Welcome to another Fiction Friday and My SpoonRiver of Houses Series. For the complete series you can go to http://fiction-friday.com and reverse the order.
I am not a shambles. I’ve heard the expression and so have you. The place was a shambles. They left it in a shambles.
Shambles is in all reality, a slaughter house that did not have a roof. An outdoor place to kill, bleed, skin, evisorate, clean and cut the meat the towns folk ate. It wasn’t a pretty site and it smelled to high heaven. Blood, manure and fear are a very sad mix.
Like a shambles, a work house, an asylum, I am located outside of town at the edge of things. Who wants a murder factory inside the city limits?
There seems to be a taboo on how a slaughter house is run. The conflict begins as the animals are guided through my doors. If you really want the inside scoop, I know that many times the poor creatures are dead before the trucks pull up.
The argument rages on about the manner of death.
Some religious communities say that the creature should be fully alive and alert at the time of its death.
Regular Jack out on the street feels a great resistance to eating things that were dead before entering. Yes, he has some feelings of what he shouldn’t eat.
Taking a dead cow to slaughter is against the rules. Anything that falls over in a barn yard, twitches, runs at the nose, dribbles out the other end is not going to become a big mac in Jack’s hand.
The controversy does come in when people discuss the first thing that happens inside my doors. The animal is killed here by a bolt type thing wanged into it’s scull by a man holding a power gun of some sort. The jolting or bolting is up close and personal. The cow drops and is carried on to the next step where it is strung up by its hind legs and bled out.
Some places stun the cows, they are unaware of the bleeding part of the process. This is where the religious folks come in and get all angry.
It seems a cow should be alert at the time of its death. Alert means if you stun them before the step of stringing them up by their heels, they have to be brought back around to an alert state before the death blow is dealt.
I don’t think the alert camp is very humane, these animals are sacrifices in the real sence of the word and I could debate them all day long.
I hated the indignity that happened within my walls. The slaughter house still stands at the edge of town. The turnover in staff has always been steady, it is a work not meant for everyone. But there are those who stay and proudly collect the scraps for rendering. There are owners who continue to make money in good times and bad because very few people are going to give up their steady diet of t-bone steaks, pot roasts and hamburger.
Preparation of meat is a very dehumanizing ordeal for the rendered and the renderer. I stayed a good long time before I shot out through the front end of the building, the sanitized end.
You should know that the slaughter house stands soulless now, I’ve departed the bloody walls. I got all hung up on the sickfulness inside there. The thoughts of men and frightened animals, the stink of fear goes beyond the smell of death.
The slaughter house has a place and a function and fills a need but I don’t have to be a part of it. I am not trapped.
Before I go, where ever it is a soul without a house will go, let me remind you, a shambles is not a mess, it isn’t a trashed apartment or the end of a rave. Use the word reverently. And wash your hands before you eat.
A bit from the research I did before writing I am not a Shambles —
Slaughterhouses act as the starting point of the meat industry, where stock come from farms/market to enter the food chain. They have existed as long as there have been settlements too large for individuals to rear their own stock for personal consumption.
Early maps of London show numerous stockyards in the periphery of the city, where slaughter occurred in the open air. A term for such open-air slaughterhouse is a shambles. There are streets named “The Shambles” in some English towns (e.g. Worcester, York) which got their name from having been the site on which butchers killed and prepared animals for consumption .
The largest slaughterhouse in the world is operated by the Smithfield Packing Company in Tar Heel, North Carolina. It is capable of butchering over 32,000 pigs a day. In the US, the majority of major meat packing plants are located in the Midwestern and High Plains regions.