In part one, I wrote about a dangerous, international haggis smuggling ring back in 1997. The next year, Lisa and I were traveling, and a friend in DC where we were staying found a butcher who carried haggis. But it was not a good haggis. No “lights” and too Liver-y. My only comfort came in remembering Mrs. Wilson, as I secreted the haggis into my checked luggage for the flight home…
We were becoming connoisseurs of haggis, my friends and I, and we resolved not to use the DC butcher again. Year 3 of this heroic quest, this odyssey (though no one died), we were traveling again, this time to Philly, visiting my in-laws. My father-in-law suggested I try D’Angelo’s specialty butcher in the 9th Street Italian Market (D’Angelo’s is now, sadly, defunct).
I said to my father-in-law: “Elmer, please—Italian butcher, Scottish delicacy. No.”
I called all over Philly, but with no luck. My father-in-law suggested D’Angelo’s again. Having no other recourse, and to prove to him that I was right, I called them:
“D’Angelo’s!!!” a woman shouted rather than answered.
“Yes, hello,” I began, “I was wondering if…”
“Whaddya want, hun! I got customers here.”
“Yes, well, I’m looking for haggis. I don’t expect—“
“Hang on!” She slammed the phone down on a metal table.
I could hear her stomping toward the back, heard her shouting indistinctly at people (or was that merely the way she spoke?); heard the door of a walk-in cooler open. It was blissfully silent for a moment, until she came out of the walk-in and tromped back to the phone:
“I got one left. You want it?”
“You have one?”
“Yeah. You want it or not? We’re closing in forty-five minutes.”
“Yes,” I said. “Thank you. I’ll be right there.”
La macellaia (Madame Butcher) was nicer, if no less voluble, in person. And I couldn’t help but reflect on the dulcet tones of Mrs. Wilson. It was much better than the previous year’s haggis from DC, and I carried it back to Seattle in my luggage.
Next up – haggis gourmands, and did I unwittingly assist anti-government forces?
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James McCrone is the author of the Imogen Trager political suspense-thrillers Faithless Elector, Dark Network , and Emergency Powers–noir tales about a stolen presidency, a conspiracy, and a nation on edge. All books are available on BookShop.org, IndyBound.org, Barnes & Noble, your local bookshop, and Amazon. eBooks are available in multiple formats including Apple, Kobo, Nook and Kindle.
His next book, Bastard Verdict (out 18-May-2023), is a noir political thriller set in Scotland. His current, work-in-progress is a mystery-thriller set in Oregon’s wine country…A (pinot) Noir, called Witness Tree.
A Seattle native (mostly), James now lives in South Philadelphia with his wife and three children. He’s a member of the The Mystery Writers of America, Int’l Assoc. of Crime Writers, Int’l Thriller Writers, Philadelphia Dramatists Center and is the vice-president of the Delaware Valley chapter of the Sisters in Crime network. James has an MFA from the University of Washington in Seattle.
For a full list of appearances and readings, make sure to check out his Events/About page, sign up for the mailing list. And follow this blog!
His most recent short fiction is below. The first is available for online reading.
“Eight O’Clock Sharp” in Retreats from Oblivion: the Journal of NoirCon. (free online)
Set in Philadelphia’s 9th Street Market, Thomas is a man outside of time, forgotten, but trying to do the right thing while contending with avaricious forces.
“Ultimatum Games” in Rock and Hard Place magazine issue #7
A rare book heist, bad decisions. The narrator and his partner-in-crime clash over evolving bourgeois norms.
“Nostalgia” in Low Down Dirty Vote, vol. 3
An armed group tries to resurrect a past that never was as they struggle with change.