walked down Broadway, passing underneath the gun shop's oversized .45 Smith & Wesson signboard, catching a whiff of Peruvian chicken takeout, nodding to the guys through the open door of Budeke's paint store before pulling to a stop.

The head shop was having a sale on whippits. It was certainly a day for it.

Rusty was a man of simple appetites. Tall boys, dime bags, and other people's leftover Percocets. Nitrous oxide, if not for his ancestry, would have no place in his stable of recreational drugs save the occasional party balloon. The 45-second laughing gas buzz he associated with the back counters of Ocean City T-shirt shops hardly seemed worth the effort.

But Rusty came from huffer stock. Once he learned of his anesthetic-loving forefather, he became charmed with upholding this bad-boy family tradition. Like the kid who chews his dad's brand, pops his knuckles to emulate a favorite uncle, or speeds through the turn because Granpappy ran 'shine, Rusty partook of the "sweet air."

The first time Rusty's great-aunt Birdie showed him the sepia photograph of great-great-great-uncle Horace, he saw W.C. Fields. It wasn't Fields' trademark nose that Uncle Horace possessed. The striking similarity was in the eyes. There was, despite the portrait's formality, the unmistakable twinkle and squint of an inside joke. Horace was putting you on.

"More full of mischief than Houdini's hatband," Birdie declared, returning Uncle Horace to his place on the shelf. Which only made sifting the tall from the tales of his storied life and career that much trickier.

According to the old dentistry journals, clippings, personal correspondence, and scrapbooks in Birdie's steamer trunk, Uncle Horace guinea-pigged himself in the laboratory, one of the first men to undergo the effects of the Clover Gas Ether Inhaler in its experimental stage. Far more difficult to substantiate was family lore that he once pulled his own bicuspid afterhours while higher than a sycamore cricket.

Uncle Horace held bimonthly get-togethers, which he described in his diary as "a professional roundtable assembled for the purpose of procedural discussion in a relaxed setting," or as one of his students referenced in a letter, "his experiments in patient empathy."

No one gave the gatherings much thought until the morning after when a prominent colleague was seen about downtown Baltimore, shoeless and grinning like a loon in the pouring rain.

In an era when accredited practitioners shared the dental profession with untrained ivory snatchers, quacks and charlatans, speculation as to which category Horace fell into had forever tacked a question mark on his legacy.

None of which mattered to Rusty. He was proud to call Doc Horace kin. Over time he took to signing birthday cards and wedding-guest registries as Mr. Gasser.

Checking his wallet, Rusty walked into the head shop.

There was no one on the park's giant slope. Rusty found a Rusty-sized patch of thick grass, checked for dog crap, and splayed out.

In an effort to thwart the wrong kind of attention, he ripped into the bag of multicolored balloons, blowing up and tying off until there was a small bouncy pile in the grass beside him. Hopefully people would think he was just a guy getting ready for a kid's party over in the picnic area, not some vagrant sucking on an inflated happy face and swooning like a deep-sea-diving Bozo the Clown.

Rusty stretched the lip of a yellow balloon around the dispenser and cracked a canister of N2O into it, feeling the cold of escaping gas on his calluses and maintaining a careful grip as the latex found shape.

Pinching off, leaning back and closing his eyes, he inhaled slowly, falling fathom after fathom into the enveloping pressures of the deep. Through the brass crossbars of his imaginary diving helmet, Rusty watched as his enormous red clown shoes touched down on the ocean floor with a sandy poof.

He dove and resurfaced, changing out and clanging tanks like Cousteau's first mate, sucking life through his regulator and rolling back over the side to dive for pearls, explore the cave, wink at the nurse sharks, and laugh at the crabs.

The first lightning bugs had begun to flicker when Rusty returned to the terra firma of Patterson Park with the giddiness of a post-operative organ recipient, waving at an unleashed dog, and muttering "jackpot fellas" to some ducks quacking over an abandoned lunch bag that still had some crackers in it.

Rusty spun on a lopsided axis, unsure if the wobble was due to a broken barstool or his recovering equilibrium.

"Hey Margaret."

Philadelphia soul whispered from mismatched stereo components. Rusty jerked a thumb toward the ceiling and she bumped the volume on her way to the cooler for his usual.

"You're back."

"Ta-da." Rusty tilted the cold beer. "What'd I miss?"

