The unnamed narrator describes the stranger who strikes up a conversation with him: “the friendly type, grey at the temples, with the stocky blue-collar build of a man who never lifted a barbell in his life, but could still bench-press me over his head.”
They talk about this and that, discuss what brought them to town, and swap pictures of their grandchildren. The stranger, a butcher, is looking for a new location for a processing plant. Routine stuff. So why does the narrator feel uneasy?
There are no surprises here. The ending is telegraphed from miles away, like a joke everyone but the narrator is in on. What makes the story, though, is the telling of it. It is cute. It’s the sort of conversation that might happen in any number of bars between middle-aged guys in just about any place in the world—up to a point, course. And that’s where it gets weird.
What might be worth a second glance is the idea of a shift in perspective, however. Like the garrulous stranger in the bar, many of us take for granted that others are there for our benefit. We can be polite to them or, like the stranger’s daughter, rude to them, but they still exist for us. Hmmm….
According his blurb, author Danny Macks lives in southern Indiana surrounded by kids, cats, and dogs. He also has some fantasy book for sale through his site, but little additional info about him.
The story can be read here.
Title: “Be Nice to the Butcher”
Author: Danny Macks
First published: Daily Science Fiction, May 25, 2020