Stealing Meat ~ fiction by Rebecca Gransden

The blender buggered up. Sent the day out of whack, getting partially smushed fruit out of bent blades, the future smoothie halted to become a pithy lump. My only meal, slopped into a plastic breakfast bowl. Scooped out with a tea spoon, as the washing up piles up.

Better go out and steal some meat.

I squat in my own place. Circled around town for a while, after my skint disposition led to rent arrears, and I left the door ajar so I could get evicted. One room, street level, behind a hairdressers, door opening to an alleyway that even burglars don’t bother with. I was happy here, content paying for it when I could. Now I’m happy again, even happier skipping the rent collector. The place sat empty for months after I couldn’t get back inside, so I broke in, for old times’ sake, and to see if any of my stuff was still about. Not much, but sneaky treasures when you have nothing: mugs with cobwebs in, half used soaps and some other crap. Covered in a layer of my not being there. I wiped it off and kipped the night, only meaning to stay that long, but something told me the place had been forgotten and no one’s been round since. So I stay here. The electric still works, like a gift from an overseeing angel. The water doesn’t, been switched off, so I rotate my visits to eateries with bathrooms, to get a bit clean when it’s quiet, and to take a shit.

Better go out and steal some meat.

I found the blender left in a skip. Didn’t expect it to work but it did. Was nervous to switch it on at first and let it run, as it was obviously near to busting, making a godawful racket, with rattling and scraping deep inside. The walls are thick, but I don’t think anyone cares if I’m here or not. I suspect some of the shops out front know I’m about, though I’ve tried my hardest to stay low profile, walk like I’m strolling past, like any shopper lost in a vague purpose. That’s how you have to be when you steal meat. Walk around like it’s routine, no biggie, selecting the finest cut for Sunday, travel with uncaring certainty towards the checkout, like that’s where you want to head, it’s natural. Then naturally walk past it and out the door. Demeanor is everything when stealing meat. The times you get caught are when someone is on the lookout, has their radar fully primed. Otherwise, the meat is there for the taking.

So, better go get this meat then.

I prefer to pulp my fruit into smoothies. They turn out more like a puree with that old blender. Now it’s dead I’ll have to just cut it up, but it’s better for my stomach to have it smooth. Can’t keep much down nowadays, and fruit percolates because of the acid, but there’s orchards and hedgerows laden with free bounty and I can’t afford to reject it. The meat I get I try to flog at a few pubs huddled together in an overlooked part of town. They are mostly lifeless and won’t stay around for long, the regulars quickly dying off, partaking in the corrosive habits perpetuated by the sticky carpet dives, nicotine stains peeking out from behind chunky embossed wallpaper, from those days that were thick with smoke inside. At least when smoking was legal the smell drowned out the aroma of bleach. Under the railway tracks, the glasses rattling to some express train carrying commuters to the city. Old timers sitting patting inert dogs. Men more eyebrow than anything else. Glaring at the football shirt brigade, tutting with remaining teeth. Already fading and apart, these men. They want meat. And I get it for them.

The shop was lit godly white, out of body experience level. Must’ve been refitted since I last paid a visit, but on the surface it seemed the same, just everything brighter. Got a joint, some chops. Felt weird, the light was burrowing. Like a living CCTV conscience unblinking. Dodged it though. Went right out, lifting the meat from under their sniffy noses. Maybe it’s not correct to stop a man who looks pregnant, ‘cause who knows nowadays, right? Carrying my meaty babe to birth it frozen solid onto the creaking fold-up bed, that would break if I tried to actually fold it up as the hinges are more rust than mechanism now. Put the chops in the spot on the draining board, the place that stays out of the sun and is always cold, keeping them chilled for later when I’ll move them to the pub and pray the old men are there with taste buds destroyed but that also remember the joys of licking soft meat from bone and fork.

Until then I’ll have the joint against me as I rest on this low bed. Frosty ice covers the meat, and I can see red and purple below, under freezer made snow, a landscape beneath, steppes of off-white animal fat stretching to meet plains of claret undercut with purply tundras. I run my finger over the surface, the sugar-like ice dissolving to leave dewy clear plastic. Slowly, my finger traces a smiley face through the snow, smirking a pinky grin back at me. As always, it’s inviting, and I poke out my tongue. I let it hang, close to the frost, feel the cold rise, carried to the warmth of my tongue, hovering above the smile, fingerprint eyes refreezing in front of me, the cold of the joint making them cataract. But still my tongue wanders, and risks the ice, and I push hard enough to impress but not enough to stick, the practice I’ve had with frozen flesh making the process near instinctual now, now I know the meat.

I’ll run my tongue over every part, this cut not mine to taste but I’ll still have it. Frost gone, I’ll shove the joint into a bag, squeaky plastic has a memory now, a secret those elder men will never know, chomping on the good old meat, when days were better and men like me didn’t exist in their world.

Rebecca Gransden lives on an island and writes sometimes. She can be found on Twitter @rlgransden and online occasionally at

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