"Same ole. We had a party for Julio."


"We thought so, but somehow we got the wrong month. He said something about 'mayo' and Softshell Ed thought he was talking about the month but he just meant mayonnaise like everybody else. And it didn't help that in Puerto Rico the name Julio also means July. None of which matters because his birthday is not until February. But I'd already made enchiladas, so we had the party anyway."

"Sound like fun."

"Yeah, it was. We had a Hula Hoop contest and then played Chequi Morena in the alley."

"Chequi what?"

"Shake it, Morena."

"I don't know what that is but I hate to have missed it."

Rusty flipped his bottle cap and squinted at the rebus puzzle. The word "May," an eyeball, a 1/2, a big D and little ants. May I have this dance? Too easy.

"Is it June yet?" he asked.

"If it's not it's close."

"You guys do anything for Saint George's Day this year?" Margaret's man was from Bristol.

"We were gonna have a cookout but we got a thing from the fire department says we can't grill in the alley anymore."

"What? You've been grilling there forever."

"Yeah, well apparently there's some ordinance and we're violating it. Threatened to shut us down. Letter said they've received complaints."

"Who in the hell would do that? Newbie move in?"

"Not on this block. Jim thinks it's the new place that just opened where the Scratch 'n' Dent used to be."

"What new place?"

Margaret pointed east. "Across from the copy shop. Pour Ann's. You haven't seen it?"

Rusty turned to look in the direction Margaret was pointing, forgetting there was a wall there. "What's it like?"

"I've never been in. The owner drives a Hummer. Ronnie says they play XM Contemporary and have a lot of plasma screens."


"But he said the burgers were pretty good. But nothing to write home about."

"So they couldn't compete with the smell of Jim's which are from paradise and you give away so they call the fire department?"

It was true. A spatula-wielding Jim would have you salivating five blocks downwind.

Margaret forced a smile and popped a beer of her own. "I'm not accusing anybody, but someone is definitely fucking with us. Last week a guy from the liquor board was in here wanting to see my entertainment license."

Rusty sat up, excited. "You guys start having bands?"

"If you call Bobby Spoons and Mr. Lucky playing harmonica along with the jukebox a 'band', then yes."

"Somebody complained about Lucky and Bobby Spoons?"

"I guess."

Rusty made a face and drank, digesting the news that he might never again enjoy the bar's complimentary grillables while listening to Bobby Spoons clank his silverware along to the Pogues.

"And don't get any ideas Rusty. Richard was already in here talking about collecting cockroaches and setting them free in there. Last thing I need is an escalation. I break the smoking ban every 20 minutes and if anybody complained about dogs in here I'd lose half my customers."

Rusty showed his palms. "Who, me?"

"Yeah. You. The same guy who strung a banner advertising 25-cent drafts and dollar body shots over the door of the Lemko retirement home for Mardi Gras."

"Hey, that was the most exciting Fat Tuesday those assisted livers have had in a long time."

"Whatever. No funny business, yes?"

Rusty silently took the fifth, his gaze gravitating to the dust-crusted oddities behind the bar. Not since his first visit to the Museum of Natural History had a collection of miscellaneous relics fascinated him like this one.

A terrapin skull clamping down on a dried rose; a cross-eyed rubber fruit bat; a lower plate of false teeth; kabuki mask; log cabin constructed of petrified Slim Jims; a Rube Goldberg-inspired scrap-wood martini shaker; a daguerreotype of a South Seas pirate beheading; a birdshot-riddled mallard decoy; a small human ribcage; a Price Is Right name tag.

At some point, the bar had become the depot for bizarre curios. If you came across something odd, you brought it in to Margaret and hoped to make the cut.

"Anything new back there, Margaret?"

Remembering suddenly, Margaret threw her arms up as if topping the first hill of the Cyclone and did a bunny hop down the bar. "Yes!"

From behind a cardboard tray of microwaveable sake bottles she retrieved a ball jar and clunked it onto the bar. Something was pickling in there.

Rusty reared back, gripping the bar rail to prevent toppling backwards. "What the fuck is that?"

Margaret grinned proudly as if she'd won a blue ribbon with it. "One of the pups found it while out with Jim. Behind the dumpster at the Royal Farm. Thank god she had the sense not to eat it. Brought it back here and dropped it at my feet, like a gift. You can see some tooth marks there, just under the head." Margaret was beaming.

