Portrait of Henry III, by Hans Holbein the Younger; Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David; Napoleon in his Study by Jacques-Louis David
“Hello, and welcome to the inauguration of The Royal Kidney Company of the Indian Ocean,” a raspy voice boomed through the speakers. I’d like to speak a little bit about the history of my company to help you all understand why it is the great corporate entity that it is today. In June of 1996, exactly 13 years ago today, an acquaintance of mine brought the existence of the preserved kidney of Henry VIII to my attention. It was being held in Japan, still rose red as ever. And no, he didn’t have syphilis,” the voice chuckled. “But maybe the Japanese just don’t consider that an STD these days.”
While catching his breath he began to lean on the sculpted fountain built specially for the occasion, a horse and rider, fashioned after Napoleon, frozen in time as they cross the finish line. The water flows from a hole in the jockey’s left side and cycles back through the pumps forever, just like the rain cycle of life. He cleared his throat and continued,
“I discovered that there was a whole network of above-ground kidney collectors that I never knew existed and through the years I’ve come to acquire not only scientific knowledge about the modernization of mummification, but also the science of aura, the aura of mystery, sometimes blue, sometimes, obviously, green, that surrounds them. Some are healthy, such as Henry’s, or Enrique, for all you Latinos, who, as you can see in this painting, clutches longingly to his kidney. Napoleon’s left kidney was not so healthy, and he was forced to hold it in place for all his days, yet it is a perfect addition to any corporeal collection. Other famous kidneys we have are those of Erasmus, Anne of Cleaves–Henry wanted to preserve their kidneys together forever–Harold Bloom, well, we have one–we’re waiting until he dies to get the other one–Catherine de Medici, Carl Jung, Goethe, Margaret Mead, and, though the authenticity cannot be determined, John Kenneth Galbraith. Believe me, ladies and gentlemen, I pray every night that they are his holy organs. I dread the thought they could be tucked away in a cemetery somewhere.
The most valuable kidney we have for sale, however, is that of Marat, a famous Jacobin during the French Revolution. While bathing on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, smoking a cigar and writing a pamphlet on how to be a dashing leftist leader, or something, his girlfriend entered in his bathroom suite and cut out his kidney. However, death was not her goal. You see, the French had very little understanding of biology. She really wanted to create a fountain of youth, of urine, the body’s only clean excrement, as you see me leaning on here. It would have been a slap in the face to the Bourbons!
I believe she would be pleased to know that her wish is finally being realized. By me! Today! Right now!”
He cut the ribbon to the gateway of paradise, and a throng of thousands began pushing and shoving to go bid on the magnificient collection of the organs of beautiful starlets to cultivated nobility. Indeed, it was a day unlike no other.