I’d never intended to become a butcher. Frankly, the smell of raw meat repulsed me. I was a delicate child, and the thought of handling animal carcasses all day filled me with a kind of visceral horror. But the inertia of reality prevailed and when the time came I inherited my father’s spotless white apron, and the name “Webber and Sons” ceased to have real meaning.
I have no sons, and no plans to have any. When I die, this shop will be sold and it’s fate will be the fate of another family. Or not. Perhaps it will be remodelled as a cafe, a clothes shop, a bakery. Will it ever escape the fug of death that greets me when I open up each morning? I no longer know if that is a real smell or the ghost of all the vile miasma that has clung to me like a needy lover through my life in this place.
Once my employees have processed the meat, it isn’t so bad. Just hunks of undistinguished matter. It’s the chicken, that’s the worst bit. Whole chickens, heads still on. Legs stretched taut, necks limp and broken. I can’t look at them. I can’t look at anything like that. The chickens. The meat, dangling from hooks. The men I find in the doorways of the town, necks at that odd angle, faces contorted as they stare through me. I look away as I carve them into meat. I was a delicate child.