Watching Ma butcher a carcass Prompt: What you need a good home-cooked meal.
The cleaver slammed onto the butcher’s block, splitting the joint. I watched, as ever curious to see the bone fragment. Ma stretched back and waggled the cleaver loose and, raising it high above her head, slammed it down again. This time the leg broke free of the carcass and I had to duck under Ma’s bulky frame to catch it before it hit the floor.
“Nice save, boy,” Ma commented. She swung the cleaver again as I scuttled clear.
The cold meat stuck to my hand, the blood and juices tacky and congealing. Ma aimed a half-hearted kick at my rear as I popped back up. Grinning, I hefted the leg up to the worktop beside her. It was heavy and nearly as big as me, but I juggled it around until it was secure on the kitchen counter.
I shuffled back to the carcass and sniffed it. The tang of coppery blood and flesh sinew hit my nostrils and I dipped my finger into a cavity. Wiggling my finger round, feeling it slop in the gloopy insides and brush against hard bone.
“Cut that out,” Ma scolded. She shook the cleaver at me, a splat of blood arching into my face. “Gonna take y’finger, you do that ag’in.”
I nodded, not answering; but I couldn’t help but pop my finger in my mouth and suck it clean. Ma sighed.
“I tol’ you notta do that, boy.” The cleaver stomped into the block, punctuating her words. “What you,” thunk “need is” thunk “a” thunk “good” thunk thunk “home-cooked” thunk “meal.”
She shifted along the worktop, twisting the remaining limbs of the carcass as she butchered it. Ma was good at butchering. I once saw her cut up an entire cow by herself. Not many men could do that, but Ma was strong and with that cleaver in her hand I truly believed nobody could ever harm me.
Well, ‘cepting Ma herself.
As she cut up the carcass, I followed her around; careful to keep out of her way until she motioned me to take a hunk of meat and put it here or there. The slabs of meat made my mouth water and each time Ma wasn’t looking, I lifted the chunks to my face and breathed in the sweet smell. I loved the glistening sheen of marble – marble, Ma says, means fat and that means flavour; a better sizzle when you cook it – but I prefer my meat rare. Blue, if I’m wholly honest. That’s where Ma and I disagree the most. She’d cook flesh until it’s brown and tough – claims the fire’ll burn away all the impurities. M’self, I’d barely heat it; let the juices drip onto the coals and watch, fascinated, as the flames lick the once-living flesh. Then I’d rip it off the stove and sink my teeth into the slab of sticky-red; smearing blood and juice across my face.
Ma tells me off when I do that. Uncouth is what she calls it. Says it shows no respect for the living. I’ve given up arguing that by then it ain’t living, ‘cos that just earns me a beating.
But frankly, I don’t care where the meat comes from – cow, hog, horse or elk. Although, my favourite is probably the one she's butchering now, careless, sloppy hitch-hiker.