Slaughter House Story continued…
The Slaughter House – so called because of the nearby abattoir – was a welcoming place where weary travellers and ruddy cheeked idlers could warm their proverbial cockles by the fire and share tall tales of Liverpool life. The landlord was a huge man: Hands like spades, tall as a tree with a deep laugh that rumbled your chest like a deep bassoon. A former butcher, he’d often regale his patrons with stories of the meat trade – of assistants fainting at the sight of a cow’s eye being mulched into sausage meat, or of the high-class lady with a penchant for pig’s parts (they’re a delicacy in some cultures, madam). And his pies were second to none – he still dabbled with a bit of carving and chopping and would serve fine pastries with bubbling buttery crusts and succulent deep fillings.
One sweaty summer night, after throwing out the last drunken stragglers and cleaning his glasses, he heard three knocks on the door.
(KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK)
Grumbling in his gruff old baritone, he called out to the midnight caller: ‘We’re closed, be off with you!’
But again, there came three knocks.
(KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK)
Not a man to be phased by the unknown, he strode through the pub and angrily flung open the doors, only to be greeted by a small, insignificant looking man with greased hair and fine silk robes. As the Butcher began to make his anger known, the little man held out a purse filled with gold coins. The Butcher stopped dead in his tracks, suddenly turned on the charm. It’s amazing what some people will do to make a living.
‘I have a proposition,’ croaked the man. ‘A recipe. I’ve heard your pies are the best.’
Now he had the Butcher’s ear. The man explained that he had more gold in his sack, enough to make the Butcher’s wildest dreams come true, and that all he had to do was butcher some meat and bake it in a pie for the man to eat. He’d be gone by morning, and the Butcher would be rich. Simple.
‘What sort of meat hast thee brought me?’ asked the Butcher.
‘Tender flesh. Not quite chicken and not quite beef,’ came the reply.
Blinded by the riches gleaming before him, the Butcher agreed. He lit the fire and went below stairs to his kitchen. The man brought through a small parcel of still bloody meat – the Butcher suspected he was a poacher, but the gold steered his conscience and he thought nothing more of it. And so while the slimy little man sat by the fire drinking ale the unsuspecting landlord set to work, skewering tendons, searing fine flesh… Creating the greatest pie of his career. He found a few short blonde hairs amongst the trimmings but again, thought nothing of it. An hour and a half later, it was ready. The sun was beginning to rise above the Mersey, vainly gazing at its own reflection as ships set sail. The pie was served with confidence – the Butcher had nibbled a little of the steak to be sure it was just right – and the man sat in silence by the dying embers of the fire gnawing at it, grunting in satisfaction.
When his belly was full, the man nodded, flung a sack of gold towards the Butcher and slipped out into the breaking day.
The Butcher was as happy as a newborn lamb, skipping about the place with glee like a hippopotamus practicing ballet. He locked up and retired to bed, deciding not to open his doors after his long night of baking.
But two days later, the morning papers screamed foul play. ‘BLOODY MURDER! BODY FOUND NEAR MERSEY!’ They cried, telling of a young blonde girl found mutilated with all the hysteria of a good tabloid rag. Huge portions of flesh from her rump and sides had been carved out by the killer.
‘Tender flesh. Not quite chicken and not quite beef.’
The Butcher was beside himself with remorse. Upon seeing the judgemental headlines he locked himself in his kitchen, he hollered like a kicked hound. He sobbed! He puked! He took his finest blade from the rack and cut his own throat, slumping over the table where he’d done the dirty deed and bleeding to death, rich in wealth but poor in morals. Many have heard his tortured cries ringing out amidst the laughter in this now famous Laughter House…
But what is comedy without a little tragedy?