Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Northallerton Abattoir

His da’s da first worked for the Metz Bros. Abattoir, the brothers admiring his granddad’s overhand swing and steady hand. The brothers sold chuck and picnic shoulder, ribs and loin, flank and inside round, his da’s da dressing the meat with brown paper and string. On his off-time, those few minutes between pigs, his granddad smoked his cob outside the back door of the slaughterhouse, the alleyway a litter of rotten loin and chuck, half-incised picnic shoulder, flaps of meat pocketed to yellow bone, broken ribs and flattened out inside round. As the day drew on the back alleyway took on the appearance of a war zone, bales of putrefied flesh and sawed bone, coils of knotted intestine and guts, things hacked and chopped into unusable flanks and cutlets. The Parigi Bros. and the Emilia-Romagna Bros. are in cahoots with the Metz Bros. Having lost 50% of the yellow bone market to an abattoirist in Cork, the Emilia-Romagna’s and the Parigi’s figured a cahoots with the powerful Metz’s would be in their best interest.

A slaughterhouse bureaucrat from Northallerton plotted a cahoots against the three sets of brothers… the plot, to corner the market on picnic shoulder and inside round. His da’s da ended up working for the Northallerton abattoir, making 27½% more on dressing and 42½ on hanging. His face pushed like a spinnaker into the wind, his feet barely touching the peddles, he rode his bicycle round in circles, his grandmamma hollering like a banshee out the summer kitchen window.

That summer he lived with his granddad and grandmamma in their tack-board cottage with the funnel chimney and woodstove in the winter kitchen. While his granddad worked at the abattoir he spent his days in the fields inside the five-mile fence looking for spent shotgun cases and blasting caps. The men who blasted craters in the hard rocky earth for the Northallerton abattoir left behind unexploded caps and golden-brown whiskey in old apple jelly jars. On a good day he found 27 caps and a quarter-jar of whiskey, the mouths of the jars gritty with sand and chipped shale, the caps as new as the day they were taken out of the crate, some still with the red tappet on the hammer-end.

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