Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Mechanical difficulties

Boris' hands didn't work. No, no, this wasn't happening. He whacked his right hand against the edge of the counter to wake it up. Three people were waiting out front, the store was packed. Everyone was getting meat today, lamb cut into stew-size cubes, a good ribeye steak, a pound of lean hamburger, what was wrong with turkey? Boris wanted to know, for Thanksgiving, you were supposed to have turkey, not hamburger, what were these people thinking?

He butted his hand against the knife, but nothing, he couldn't even feel it. Was he having a heart attack? That would be just the left hand, right? And he'd feel it all down his arm, wouldn't he? This was something else, like his arms ended at the wrists, or, or like his hands were stuffed into giant mittens.

Giant mittens, he was thinking about giant mittens and the blond guy with the lamb shank was looking at his watch. You don't have to do it so dramatically, Kiddo, thought Boris, I know you're impatient, at least you have your hands.

The store was even crazier than last year, Boris could see a baby screaming over by the paté, hanging on the mother's hip, the mother serenely, obscenely oblivious, tossing paté in her cart like there was a shortage. The rich are different than you and me, Boris said to his wife almost every night as he climbed into bed smelling of a thousand slaughters, Maria yawning and turning over, They're just people, she'd say, but she didn't see them, visibly annoyed at having to do their own shopping, it all came down on Boris' head, one of the last of the live butchers, they all thought of him as their private servant.

The worst were the over-polite ones.

"Um, excuse me?" Blondie was actually tapping his toes. "Um, I don't mean to be difficult, but, um, I do have an appointment?"

Like making it a question made it all right, meant he wasn't being ordered around, wasn't a servant who belonged to anyone with the bank account to shop here.

Boris brought his hand down hard against the counter. Nothing. He looked at the growing line out front, all of them in their Ferragamos and Armani, Prada handbags and matching little dogs to stuff into them. He should climb over this counter and show them what a man was, he would roar like a bear and smash the glass into glittering bits, he could see it, could see himself standing a head above every one of these little faded people, they would scream at the sight of his massive fists...

But no. Boris let his arms hang dead at his sides. He couldn't even make a fist.


anne said...

Oh no...
What happens to him? Does he get lynched by a blondie-led mob?

jason evans said...

Wonderfully disturbing. I like your perspective, CB.

Daniel Heath said...

man I hate it when that happens. I got to cut the meat, and I -can't-.

but, hey,
"smelling of a thousand slaughters"
that one's a keeper.