The moment old lady Ambrose bent over to look in my basement window, I hit her in the back of the head with a hammer. I rolled her body up in a rug and took her to my place of business. My lovely machines would put an end to her venomous comments.
All of this began because of her scruffy little mutt. He thought my property was his own personal latrine. He barked at me incessantly, following along the fence line as I worked in my backyard during my days off. He dug under or nibbled through the fence several times a week to leave excrement on my back porch or in my garden. He was one of those small white dogs with the cute faces, button noses, and round eyes, a Westie, I think. Don’t let those sad eyes fool you. The dog was a constant anguish to my peace of mind, a little demon that intentionally tormented me. Mrs. Ambrose never corrected the dog’s behavior, never once told him to stop barking. I made a habit of scooping up the mutt’s fecal waste and tossing the offensive matter back over the fence. Let the widow Ambrose deal with the foul smell.
Last week the dog went missing. Now there’s no more barking, no more shitting on my lawn. The widow Ambrose had the nerve to come into my store and scream at me during business hours, in front of my customers.
“I know you did something to my dog, Glenn Meacham” she hollered, “You’re not going to get away with it. I’m going to the police.”
She stormed out of the store, slammed the door, and marched away. I shrugged my shoulders when my customers asked me about it. They all commented about her nasty disposition and several offered stories about unpleasant run-ins they had experienced with her around town, such as at the bank or in the diner. “She is a menace to the community,” Mrs. Chapman exclaimed.
I’ve been serving this community for twenty-five years as the village butcher. I knew the needs of my customers well; turkey in November, fresh ham over the Christmas holiday, Kielbasa at Easter time. What the community needed was to be rid of old lady Ambrose.
My store was divided into two parts. In the storefront I sold to customers. It portrayed a very pleasant atmosphere. The shop in the back was where I did all the real butcher work. Hooks, blades and industrial machines occupied the walls and floor spaces. People were squeamish; they would lose their appetite if they saw the preparations meat had to go through to make it presentable. I learned a long time ago, if a pig looks like a pig when you display it, it will not sell. Cut it into pork chops, a roast, bacon and deli slices, then customers would pay three times as much and it would be sold in a day.
I parked in the back lot, always empty at night. Under the veil of darkness, I let myself in through the shop door. I turned on one light only, to make sure it would not be noticed from the street. I started up the large meat-grinder, the X-2000. She’s a wonderful machine, fourteen-inch chopping plates, spinning in alternate directions, able to chop through the toughest meats – steer, bison, and deer meat. This lovely machine would grind up whole cows, bones and all, producing beautifully textured chop meat. Everything but the skull would be ground up. I had another machine to deal with that.
I unraveled the rug and set old lady Ambrose up in the entry tray. The tray was on an incline but I still needed a thick wooden staff to push the meat into the grinder. The grinder got up to speed – a deafening cacophony that shook the walls with its baritone vibrations. I began the task pushing her feet first into the machine. Suddenly, eyes opened and the old lady’s gnarled hands grasped the staff. I let go of the wooden stick and backed away, putting my hand over my mouth in shock and terror. She was still alive as her feet hit the grinding blades.
“Noooo,” she screamed.
It came out in such a terrified and panicked voice, the likes of which I had never heard before. I felt vomit hit the back of my throat. Shredded flesh and splintered bone stumps showed at her ankles where her feet had been only moments previously. This was too much. I wouldn’t do this to an animal; I would not grind them up while they were still alive. I had to kill her. She grabbed the side of the entry tray, pulling herself, in order to get away from the loud machine, which took on the resonance of a large growling demon. I grabbed the wooden staff and smashed her upside the head with it, hoping to at least knock her unconscious. Her grip on the tray let loose and her bloody stumps hit the grinding plates again. A shower of blood sprayed like a lawn sprinkler as her legs were chewed up by the machine.
She produced a shrill scream that pierced my skull and rattled the fillings in my teeth. That voice, that screeching voice was the same voice she used to complain about my prices in the store, the same voice she used when blaming the wait staff while sending back food at the diner, and the same voice she used when she entered my store to make unfounded accusations. I never wanted to hear that harsh voice again. I took the staff and placed it firmly on the woman’s shoulder. I pressed forward, feeding her body into the machine. It ground her up as blood showered my face, hands and clothes. She screamed louder and flailed her arms, trying to dislodge the staff and grab at anything that could pull her out of the monster‘s teeth. Her eyes bulged in her head and darted back and forth, searching for refuge. The X-2000 smiled at me as it chewed and chomped, happy about its meal. Eventually the screaming weakened and ended. Her eyes stopped moving and glazed over. It was just me and the X-2000 finishing another job, like on any other night.
I brought the head over to the Bone Meal Grinder and let it do its work as I set to the task of cleaning. In normal instances the blood would be drained from the animal before entering the grinder but there had been no time for formalities on this night. I hosed down the machinery and the blood vanished into the floor drains.
Summertime – warm weather, sunshine, pools opened, grills fired up – you gotta’ love it! Sheriff Brennan is coming by to question me on Monday. I can’t let it bother me on a glorious Saturday like this one. Today is the Annual Northwood Community Barbeque and Picnic. I sponsored the event this year, as I do every year. I always supply fresh hamburgers – two hundred patties this year. I had to work late several nights in order to get all the patties prepared. Volunteers from the firehouse are grilling them as we speak.
To my surprise, the widow’s little mutt came wandering out of the woods and through the park, most likely attracted by the smell of cooking food. I gave him a burger to eat. I told him to sit and he did. Maybe he’s not such a bad dog after all. He just needs a little structure in his life.
I’ll talk to the Sheriff on Monday. Whatever he wants to accuse me of – he’ll be hard pressed to prove anything without any evidence. If he makes too much noise about it, I‘ll take care of him. The X-2000 told me what to do. She always knows what to do.
Bobby Winston came strolling by with his mouth full of food, chugging it down with a beer. “Great burgers, Glenn,” he said. That’s right. Eat well, my friends and neighbors. Enjoy.
By Michael Thomas-Knight