The Butcher

There is a butcher whose sons line the walls of the grocery with top-quality canned goods and learn to shave the fat from pork easy as shaving their own faces. He is friendly to the customers and occasionally whacks his boys behind the counter. He fears his wife will be shot by a thief while working the cash register up front. She dies instead grinding out three weeks worth of kousa for Sunday dinners. He loads up the marble blocks with entire legs of lamb, pork bacon to be sliced thin but not too thin, beef for grinding. Fish isn’t an issue; this is a meat counter. Hands dug deep into a leg of lamb are coated in blood. Blood under the nails is so black it could just as easily be dirt, the dirt from an olive grove where green olives are pulled down in swift, mindless motions. He wears a white apron streaked with fresh red blood and dried brown blood from a morning of butchering. Neat rows of pork chops line a tray. This is not destiny. This is pay the bills, make my wife happy, get those boys off to school meat. Take my family to church, heads held high meat. Meat like the tip of a finger when it gets caught in the mix. Then the butcher can’t even tell the difference between his own flesh, and that of the cow.

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