Rusty found himself unwilling to touch the jar, and leaned forward for closer inspection. "I'll be goddamned, Margaret. That's a penis."

"We were pretty nervous at first. Jim wasn't crazy about the idea of calling the cops to report possession of a severed penis. We've been attracting enough attention lately as it is. Anyway, it doesn't matter, it's not real."

Rusty raised an eyebrow.

"Frank the Artist has taken up whittling."

Rusty didn't blink, maintaining his expression of WTF?

Margaret pushed the jar closer. "That's a potato."

"Good Lord!"

There were four famous Franks in Fells Point: plain Frank; Dr. Frank, who until the bust passed out pain-reliever scripts like restaurant flyers; Viticus Frank, whose Lithuanian bathtub liqueur was a holiday tradition; and Frank the Artist, who until this moment Rusty had associated with sweater vests and painstakingly accurate needlepoints of historical neighborhood landmarks.

"Susan said he saw some documentary about a woman who made penis plaster casts, went home and picked up a potato." Margaret held the jar at eye level and spun it slowly, like a 42nd Street pawnbroker. "I gotta say, for a guy just starting out, he carves a helluva dick."

Rusty felt an odd tingle, as if there was some kind of crotch voodoo at work. He put his nose to the glass. "He even made the veins the right shade of purple."

Margaret's eye looked three times its actual size as she peered into the jar from the other side. "Susan said he borrowed a tattoo gun from Read Street Ink."

"Hole-lee-shit." Rusty gripped his jaw like a split-finger fastball. "So, he didn't like this one and instead of making mashed potatoes he makes a special trip to the Royal Farm dumpster just to throw it out?"

"He's hoping someone finds one and calls the cops. Been planting his most realistic works in places where a person might normally dispose of a freshly lopped dick. Told Susan that making the East Baltimore Guide crime blotter was on his bucket list."

Rusty could relate, immediately wondering why he hadn't set the goal for himself. There was no more entertaining newspaper police blotter on the planet. Man hit over the head with bottle of hot sauce during an argument with his girlfriend...Wedding ring was reported stolen while its owner danced in a singles bar... The suspect replied, "We will fight you guys cause we are like fresh fish and gravy"... The suspect told police he was on his way to the travel plaza to catch a Greyhound bus to Cameroon... The suspect robbed her of cash and a bag of hair extensions...

The neighborhood weekly read like a Reader's Digest "Sordid Life in These United States." To live within its archives was a brand of immortality.

"Well that's understandable." Randy said with total sincerity.

Margaret tapped her temple. "Frank has some strange magic going on alright. Smiling like Gandhi with a trash bag at neighborhood cleanup one day and pitching a fit the next because the market lunch counter didn't get his eggs right."

Rusty worked up the courage to tap the lid. "Goddamn, that would fool anyone. What's it soaking in, vinegar?"

"Yeah. Jim thought it would be the best way to preserve it. There was no way he was gonna keep it in the fridge. For about five minutes we were stupid enough to wonder where we could get some formaldehyde."

The jester in Rusty's head jangled with the possibilities of this Holy Grail of novelty items. "Can I borrow it?"

"No, Rusty," Margaret returned the jar back to its hiding place. "You most definitely cannot."

Rusty tapped the anchor-shaped door knocker and watched Frank the Artist shuffle to the door through a half circle of mottled glass.

"Hi, Frank. Rusty." Rusty extended his hand to the man who was now blinking up at him from behind large lenses. "From the neighborhood."

Frank removed his glasses and blinked a second time.

Rusty had prepared nothing and like the rest of his day, just kept winging it.

"Um, Frank, I heard from some people that you've been doing some sculpting" - the blinks became a squint - "with potatoes."

Frank's eyes opened naturally for the first time. "Who told you that?"

"Well let's see, Susan for one, when we were having lunch."

"You had lunch with Susan?"

"We meet at the lunch counter in the market sometimes. Great shrimp salad, but man can they fuck up some eggs."

"Yeah? They fucked up your eggs? They fucked up my eggs."

Frank gave a self-satisfied smile and Rusty made his pitch.

"So listen Frank, I heard about these amazing potato sculptures and I was wondering if you'd sell me one."

"You want to buy one? What did Susan tell you exactly?"

