Features | Written by Peter Turner 23/01/2014

Original Fiction: THE DAY JOB

The Day Job

It’s not easy to cut through a human skull with a hacksaw. It’s not easy and it’s not fun either. Day in and day out; the same tedious work. Skulls, hacksaw, skulls, hacksaw. It’s tough work but it’s the price you to have pay for the pleasure of killing for a living.

I can’t very well just leave the bodies in my basement, can I? So after I take great pleasure in the mutilation and murder, there are certain mundane chores that have to be done before I can get back to the business of killing.

The best way to dispose of a body, as I’m sure you all know, is to eat it. Where’s the evidence if most of it’s in my belly? But before one can devour a human body there are a number of preparation techniques that must be completed. I won’t bore you with the details; suffice to say it takes a lot of work.

I don’t want you to judge me. I have to make a living, just as you do. My methods are more extreme but I was left with little choice. After the abattoirs closed down, I was of little use to a mechanised society. My butchering skills were swept aside. My whole family lost their jobs as the men with their machines rolled into town. One sweaty summer we were all informed that our services were no longer required. Out here there aren’t many other opportunities for employment and meat was my family’s means of making a living. Always had been, always will be if I have my way.

So after we lost our jobs and the cattle got sent to the slaughter in all new ingenious and ‘sanitised’ ways, there was nothing for me to do. Grandpa got sick. He loved his job, did our grandpa. More than you can imagine. Murder was his life, his income and his reason to get up in the morning. If animals needed slaughtering, grandpa was your man. When the suits told him there wasn’t any work for him anymore he collapsed on the spot. Not from the heat, the smell or the sight of blood but from the callous way those men replaced him with a machine.

Grandpa got my brother and me the job of killing cattle when we were just teens. We worked alongside him from the day we were allowed. Out here there isn’t a paper round, a job in the local cinema or any of the other stuff city kids grow up doing. We do as our elders do and we are damn proud to do it. Grandpa got father his first job there too. Three generations of our family worked together killing, cutting and preparing meat for people to eat. Until father died, that is.

He never got over the loss of our mother and it drove him crazy. So crazy that he died of heartbreak. We’re a close family, you see. We all live up in the same big old house just two miles down the road from the old abattoir. Our family lived there for generations, even before we lived off the meat market; my forefathers built that house and lived there till they died. But with no mother in the house, the air became toxic. Even with Grandpa, father and me and my brother Bill all working every shift they gave us, we could not afford to keep that house. The bank smelled blood, like the suits at the abattoir, and they came hunting for us.

Father couldn’t take the strain after Mum died and he hung himself in the barn. Bill packed up his things and left. Grandpa got sick and it was just me and him alone in the big house, once a place of so much childhood joy. Now empty, dusty, soulless and sad.

Well I wasn’t going to just let them take our house. They took my job, they drove my family to death or desertion and I was forced to make ends meet. For me and for my Grandpa. There ain’t no schools round where I live, no fancy education for me to get some new skills and learn to wear a suit. I couldn’t hang up my apron anyway. Bloody, torn and ragged as it is, it’s the only thing I’ve ever worn to work.

So killing is all I know how to do. Round these parts, you got two kinds of people; those that are locals and those that are just passing through. So I set up my own little abattoir in the basement of the lonely house. We get lots of people passing through round here; passing by the house, stopping for gas, picnics, walks in the fields. So now there are a number of new parts to my job, though I’m essentially still in the butchery business.

First I hunt. Grandpa always said it was what men were born to do. He sits up in the house waiting for me to get home. He’s too old and weak to do much of anything these days so it is me that stalks the prey. Single women are easiest. I’m a big guy but I don’t like much of a fight. They go down quickly with little more than a squeal if you catch them off guard. Just like a little calf, too quick to be scared, too weak to be a threat.

Then I bring them home, hang them up in the basement and bleed them out. I take great pleasure in the killing but it’s only after that the hard work really starts. They make good meat, those people, and it’s more than enough for me and Grandpa to live off. Then I take the rest of it down to the market and see what I can get for it. Veal, Beef, Pork, they’ll believe it’s anything if I prepare it right. So next time you sit down for a meal of delicious meat, spare a thought for me and my hacksaw. I might live right around the corner.