Fatted Calf

Edgar Nailbite hadn’t eaten in days through circumstances entirely beyond his control, and so was elated to wander before the little restaurant on Pybbing Lane. On an old looking sign above the peeling door was written simply “The Meatery.” On the door was stapled a list of specials, but the only one was fatted calf, typed in thick black letters. As the list of specials drew enough saliva into his mouth to drown a fatted calf, Edgar danced right in.

Despite that there was only one table, perfectly round, and only one chair, in the very center of the very vertical and very red dining room, the Meatery did not accept reservations. Luckily enough, the table was unoccupied. A waiter, with a right eyeball whose odd quality Edgar couldn’t immediately put his finger on, led him three feet from the entrance to the table, where he thrust a menu into his hands.

As he lit the candle in the center of the table with a terrible-smelling match, the waiter said, “Our specials tonight are fatted calf,” as though there were a jagged bone caught in his windpipe. Fatted calf was also the only thing on the menu, which listed it over and over again. After some deliberation Edgar decided on the fatted calf.

“Excellent choice, sir,” the waiter lauded. He wrenched the menu from Edgar’s hands and bounded behind the kitchen doors, on one of which was written, “Staff only – no exceptions.”

Left alone, Edgar twiddled his thumbs and listened to his stomach growl at him angrily for having neglected it for so long. For a while he watched the candle shrink, then peered upwards and guessed that the ceiling loomed about twenty feet above him. There dangled precariously a giant chandelier that could hardly fit within the Meatery’s four red walls. Soon Edgar heard a pounding noise beyond the kitchen doors, which sounded exactly like a meat tenderizer smacking a lump of fatted calf over and over again.

For ten minutes or a half hour Edgar listened to the sound of the tenderizer smacking, as precise as a metronome. Suddenly the waiter burst from the doors and made Edgar jump. The waiter pushed the burning candle off the table to make room for the huge silver platter of meat, far more fat than lean. He handed Edgar something like a sword to hack apart the vast cut. Edgar finally noticed that on the waiter’s right eye he wore an eyepatch with an eye painted on it.

Left alone, Edgar started slashing deftly at the fatted calf, which submitted to each stroke by sliding apart. Even if he hadn’t been starving to the point of illness, the yellow meat would be hardly something Edgar could turn up his nose at. Even if he’d swallowed a cannonball there would have been a great deal of difficulty resisting.

It wasn’t until he could see his silvery face on the flesh-cleared platter that Edgar began to feel horrible. He threw down the sword as he became starkly aware of just how much beast he had consumed. His stomach ruptured before he knew it and his head splashed lifelessly into the platter’s puddle of animal juice.

The next night, the list of specials on the peeling door was amended to say, “Fatted Calf – Now Fatter Than Ever!”

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