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Crossing the street, the butcher’s neighbor bumped into the man with the top hat.

Pardon me, the butcher’s neighbor said.

The man with the top hat rubbed his shoulder and said he didn’t know if it was a pardonable bump.

When the butcher saw this from a small porthole window in his attic, he knocked on the glass. The man with the top hat struck his cane across the neighbor. Doubled over, the neighbor shouted for help and was struck again. The butcher knocked harder on the glass in order to identify himself as a witness.

With no acknowledgment the butcher kept knocking. Lying on his stomach, the neighbor was getting caned across his buttocks and shouting for help. The butcher knocked on the glass.

Later, in a chest, the butcher found a bronze rapper so began to rap it against the window. The rap was unlike the vain sound of fingers against glass and it caused the attic to fill with pressure. Faster now, the butcher continued to rap and with more force. Even faster, the neighbor’s buttocks were being caned and even faster the neighbor shouted for help and even faster, faster, faster, the butcher intoned as he rapped on the glass.


She was on his shoulders. She moved to another man’s shoulders. She was going to visit the butcher’s shoulders.

Her father was strong, she told the butcher. The strongest. Her father could bounce her on his lap. He could pick her up with one hand. He could toss her in the air. With two hands, her father could pick up a motorcycle that someone had parked in his driveway and put it in the street, she told the butcher. When the biker returned, in leather and a bandana, saw his bike in the street where passing cars might clip it, her father could stand on the driveway smoking a pipe and daring the biker, who could be twice her father’s size, to say something, she told the butcher. Her father let her sit on his shoulders for hours, she yawned at the butcher, her legs stretching and then reencircling the butcher’s neck. Her father could open any jar. He could carry huge bags of dog food over his shoulder. He could fall asleep on the couch and dream sequences of his favorite cop programs that corresponded with the TV. He could not say a word for days. When the car stalled, her father could operate on the engine with a coathanger, in the winter. Get it to start, then hit a moose, one that could be fully overgrown and grizzlier than pictures of bears she had seen, up so close, its head now past the windshield, where it could rest on the cupholder between her parents, blinking at her, she told the butcher.

Her legs were going to get tighter. She was chubby, a little, too much for the butcher’s bad back. He was going to warn her about his back. Before he knew it she had moved to another man’s shoulders and the butcher was rubbing his neck, where her heat had been.


Lots of piled wood. All rotten. They took photographs of the largest pile. The largest pile had a sign or plaque before it. A mist was hanging around and they squinted past the gauze at the piles. You can’t throw your rotten wood in an ordinary trash bin anymore, without receiving a fine, the tour guide was explaining. There were now special green bins for the rotten wood that trucks picked up and brought to the site. The bus stopped.




butcher stories


rob walsh