the black butchering

IMGP8756‘A basement turned butchery was not the ideal location for an act of treason’, the thought swung through his mind in a downward torque like the handle of an axle before its blade meets flesh. After the first loud squeals had been silenced, the blackened room assumed the morbid rhythm of dismemberment.

hack. SPLAT. hack. SPLAT. hack. SPLAT.

The occasional pause to wipe away the sweat, the squish of feet on a red-river floor, maimed the rhthym but it did not kill the truth: an act of treason had been accomplished in the dead of the night. The butchery was open.

When had he finally decided that the options had narrowed to just this one? At what point had he valiantly wrestled reason to the floor and submitted to the truth; one life was worth the eight that weakly gripped the tether to this world upstairs.

Eight children. His eight children. Each one had entered this world with lusty cries and ravenous hunger that he was impotent to appease. Somewhere, sometime, in the half-life of their starvation, he had finally concluded one life was a small price to pay for the pot of stew that would silence their hungry eyes.

hack. SPLAT. hack. SPLAT.

He closed his eyes to the rhythm and imagined the ruddy return of health to the deathly pallor of his children. One life. One act of treason. One black butchering.

History Teacher

‘In pre-1956 revolution Hungary, times were desperate. Families were desperate. Hungarians were starving, much like the Ukrainians under Stalin. And in one act, my grandfather who had at one time been a prosperous farmer, became a traitor in order to feed his family.’

The history teacher. Our children’s history teacher, historian, father of four, theologian, takes a moment to straighten a stack of orderly papers. “When the State requisitioned the land, farmers were forbidden to feed their starving families from the fruit of their own labors. Filling stomachs became acts of treason punishable by death. It was called, ‘the black butchering of the pig’.

The authorities discovered the treason, as they most often did. They came for my grandfather. It was the beginning of the harvest season.”

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