Cod Liver Oil is a funny scary story about a young boy whose parents have a very disgusting business, stealing pet dogs and turning them into oil. It is based on an old horror story by Ambrose Bierce called “Oil of Dog”. If you’re a pet-lover, don’t take this tall tale too seriously. No dogs were harmed in the making of this story.
My name is Bingo Boiling and my story is a sad one. My parents were humble, hard-working folk. My dad owned a little workshop where he manufactured cod liver oil. My mother and I helped out in the business. Mom ran a small shop in the village where she sold our wares to the happy customers. My job was a little more difficult and a little less glamorous.
You see, most people think that cod liver oil is made from fish. I suppose you could manufacture it that way, but it would be quite expensive. My father’s recipe was much cheaper and more cost-effective. You see, his secret ingredient was dogs. Our brand of oil required lots and lots of dogs. Fat ones, skinny ones, big ones, small ones, it didn’t matter. Collies, terriers, huskies, malamutes, it didn’t make a difference. They all boiled down to the same thing in the end.
That’s where I came in. My job was to find the dogs he used to boil in his huge vats. This was a dangerous job and required craftiness and quick wits. If the police ever found out about our little industry, we would find ourselves in a heap of trouble. If the public ever found out about it, they might stop buying our cod liver oil and that would be a disaster.
Dog owners tend to be a clever bunch. They always regarded me with suspicion, because whenever I was around, a dog was sure to go missing. As time went by, it became more and more difficult to outwit them. I broke into houses at night to kidnap dogs, climbed over fences to abduct puppies from back yards, snipped leashes with a pair of scissors and even snatched dogs when their owners were not looking. As time went by, some people began to suspect what I was up to and many of the owners had forbidden me to play with their dogs, which I found deeply insulting.
Looking back upon those days, I have quite a few regrets. It was quite unfortunate that I ended up accidentally causing the death of my beloved parents. I can’t help but think that the poor decisions I made back then wound up having a very negative effect on my future.
One evening, I was very pleased with myself because I had managed to kidnap one of the fattest dogs in the village and wring its neck. As I was carrying the corpse back to my father’s workshop, hidden under a heavy coat, I happened to notice that someone was paying way too much attention to a young boy like me. It was a policeman and he seemed to be following me. In our line of business, being followed by a policeman is never a good sign, so I avoided him by dodging into the workshop and locking the door behind me.
My father had already retired to his bed for the night, so I was all alone. The place was dimly lit by the fire burning in the furnace and I could hear the soft bubbling of the vats as the dead dogs were cooking overnight. I gazed into the murky depths of the boiling oil and, occasionally, a piece of dog would rise and float to the surface. It was lovely to watch.
I waited for a while, then peered out the window, but the policeman was still there. Then, to my utter disppointment, he walked right up and began knocking on the door. I would have liked to hide and pretend there was nobody home, but he had already seen me duck inside, so I had no choice. I had to let him in.
When I opened the door, the policeman pushed past me and made straight for the vats. He was very impolite. As he peered into the bubbling oil, I knew it was only a matter of time before he saw the bits of dog ears, tails, legs and skulls churning around in the sludge. I had to do something. My parents had a nice little business that brought in a lot of money for us. It would be a crying shame if anything had spoiled it.
Quick as a flash, I rushed at the policeman. He was too busy looking into the vat to see me coming. With a gentle shove, I knocked him off balance and he tumbled into the vat with a splash.
Of course there were some screams and cries, as he was boiled alive, but soon that all died down and he stopped making such a fuss. Before I knew it, he was stewing nicely alone with the assorted dog parts. I gave the mixture a little stir before I went to bed.
I contemplated telling my father about the unwelcome visitor, but I didn’t bother. I thought it best not to upset him and anyway, he would never notice a few stray human bones among those of the dogs.
A few days later, to my surprise, my father rubbed his hands with glee and informed me that the latest batch of cod liver oil was the best-tasting oil that he had ever managed to produce. My mother said that the customers were raving about it and demanding more. My father had no idea what had caused such an improvement in the quality of the oil. It gave me a strange sense of satisfaction.
It seemed as if my father was taking a bit too much credit for the improvement, so I felt like it was my duty to explain that I had added a secret ingredient. Instead of being angry, my parents patted me on the back and congratulated me for my initiative. Mom and Dad were so nice to me that it’s a shame they came to such a terrible end!
Business was booming and my mother was selling double the amount of oil she had been before. She was able to hire some assistants to take care of the shop, which left her free to work on the procurement end of the business. She went out onto the streets in the evenings, gathering groups of children and leading them back to my father’s workshop with promises of candy, chocolate and cakes. She even managed to entice some adults to go with her. All of them went into the vats.
My father, was so pleased with the superior quality of oil they produced, that he spent hours just stirring the pots and gazing lovingly into the murky gruel. To him, a pair of eyeballs or a severed hand floating to the surface was oddly beautiful in its way. Converting our friends and neighbors into cod liver oil became much more than a job to them. It was a passion and it gradually began to overwhelm them. The more money they made, the greedier they became.
So many people were going missing that the townsfolk held a public meeting to discuss the mysterious disappearances. A lot of folks blamed the police for not adequately protecting them. Others voiced their fears that there was a serial killer on the loose and nobody was safe. My poor parents attended the meeting and were a little disappointed by the uproar their business was causing.
As we left, my father whispered to me that he was glad nobody knew about our new secret ingredient because, if they ever got wind of it, there would be no telling what they would do. My mother said that it looked as if the police were going to be much more vigilant and we wouldn’t be able to kidnap as many people as we had before. It all made me feel quite nervous so, that night, I decided it might be wise to sleep outside in the barn, rather than inside the house with my parents.
Shortly after midnight, I heard a mysterious commotion coming from inside our house. When I peered through a window, I saw my father carrying my mother over his shoulder. He was trying to toss her into the vats of oil. She was kicking her legs and pounding his back with her fists. She managed to break free and, before I knew it, she was picking him up and trying to shove him into the bubbling pots. It became a furious tussle. Around and around the room they struggled. My father was cursing up a storm and my mother was using quite a few swear words herself. At one moment, he was trying to strangle her with his bare hands and at another, she was trying to plunge a knife into his heart. Watching all this from the window, I was a bit upset. No child likes to see their parents arguing.
I don’t know how long their little dispute lasted, but eventually, my father grabbed my mother and, holding her tightly in his arms, he jumped into the boiling vat of oil. They both disappeared below the surface and when they emerged, they were making the most awful racket. As the flesh was boiling off their bones, my parents couldn’t help screeching at the top of their lungs. I almost felt like going inside and telling them to pipe down in case the neighbors heard, but soon enough, they shut up all by themselves and the night was silent once more.
After that, I was forced to close down the workshop. I sold the remaining oil around town, charging double of course, because it was the last batch and there would never be another. Lack of supply always leads to increased demand. Ever since then, I’ve been finding it very difficult to make a living. I have tried all sorts of jobs, but none of them proved to be as profitable or as enjoyable as manufacturing cod liver oil.
And that, my dear friends, is the sad story of how my family went out of business.