Jackson is a butcher struggling to make it in this hard, fast-paced city.
A huge black man, with the body of a retired linebacker; his heart always pure country. And there it remained.
He loves his trade, he loves his business, and he loves his place. He loves his shop and all the different people that come in to buy assorted meats. And his is of the finest quality. Jackson gets it all shipped in from back home, weekly if he need be.
How he misses the country, though? How he misses his home?
Jackson sits there thinking just that, chopping up and wieghing out a tray of porterhouses - his stark white apron splashed red, almost dripping with blood - when the door to his shop opens; ringing the bell held above.
As a beautiful woman walks through the door - a happily inquisitive look on her face - changing Jackson's life forever. We'll have to wait and see if it's for the better or worse.
She walks up to the counter, her high heeled shoes echoing the lovely clip-clop sound - bouncing around the room - that immediately attracting Jackson's attention. He smiled and raised an eyebrow.
The woman was fair-skinned with straight blond hair and of average height. With Jackson towering over her, almost peering down at her, even in her high heels. Her hair was in a ponytail, showcasing her beautifully milk-white perfect complection; it completely flawless. Buisnesslike glasses - completely professional-like - upon her nose and face; covering but not hiding her, brilliantly bright, sky blue eyes.
Futher south her lowcut white blouse showed off her ample cleavage; but tastefully. A tight black skirt of perfect length - showing just the right amount of thigh - covering her tight, perfectly muscular, backside. She obviously must run or bike, by the looks of that prize.
One more thing Jackson could notice right away as she spoke her first words to him; she was from here. She was either born and raised; lived here all her life. Or moved here very young and after a long time had absorbed their unique accent.
He was thunderstruck by her beauty and the simplicity of it; in awe of it.
Jackson finally managed through his dumbfounded smirk.
"Go'mornin' dere madam. What can I do ya fer?"
"Hello kind sir! I come to get some meat, of course!"
She says this barely stifling a laugh and almost reaching her hand to cover her mouth to do so.
Jackson blushes slightly and takes his gaze away from her for just a second.
He returns his eyes upon her, clearing his throat, noticing her still smiling at him. Then he says, "Yessum. What kines and how mucha need of 'em? Did'ya have a list or sumpin, miss?"
"It's actually Doctor," she says as Jackson really blushes dark with embarassment, now.
"Sorry!" They both say at the exact same time and start laughing.
"It's okay... my name's Dr. Bradbury. Doctor Penelope Bradbury. You can call me Penelope, if you'd like?"
"Okay. Penelope," still smiling, starting to quit blushing. "I'm Bernard Jackson. People call me Jackson. Nice ta meet ya, ma'am!"
"Nice to meet you, too. You're just like a big old teddy bear. Aren't you, big fella?"
"Pleasure ta make your aquaintence. Yeah, I s'pose I am."
Man, this girl is pretty. And sweet; and funny. And so sexy.
"So what can I help you wit' this fine mornin'?" He asked her for the second time, just as kind as the first.
"Actually, it's what I can help you with this morning. At least, what I hope I can."
"Hmmm..." he said. "Dat so. Int'restin'... I'm not really..."
"I'm not trying to sell you anything, Mr. Jackson, by any means. If anything, I'm trying to give you something. Many things. What I'm offering is complete cohabitation. Synergy. I ask nothing in return from you, just the promise that you will always, continually, try to improve yourself and your situation."
Jackson pursed his lips thinking, making her think he wasn't going to answer; but then he did.
"Soun's pretty fishy ta me. Gotta be a catch. Dere's always a catch," he narrowed his eyes attempting to read off of her reaction.
"I assure you, no catch. You needn't worry, I'll take care of everything. I'll handle all the details."
"I don't know, I think I may hafta sleep on it t'night, then go from dere."
"Was just about to suggest that anyway. Great minds think alike, Jackson. Now, go wash up and let's step into your office and discuss some of these details."
"Yes ma'am," as Jackson stepped to the sink and lathered up. Then leading her into the office, his giant hand at the small of her soft delicate back.
