by Bradley Mason Hamlin
-Strange – 1 Page –
Ace looked at the sun with his eyes semi-protected by black shades. For a moment he wondered if he could tell the time from the position the big ball held in the sky. He shrugged his shoulders. No one cares what time it is on the beach. He put the meat on the tree trunk and slammed the sharp cleaver down onto the animal flesh, turning the little creatures into tacos for the making. He put a hunk of raw chicken in his mouth and chewed on the flesh.
He spit the bird meat out. He wanted to surf and he wanted to get drunk and he wanted to get a girl drunk and he wanted to have sex with the girl while drunk and leave her on the sand so he could go surfing.
Katrina worked at a wiener factory and she knew a lot about blood and meat. She didn’t mind that he made tacos on the beach, and she didn’t mind that he chopped meat for a living, but she seemed disappointed he didn’t know how to put the meat back on the bone. Their relationship, she said, couldn’t coagulate. His eyes stared straight ahead at the ocean as she watched him sharpen his butcher knife and drink tequila shots.
He thought about the motion of the waves. The sea just gives and gives; rolls in and out, smoothing out the wrinkles. Seagulls spiral like drunken pilots. The saltwater pours over you, a sailor’s baptism, reaching into your pores and dissolving the dirt.
Katrina drifted away from him and let her toes get wet in the cool water. Ace stared at her and watched as she let the waves run up her legs and the salt wind blew her white skirt up around her slightly fat ass.
Something glared, flashed; he had to look away, despite those shades across his eyes. He looked again. Metal? Something metallic rose out of the water.
What the …?
Ace almost chopped off his middle fingertip with the cleaver. He held the knife tight and walked toward the water. The thing stood high enough now to block the glare of the setting sun.
The kids and the women and the men all ran, some of them screaming as if they had just seen that mechanical shark in that Spielberg movie.
Like one of those old time “B” movie robots. The giant square head, and square jaws that looked like it could eat a truck loomed over the beach. Ace walked forward, clutching that blade. Katrina hadn’t stirred. Frozen with fear.
He would show her, he thought, now or never. He would show her how to put the meat back on the bone.
The robot’s giant square foot stomped down into the beach mud, its other foot reaching onto the soft sand and landing just in front of Ace. He had stepped right over Katrina as if he hadn’t seen her at all.
Ace looked up.
The robot stood a good fifty feet above. Ace screamed, “Fuck you!” and chopped down on the robot’s square metal foot.
The robot tilted its head and looked down.
His great square fingertips reached for Ace’s shoulders and picked him up. Ace looked like an insect squiggling between two robotic fingers. The robot moved forward in tremendously powerful strides. In two steps he found the chopping block.
He laid Ace across the wooden stump.
A magnet in one of the robot’s fingertips plucked the meat cleaver from Ace’s hand.
Katrina came running …
The robot de-boned Ace with the kill of a sober surgeon.
Katrina watched the whole of the horror.
She stood, shocked solid, as the robot squished all of the meat of Ace into one round meatball and bounced him down at her feet. Ace actually did bounce once on the sand, almost to her knees, before falling flat and sticking.
The robot chopped the cleaver into the wood of the stump then opened a metal pocket on his right thigh that looked like a garbage chute and dropped Ace’s bloody bones inside. He then turned with precise mechanical movements and walked back to the water and down once again into the ocean depths.
Katrina picked up Ace, still in a blood-red and pink ball, and placed him on top of the chopping block, but no one got in line to buy the meat.