The Butcher

The Butcher

A short story by James Grant

I saw the Butcher on my lunchtime walk. He was ahead of me, dressed in black and leading a German Shepherd.
The Butcher’s shop is a short walk from my flat and although they deliver, I choose to collect. I get comfort from seeing the people that prepare what I eat. It’s more personal that way, knowing those involved in the process and seeing where they work. Standing on the saw dusted tiles of shop floor and smelling the aroma of cold meat, is more satisfying than the sterile anonymity of supermarket aisles. The vacuum sealed joints of Tesco don’t much resemble animals they’ve been cut from.

The shop closes at 12:30 each day and so I figured that the Butcher was returning home. I’d never seen him outside of work but figured that he must live close to me, on the other side of the park, perhaps. I knew for sure that he didn’t live in my building, as the overbearing management board don’t allow pets.

As I passed the bus stop, I caught up with the Butcher because his pace slowed. His dog sniffed at leaves and the Butcher turned in irritation, wanting to be back home and in the warmth. 

As I drew beside the pair, the dog reared up to soil the pavement. 
“At least stop walking if you’re going to shit.” the Butcher said, not noticing me. 

I smiled as I passed the pair and the dog looked away, shamed. The Butcher lifted his gaze and gave a subtle nod in my direction, unsure if he knew me.

Out front of my building, orange leaves were neatly piled atop the grass and two removals vans were parked with their back doors open. A man in a polo shirt unwrapped grey blankets from a wardrobe and I wondered who was moving in. 
As I placed my key into front door of my building, I turned and saw the Butcher walking past. I felt a powerful urge to shout something stupid like “pork chops”, but I’m glad that I didn’t because I like the Butcher and the shop he works at.

I’ve long since realised that I’m not funny.