Another Sarah


N. J. Kailhofer

Sarah is a tough old bird, Alan thought to himself, but she’s got to go.

His sudden, forceful move caught her from behind, and he pinned her frame over the wooden crate. Her surprised white head hung over the edge. Her dark brown eyes were wide, trying to guess what was about to happen.

She struggled, of course. Her kind always did.

Can’t see the end before it comes, Alan mused. They strut around like they own the place, poking their little noses into everything, scratching up anything they can to get ahead. But they never get far, do they?

Alan took out his knife. It was his favorite tool, his constant companion. He lovingly brought its long, thin edge to the back of Sarah’s neck. This was the moment, the time when he felt like a true artisan.

"The secret," he whispered to Sarah as she struggled and protested beneath his rough hand, "is not to stab or chop. The secret is to slide the knife slowly back and forth, slicing only a little in each stroke. That will give you a good, clean cut."

Sarah really fought at him now, and he knew her squawking would bring his wife out of the kitchen and behind the shed where he was if he did not move quickly.

The blade slid forward. A dribble of red tumbled out over the white before cascading downward to the green grass below. The blade glided backward, changing the dribble to a torrent. Alan loved the colors. The beautiful hue of the blood as it spattered against the brown of the crate, the green of the grass. His nose sampled the air, thick with that delicious, wet smell they got when they were afraid like that.

I love this, all of this. It's like being in heaven.

His ecstasy was short-lived. Sarah’s head severed from her torso, flopping to the ground. It rolled a little before tipping over on its side. Her one visible eye glared up at him, accusingly. He could see it trying to focus on him, on her murderer, but it was already glazing over.

It was all a part of the pageant as far as Alan was concerned -- the struggle of life and death, predator and prey. Some were born to succeed, and some… well, some weren’t. Sarah deserved her end. She was born for him to kill her.

He sighed and tipped her quivering body over the edge, waiting for the blood to empty from it. When it was done, he would commence his real work. A less skilled artisan would have to skin her, but Alan was no such amateur. A few short slices with his knife would separate breast from the bone, and then he’d move to the thigh. Money cuts, both of them. Then he would move on to the less enjoyable slices.

"Alan!" His wife’s shrill voice jerked him from his thoughts.

Crap, he thought, she’s out of the house already.

His wife was not the forgiving sort, and he was genuinely afraid as she stepped out from behind the peeling red paint at the edge of the creaky shed.

"Alan!" Her round face scowled at him under short, black hair. Over her brown, short-sleeved blouse she wore a wide, white apron that covered all the way down to her thick ankles and her flat leather shoes. Her hands quickly posed in judgment on her heavy hips. "Ain’t you done butchering that clucker yet? Damn your slow hide! C’mon, I’ve got folks in there who are hungry for that meat."

He brought up his thick, strong arms in front of his hairy chest, and hooked his thumbs into the red suspenders that held up the field of fabric in the pants that covered the lower half of his enormous frame.

"She isn’t ready. If she’s not drained the meat won’t be good."

She rolled her eyes. "She? Oh, don’t tell me you named this one, too. Dammit, they’re only cluckers -- stupid chickens. Now, I’ve got a house full of relatives who know we’re butchering today, and they want to eat. Get some more out of the coop and get with it! And don’t forget the bones, I need to make stock for the soup tomorrow."

He looked at her with pleading eyes. "Aren’t you making bread? You know I love the bread."

She grumbled, "Making that flour is a lot of work. A lazy good-for-nothing like you doesn’t deserve that."

"Your kin will love it, too," Alan said. "Everybody raves about your bread."

Alan's wife frowned and pursed her thin, creased lips. That caught her, Alan thought. She’ll want to show off how well she’s done for herself -- how well she lives --off my hard work.

Finally, she said, "I’ll make it, but only if you hurry up." She turned away. "And you’d better wash before you come in. I’ll not have the stink of those cluckers in my house. Don’t you shame me in front of our company, or there’ll be no bread. You won’t get near my bed for a month, either."

He hid his anger until she was back inside. She never respected him, his care and love for his art. All she really wanted when she married him was his big farm, which turned into "her" big house, and "her" bedroom.

And why did she have to keep calling them cluckers? He hated that name. If he was as small as they were, he’d be chicken, too. Sighing, he turned to get another from the coop.

Still, the giant decided with an evil grin, best not to let the wife know I named them all after her. She might not grind their bones to make bread, and I love bone bread. It makes raising humans worth it. Plus, I get to kill a new Sarah almost every day.


© 2005 by N. J. Kailhofer

Nate Kailhofer is a thirty-something resident of Kaukauna, Wisconsin (no 'cheesehead' jokes, please). His work has appeared in the AlienSkin and Planet Magazine webzines, and (of course) in Aphelion (most recently Frankenstein, Inc., and Just Another Day at the Office, both in August, 2004). At present, he is the Most Usual of The Usual Suspects who contribute(?) most of the Aphelion Lettercol posts. He is also a member of Nightwatch Writers Not-So-Anonymous ...

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