The Family Business (Working Title)

29 Dec

Coming in 2014, the tale of a family business and how it can go so strangely awry……

I was five when my daddy handed me my first knife.

It was a hunting knife with a serrated blade. I saw my wide eyes reflected back at me in the shiny blade as I reached my fat five year old hand toward its business end. My daddy smacked my hand fast and hard and said sharply, “No!” Before the tears could flow, he flipped the knife around and wrapped my fat fingers around the wooden handle. It was heavy as daddy let go of it. I was surprised by the weight but I didn’t drop it. I looked at my daddy proudly as I held it pointed to the ground. He wrapped his arms around mine and lifted my wrist to level the knife. He raised my arm at the elbow then pushed my hand down hard. The knife sliced the air with the most pleasing swooshing sound and hit the wood stump in front of me with a “thud”. I didn’t like the sound of that thud, but I did enjoy the skin removal of the deer daddy brought home later that same year. It sounded smooth and free, like the deer meat underneath had been dying to get out. This was daddy’s sixth deer this year – he skinned deer for anyone who would pay him. It was our side business. He brought me in to watch so I’d get used to the process, he said. He said I needed to not cringe when I saw the deer or feel bad that it had died. Daddy needn’t worry – there was something peaceful about the deer, about the way its eyes looked straight ahead. It didn’t have to worry about one more thinning winter. It didn’t have to run away from hunters anymore. Its plight was over, and it had gained the final freedom. I was honored to be a part of the process, even if it was the end process. I was destined to be a hunter, and as soon as daddy let me, I was carving skin off deer myself, draining the fluids and feeling the skin peel away in my hands. It was the only control I had in my young life, and I relished every minute of it. I eventually learned how to grind the meat and mix it with strips of pink meat from pigs. Daddy sold what he could and gave the rest back to the people who paid him to strip the deer. He had been a butcher his whole life; this was a natural side job for him.

When daddy died, I was twenty. I had graduated college early with honors in all my courses. I ran the gamut of summer and winter courses to finish early. Daddy saw me walk for my diploma and dropped over sideways from a heart attack the next day. It was 1999. The turn of the century was coming and everyone was grabbing their aluminum hat. I’m glad daddy never got to see those idiots on TV. I dragged through job applications that year; mom was no help in her current condition so I kept daddy’s house. I didn’t care if I got a job or not. I often thought back to the days of the deer and how pleasant the flesh felt peeling from the skin. I soon became fixated on it and wanted that feeling again, if only to get closer to daddy.

I started hunting again that fall. I used my daddy’s old rifles and bagged the legal deer limit. I ripped out their guts in the woods, dragged them home, drained and peeled them, but wasn’t completely satisfied. I mixed the deer meat with pig like daddy showed me, but it just didn’t taste the same when it was cooked. I thought I was just missing daddy and wrote off my dissatisfaction to grief. I got a job offer that winter two states over and offered to let mom come with me. She denied, telling me it was my time to explore the world and I had to leave our small town anyway. She told me she would be fine. I moved within a week, all on the company’s hefty dime. I started the new job and fell into quite a regular routine.

I still felt something missing from my core, however. I missed my daddy and I craved…something to fill the hole. I had no idea what I was looking for until I saw her – all five foot six of her. I was running in the park and I came across a shoe on the path. This wasn’t unusual; people left all types of trash lying in this park. I slowed down when I saw the shoe though; to this day I don’t know why. The shoe contained a foot, which contained a leg, which led up to a crumpled skirt, which held a sweet little ass… this was a full dead person. She was just dead, there on the path, calling to me to come claim her. I looked around to make sure no one was looking, but since it was late and the path was wooded, no one was around. I pushed my way into the woods and dragged her with me. I held her close to me, feeling her skin against mine. I ran my fingers over her face, her hair, her mouth and her nose. I rocked her in my arms gently. She was stiff, but not yet bloated. She couldn’t have been there more than two days. I held her and marveled at my find, then I pulled at her skin.

It rose slightly in my fingers. Since she was stiff, it didn’t peel quite yet, but I knew I would get my knife underneath her scalp easily. I surprised myself with this thought, but since she was already dead, I didn’t think anyone would notice if I took her skin. I wondered why no one was looking for her yet, and as I wondered that thought, I also thought I should get out of there. I couldn’t take her back to my apartment so I’d have to leave her here. My heart shattered at the thought. I wanted to free her from her torture, as I had freed all those deer from their earthly fur and skin. I wanted to feel her flesh against her bones. I wanted to witness the white shine of the bone under the surface. I cried as I walked away, realizing what I wanted and what I could never have.

The mystery continues from here. Does he go back to that dead body, or is it found before he can get his knife? Does he go see a shrink about his desire to skin women? Why doesn’t his venison taste the same as his daddy’s? What is he forgetting? Must be a spice, right? Why does he feel an attraction to this dead woman? It’s gonna get real interesting around here….

If you’re dying to read more, stay tuned. In the meantime, order my previous book of strange tales and short stories while you wait for the next installment of “The Family Business (Working Title)”


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