by Marty Kellie
There is more than one way to get to there from here. Know your enemy.
Joe wrapped the last of the prime rib and put the packages in the refrigerator, nodding in satisfaction. Nice. That was a very fine beef Morley had sent him. 'Only the best for my customers. I won't handle any of that second rate stuff' he mused as he stripped off his soiled gloves and dropped them in the garbage. He picked up a brush and started scouring the cutting block.
"Carol I'm almost done here. All the cutters have been sterilized. You can come and clean the block again. Leave the floor and the tiles for Peter. You look tired."
"Yeah. I just have to finish this last bit. By God Joe. You are the cleanest man, let alone butcher I've ever seen!"
"Never too clean Carol. Someone get's sick cause I'm carless how am I going to sleep eh? No. Do it right the first time."
"Well Peter will do a good job all right! Bless the boy. He can't do much but what he does he's good at."
"That's why I like him Carol. He's conscientious. I only have to show him how to do things once and he gets it right."
The door chimed as a late comer walked in. Joe's shoulders went up into a tight knot. Late business was a pain. He'd have to clean the cutting block and knives all over again. But he couldn't turn away a customer. Suppressing a scowl he walked to the service counter and looked over his glasses at the tiny woman standing before him.
"I know it's late. I just want to place an order for delivery later this week. I'll give you the list and pay for it now" she smiled nervously and handed him a list.
"Well that's fine, fine. I can do that for you Missus."
"If you can price it for me now I'll pay you and it can be deliver it as soon as it's convenient."
As Joe read the list his eyebrows crawled up his forehead (ten pounds of bacon (sliced thick), five pounds of spicy pork sausage, a three foot roll of garlic sausage, half a dozen packs of ground pork (wrapped in one pound packs), two pounds of sizzle ham (the fatty kind), 12 bags of pork rinds, a dozen pork chops, a block of cheese and 5 pounds of butter. Five minutes later he had it tallied up. "OK Missus. That'll be $76.58. I can deliver tomorrow afternoon." She handed over the money.
"Just one more thing if you don't mind" she whispered. "This is a gift. No one is to know who sent the meat. I'd be very embarrassed if anyone found out. The people aren't doing very well and I just want to help. But promise me you won't let anyone know who sent it. Not even your staff."
"Of course I understand. I promise I won't say a word to anyone" Joe said. He offered his hand to the little woman. As she left the shop he was almost in tears. People amaze me, he thought. They can be so kind.
The next day the delivery driver told Joe the guy who opened the door looked like he'd been starving. Joe was happy for the business but the generosity of the stranger had touched his heart. That night he took a bottle of wine home to celebrate as he told his wife all about the kind lady and her generous gift.
Two weeks later just as he was closing the door chimes rang. It was the little woman again. Smiling, she handed him the money and list and he proffered her his hand. He was glad for the business and it touched him to meet anyone so kind and giving.
The winter wore on. Business would have been a bit slow if not for his generous customer. She'd started to buy a bit to take home for herself as well. The woman was a frugal eater. She'd buy some cheese, organic chicken or fish for herself and send a large order of meat to the man in the house. He had started to stock organic chicken just for her. Now he had a real market for it and had to stock it on a regular basis. The people who bought organic chicken would also buy all the turkey and fresh fish he could stock. That little woman was good for business. Who'd have thought!
One day she stopped coming in and he wondered what had become of her. While business was better than it had been in years he kind of missed his gentle customer. A few weeks later Joe took his wife to the theater. As they got up to leave he spotted the little woman sitting with several ladies from the church.
"Look Monica. There's that woman I was telling you about. She is such a kind and generous person. She came in almost every two weeks for over a year and bought food for some poor man who had no money.
"Oh my god Joe. That's Mrs. O`Connor. She was married to that horrible man. Everyone knew that he drank and beat her and stole her money. Even the jewelry her grandmother left her disappeared. The man wouldn't work and finally drove her out of her own house. Her friends took her in.
Â "Really. She seems very happy now. What's happened?" he asked incredulously.
"Well, last month he died from a heart attack. For some reason he gained almost a hundred pounds." his wife said. "She got her house back. But you know what else. She was smart enough to keep up the insurance policy. She's a very well off woman now."
Mrs. O'Connor got up to leave and as she turned around she saw Joe sitting with his wife. She smiled and waved and as she walked away there was a happy bounce in her step. A chill ran down Joe's spine.