Monday, September 20, 2010


Tim walked over to the counter and placed the two steaks in front of the butcher.

“These are terrible,” he stammered. “I want a complete refund plus compensation for my transportation costs.”

The butcher looked down at the young man and shook his head.

“You’re not from around here, are you?” he sternly asked.

“What makes you think that?”

“Because you showed up.”

“I showed up?”

“Yeah, you showed up.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Tim stood there with his hands on his hips and an eyebrow arched at quite a severe angle.

“You mean to tell me you’re not gonna give me my money back?”

“Hell no,” laughed the butcher, his heavy gut jiggling behind the counter. “You think you can tell me that my steaks are shit? Who in their right mind would have the audacity to do that?”


“Well, sorry kid, it ain’t gonna work that way today – and probably not tomorrow either.”

Tim, now mouth wide open, was speechless.

“Listen sonny, I’ve been working at this spot for 35 years. No one – and I mean no one – has ever come up to me and demanded a refund for my chops - as well as a compensation for transportation costs. So let me recommend one goddamn thing - if that’s the last thing I offer you in my butcher shop: Go the fuck home. And while you’re at it? Tell all of your friends, family members and anyone else you hold dear to you to stop coming also. You know why? I don’t need your attitude, your bullshit reasons and especially none of this Tina Turner diva-shit attitude you have to offer. So once you digest all that, regurgitate it back up, then spit it back on my counter, I’ll give you a damn refund. But until then, do as you’re told and go-the-fuck-home.”

By then Tim’s eyes had rolled from their sockets and spilled on to his rosy red cheeks. His left leg slowly creeped backwards, followed by his right, as he retreated back towards the door. The butcher continued to stare straight into his soul, eating at it whilst pouring salt into the open wounds of his beaten core. Purged of his haughty attitude, Tim had been taken back to his childhood agonies – kicked on the playground, sand shoved down his throat and across his eyes. Memories of Greg flushed their way into his head, flowing down into his legs, which now wobbled with each weak step backwards. And still, the butcher stared. As the two steaks sat on the counter, the flesh seemed to melt like the sweat that dribbled down the back of Tim’s neck. Inches away from the door, he reached back to find the horizontal handle; cold to touch and even farther away than home, at least it seemed so in this moment. His fingers aimlessly quivered for the handle, which was four inches above where his arm extended. Still, the butcher stared.

“Up boy, up,” he directed from behind the counter. “Up.”

Tim’s head barely nodded up and down, still shaking with the fear that had plagued him since his time at the playground.

“Y-y-yeah. U-u-up,” he faltered, slowly turning to face the door. “U-u-up.”

His eyes turned to face the door, arms pushing forward and legs moving at a speed that once kept him from being tackled on the playground. He didn’t look back as he sprinted out the store, now in a full stride, his arms pumping by his side. His eyes fixated on his car, ten-too-many spots away, sitting in-between two other hunks of metal and rubber. His stride broke as he tried with both hands to reach into his pocket, his legs still moving but now in an uneven and off-balance hobble, limp and weak, like a beaten form of prey floundering to get away. For some reason, at this most inopportune moment, the keys had wrapped themselves in the fabric of his pocket, caught on some small fold of utter annoyance.

“F-f-f-uck!!! Come on!!”


Tim’s head hit the pavement first, cracking his skull and scraping the skin off his scalp. Next his left forearm, torn all the way up to his bicep, which was luckily covered by his shirt. As his torso hit the ground, his hip seemed to snap below, while his legs bent at the knee, causing the skin to rip even whilst underneath his jeans.

The car hadn’t seen him as it turned quickly into the parking lot. Its driver just sat there, eyes wide open, spilling out onto their cheeks. The blood gushed from their heart, beating four times as fast as Tim’s was just a few seconds ago. Motionless, at least in this moment, the driver just stared straight ahead at Tim’s limp body, now soaking in a puddle of warm blood.

Still coherent, Tim’s eyelids struggled to open to see where he lay. He could taste the salinity of his blood on the enamel of his teeth, thick and viscid, almost like cherry pie on a fine summer day. Thoughts of his recent life, instead of Greg on the playground or his disgust at taking the steaks out back at home rushed back to him. Fuck. Why am I here? Why does it hurt so much? Somebody? A-ny-body?

The butcher had already gone back to the carcass in the rear of the store when it happened. He was having a bit of a struggle with the hangar steak cuts; the grain seemed to go against what his knife wanted to do.

These steaks are terrible,” he muttered to himself. “What a thing to say, what a thing to say.”

His arm flinched as the knife’s blade finally cut through that annoying tendon.

“What a god-damn thing to say.”

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