"That you had a real gift. I'm sure I can't pay you what it's worth, but I know a genius idea when I hear it."

"You're shitting me."

"I'll give you 20 bucks."

"You're full of it. But now that I get a better look at you I think you're the same guy I saw setting up the Battle of Antietam on the hood of a Volvo, so come on in."

The house was tasteful, cozy and immaculate. Frank pulled back an Oriental rug to reveal the iron ring of a trap door. "Watch your head," he said, disappearing into the nether regions of the rowhouse.

Frank switched on a fluorescent magnifier lamp to reveal a small workbench scattered with an assortment of cutting tools and a peeler. Three adjacent shelves were crammed with jars of detached penises. Dr. Moreau's preserves.

"Wow Frank, you've been busy."

"I've been on a roll. I don't know why I find it so therapeutic. Memories, wish lists, fantasies and some experiments. Like this one." Frank pointed to an oblong orange lump in the bench vise.

"A sweet potato? I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam?"

"I thought I'd get a little more culinary. Something to garnish the pot roast on special occasions. Mix things up a bit."

"That would do it." Rusty mentally presented Frank with a trophy for Creepiest / Most Hilarious / Most Retina-Scarring Room I Have Ever Descended Into. "These are amazing, Frank."

"You're very sweet."

"So, any chance you can part with one?"

"Yeah, I don't know. I've got plans for these guys, but I guess I can let you have a factory irregular."

Frank opened a plastic storage tub and gave a "be my guest" wave.

Rusty took out a jar containing what looked like a stubby mushroom. Any semblance to a vegetable would not suit his purposes. He pulled a second jar, this time a thinner phallus with an unnatural bend, resembling a finger crooked at the top joint. It was as impressive in detail as the ones on display. Imperfectly perfect.

Rusty extended a 20 but Frank pushed it back.

"Oh just take the damn thing. I truly can't believe you've knocked on my door to buy a potato dick."

"I insist Frank," said Rusty, forcing the bill into his hand. "You've made us all very proud."

Later that night Rusty treated himself to a burger that was indeed pretty good, but nothing to write home about, and waited for the kitchen to close, then pretended to confuse its swinging door with the men's room.

The next morning he left for Harpers Ferry with his knapsack, an inner tube, a hammock and a tent. On the way he stopped for supplies and called the health department.

Three days later he returned to Baltimore, took a shower and went to go see Margaret.

"Did I miss anything?"

The East Baltimore Guide was already on the bar. She pushed it forward along with his beer. "If it was you I don't want to know about it."

His spit-take shot a good three feet. The stunt had leapfrogged the crime blotter and made the front page.

Grisly Discovery in Fell's Point Pub.

Margaret went for a rag as Rusty wiped his mouth on his sleeve and read out loud.

The kitchen staff at the newly opened Pour Ann's Taphouse on Aliceanna Street received a shock Saturday when a detached penis was found in one of the bistro's steam pots.

Felix Diaz, 33, told reporters he was preparing for Saturday's shrimp special and was filling a steam pot with water and Old Bay when he saw the dismembered extremity bob to the surface.

After the initial panic, 911 was called by waitress Linda Sharpe, a pre-law sophomore at Towson University. According to police statements, no one at the establishment knew how the penis got there.

An anonymous call to the Health Department later that afternoon alleged that the penis was severely infected with syphilis, which could explain its detachment according to Web MD.

Laugh water filled Rusty's eyes.

Health inspectors have suspended Pour Ann's food license indefinitely. Proprietor Anne Albright seemed confident Pour Ann's would reopen in time for the Maritime Festival this weekend, stating, "We will be serving our delicious American fare at reasonable prices as usual."

Health Department Spokesperson Jill Bayer described Ms. Albright's claim as "unrealistically optimistic."

Rusty let the paper drop with the kind of insincere empathy six-year-olds use after beating you in Connect Four. "That's some unfortunate timing, if they miss the festival crowds. Especially when they're just starting up and all."

Margaret draped the rag over the sink faucet and began restocking the straw bins. "What I can't believe is that somebody didn't cut into it before going to press."

"Well, I'm sure it's hard for an editor to resist this kind of headline. These are tough times for good old newsprint and something like this really gets the old circulation going. They haven't had this kind of scoop since that guy was sodomized with a pack of frozen hotdogs. And, if I'm not mistaken, the Guide goes to press on Saturday afternoon, so they really didn't have a lot of time to confirm it. I wonder if ole Frank did that on purpose."

