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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Morphology-Based Phylogeny

So folks-- it's been a while since I delved into ficlet and fan fiction land. I'm not even sure I have enough for an ENTIRE ficlet about Dex and Kane--but I have just enough time before I fall asleep to give it a try.

This was initially inspired by a meme about morphology-based phylogeny.  I swear, somebody in my FB group posted it, and I showed it to Kim Fielding who said it should be made into a ficlet.

And I live to serve.

*  *  *

Dex watched as Kane squinted at his homework over the kitchen table.

"Unca Kane has a headache," Frances announced. She put down her crayon to pat his hand and then resumed coloring. The deal had been she could do her work with her Uncle Kane while Dex made dinner--but she had to be very quiet.

Kane muttered, "Uncle Kane is looking at some damned weird words. Hey, Dexter--come over here and read this for me."

He didn't ask often, so Dex left the chicken he was simmering for dinner, washed his hands and came around the table.

"Morphology," Dex said.

"Yeah--I know that one. It means body type, right? We learned the root words. So, physical thing. Does it have hair, does it have skin-- that stuff."

Dex smiled at him, damned proud. "Yeah. Good. So you know that one. Do you know the other one?"

"Phylogeny-- that's like phylum. Like type. Like classification and stuff."

"So..." Dex waited for him to put it together.

"No--I get it," Kane said. "I just don't get it."

Frances squinted at him. "Get what?"

"Well, it's classifying stuff. Like, you know, are we all mammals. But it's based on the body things."

Dex nodded, not sure where he was going with this.  "Yeah..."

"But that's confusing. It's like... like, saying if it has hair, it's gotta be a mammal. But Frances has stuffed animals that have hair, and they're just stuffed animals."

Oh. "It's gotta be alive, silly!" Frances laughed gaily, and Kane grimaced.

He obviously wasn't done with this idea yet.

"Okay then--what about hairless cats. They're mammals, but they don't have hair, right?"

"Well that's not all true." Dex had visited the vet part of Tommy's Pet Smart a few times, trying to figure out if he and John could own part of that franchise. It didn't seem to make sense, but he knew a lot of his guys would be happier leaving porn if there was a job dealing with animals that they could get somehow.  "I've petted a hairless cat before--they actually have hair, but super short hair. It's like bristles on a pig, but his skin is softer."

Frances had a "bullshit" line between her brown eyes that activated when she was skeptical about how the world worked. "Kitties have pig skin?"

"No," Dex said, wondering how to explain this better. "Pigs have tough skin, and this kitty has a soft skin, but pigs have short hairs that bristle when you rub them backwards and hairless cats have short hairs that bristle when you rub them back."

The bullshit line got deeper. "When why are they called hairless kitties? Why aren't they called bristly kitties?"

"I do not know that," Dex told her, "and my chicken needs tending."

"Do chickens have bristles?" Frances asked, pretty much harrying him on his way to the kitchen.

"No--well, yeah. Their feathers are like bristles close to the skin."

"Do we eat those?" Frances asked, and Dex foresaw a future in which no chicken was served in their household for many many years. They'd have to resort to tofu, and Kane would rebel and leave him with all the animals and Dex's life would be over.

"We do not eat the feathers," Dex said carefully. "There are no chicken bristles in the food." Oh please don't let her ask where the meat comes from. Please don't let her ask where the meat comes from.

"But do we eat the chickens that bach-bach and lay eggs?"  Frances asked suspiciously. Kane suddenly shot upright, looking panicked. Oh yeah--it occurred to him too that if Frances decided she didn't want to eat the nice birds, with or without feathers, they were in for some long damned meals in the future.

Dex felt time telescoping down to a small dark bubble, where plucked chickens danced to taunt him and people brushed their hair with hairless cats. "Yes, bunny. Those are the chickens we eat."

"Oh." Frances nodded and went back to her coloring.  But Kane couldn't leave it alone.

"Oh? That's all you got, bunny? Oh?"

Frances looked at him, bullshit line appearing between her eyes. "Well, they're the special kind of chickens, right? The ones born without heads and feathers? So they must be for us to eat."

"Uh..."  Kane looked at him, panicked.

"Yeah," Dex said, lying his ass off to an innocent child. "Those are the special kind of chickens. We don't eat the other kind."

"Cause those are like people," Frances said.

"Sure," Kane told her, sounding stunned.

"Like coconuts. They have hair too."

Kane let out a little moan and laid his head in his arms. "I get it now," he mumbled. "Dexter, make it stop."

Dex distracted her by telling her to go wash her hands and clean up her color crayons and books.  She ran off to do just that, and Kane let out a sigh of relief.

"Oh my God, Dexter!"

"I know!" Dex hissed, turning the chicken one more time. "One false word and we're eating tofu for the rest of our lives!"

"I know, right!" Kane scrubbed his face with his hands. "I'll tell you one thing--knowing all those long words might be part of being smart, but making a category for things that depends on just a couple of body parts is hella stupid."

"Morphology based phylogeny," Dex said in wonder. "I mean, you never know what's going to cook your chicken, but you don't think it's going to be that."



3 comments:

Janie Friedman said...

Heeeeee!

Sandra Graves-priesnitz said...

OMG Amy, laughing so hard I'm weeping.

K. Tuttle said...

So awesome! Especially that not-quite-a-pun thing at the end!