Margaret slapped down a stack of coasters with a whap. "Oh please. I'm not asking any questions, but please don't try and pin this on Frank."

"Hey, you never know. Once a guy starts whittling dicks, no telling what he might do. And who's to say it's not a real one this time? This is Fells Point."

Margaret's eyes crinkled in a smile.

"What is real either way is the PR damage," he continued. "Takes a long time to recover from a story like this. People are still calling the Colonial Tavern 'The Crapper' ever since Jerky Mike took a dump in one of the pool table pockets, and that was over ten years ago."

Although there was no one else in the bar, Margaret kept up the charade. "Well, whatever happened, I guess Frank got his wish."

"I'll say. The man wanted to see his dick in print, and by God he did it."

Margaret gave Rusty one of her sweeter smiles, grabbed a bucket and headed for the ice machine at the back of the bar. "Your beer's on me by the way."

Rusty saluted with his bottle and finished up the article.

Police have no leads at this time and a forensic investigation is underway. If you have any information please call 1-800-IREPORT.

He folded the paper carefully, now a historical keepsake. "I don't suppose you've got any leads?"

"Me?" Margaret called back between ice scoops. "I just woke up."

Rusty walked along the water on Boston Street toward the Sip & Bite in search of a BLT and a good bench to sit and call his mom. She'd get a kick out of this one.

On the stoop of an abandoned house he spotted an East Baltimore Guide bagged in plastic and scooped it up, on the off-chance Frank hadn't seen it yet. He'd drop it off on his doorstep after lunch.

Turning down a narrow passageway of deteriorating brick and cobblestone, he came to the botanical explosion known as the Flower Alley, scanning the urban garden oasis for a glimpse of its mystery caretaker, a seldom-seen Fells Pointer often referred to as the Floral Boo Radley.

For years he'd been considered the neighborhood's greenest thumb, until he was spotted attaching artificial roses to the bushes he didn't consider full enough. The fakes were better than most, perfectly matched color and expert placement. It was hard to tell them from the real deal without a good sniff.

Humming Mac Davis's "Stop and Smell the Roses," Rusty did just that. For one fleeting second he fantasized that they might squirt him.

Body part found in Canton parking lot believed cut from embalmed body
January 20, 2001 BY A SUN STAFF WRITER
A severed human penis found in Southeast Baltimore on Thursday afternoon came from an embalmed body, officials said yesterday.
The body part was found in the parking lot of a convenience store in the 2300 block of Boston St. in Canton about 4pm, police said.
The embalming chemicals found in the penis were consistent with those used in funeral homes, authorities said.
Dr. Stephen Radentz, a state medical examiner, said he could not determine when the penis was removed from the body of an adult white male. But he said it looked like somebody "simply cut it off."
There also did not appear to be "any elements of expertise" in the removal, he said.
Police officials said yesterday that they had no clues. "If funeral homes or another organization that deals with cadavers contacts us and informs us that they have a cadaver missing this particular piece of anatomy, we will investigate at this point," said Agent Martin Bartness, a police spokesman.
Two women spotted the penis in the parking lot of the Canton Market, officials said, and told a store clerk, who called police.
If police find a suspect, they might not be able to charge him or her, experts said.
Harvey Morrell, a researcher at the University of Baltimore law school library, said he could find no criminal law dealing with the mutilation of a body in a funeral home.
"There's no real Maryland law on point," Morrell said, though he added: "I'm sure that if police wanted to, they could figure out something to charge them with."
Morrell said the dead man's family could sue the mutilator.
And if someone stole the body part for profit or took it from a burial site, authorities could charge him or her with a misdemeanor.


  1. Well, this certainly gives a whole new meaning to "Mr. Potato." Good descriptions and definitely an off beat sense of humor.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words and taking the time Jim. Next time you're in Fells Point the oysters are on me.

  2. i don´t think there´s anything i can add to Jim´s comment

    but a really good Story

    Michael McCarthy

  3. So glad you got a kick out of it. Thank you reader.

  4. Well written and full of surprises! Rusty is likeable and believable - but I wouldn't like to have someone like him around me too much - life would become too complicated!