That night Jackson awoke sweating, not thinking he would ever sleep; but finally he did.
He remembered as he was waking, flashes of his horrible nightmare sweeping across his face.
Just him in a dark room, with images slamming onto giant movie screens; just before fading slowly to black.
The one's he saw and remembered as he jarred awake, he would never forget. Tatooed upon his brain.
Flashing across his vision!
MORTAGE PAYMENT LATE! PAY IN FULL! FINAL NOTICE!!!
And the other:
IMPENDING FORECLOSURE AND EVICTION! 30 DAYS TILL FORCEFUL REMOVAL!!
He shuddered at the thought. He couldn't be thrown out on the streets. And he couldn't go home a failure. He had no choice. He would have to take Dr. Bradbury up on her offer.
Jackson sits on the edge of his bed - feet on the ground - shaking his head, rubbing his temples with his forefingers. Going over it in his mind, while repeating, Why me? over and over again. He knew what he would have to do.
It was his only option.
Having to let Dr. Bradbury do as she wished, going along with her plans and procedures. It's not as though it was to achieve world domination, or anything. Solely just to alleviate the financial stress and burden on Mr. Jackson. He was at her mercy.
Even though it went against every moral fiber of his body. He cringed at the idea.
Then another one crept into his mind. Man, she's really helpin' a brother out. At that thought, Jackson rolled over and somehow found sleep again.
Jackson awoke the next morning, showered, then went on over to the butcher shop; early.
Mrs. Bradbury was already there, waiting for him. She was carrying a box that didn't appear to be too heavy.
"How you doing this morning, Mr. Jackson? I hope you slept well last night. You look pretty tired."
"Mornin' Dr. Bradbury. No, I din't sleep very well las' night. But I s'pose you already knew dat."
She flashes him a wink as he holds the door so she can walk through it with the box.
The doctor carries it around behind the meat display and sets it down. Then starts opening it.
"You sure about this? Really sure?" Jackson asks her one last time, with remorse in his voice.
"Possitive. Don't worry your pretty little head. I got this."
Penelope digs carefully into the box, then sticks into the first piece of meat in the first row of the display. Then the second, then third. Until it is finally done; squeezed dry.
At this point Penelope reaches back into the box and starts the process again, continuing back on the piece of meat where the last had just run out.
Pretty soon the whole case was finished. She was left with a pile of empties and a box that was much lighter, now.
Then Doctor Bradbury picked up the box and headed for the storage locker. Before Jackson knew it, she had the whole box empty - every last drop sqeezed into every last one of his cuts of meat.
So sick to his stomach, Jackson almost threw up.
Soon, but slowly, Jackson starts to notice things changing. Becoming different somehow.
First was the way people were acting. Coming in with much bigger orders and much more often. Some began making multiple trips per day. Many starting to demand meat. Demanding more of it.
Jackson had to start ordering twice as much, then three times. And every morning a new truck arrived, Dr. Bradbury was there too - bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Eager and ready to empty the box into all the freshly delivered meat.
Before Jackson new it, the lines were out the door; every day of the week.
He was very busy keeping the joint going, that that was all he could barely do; keep the joint going.
It was beginning to be too much. He stayed slammed, always.
By the time he finally had to delegate, a tough decision, he was running a truck everyday. So every morning, in turn, there was Dr. Bradbury with her bag of tricks.
"Morning Mr. Jackson. You look well today."
"Mornin' Doctor. Thank ya, Penelope."
Jackson hired three new people that day.
Including the beginning of a managerial staff.
His life was just starting to give a little slack. He could almost feel the tension loosening just a bit. Leaving him able to breathe a little easier. He started to relax a little, too.
Perhaps that was his first mistake.
Bernard Jackson woke up some two and half months later, finding himself the proud owner of three fine butcher shops.
The founder and CEO of all of them and in charge of all their 20 or 30 employees at each one. Most of the employees feared him. Feared for their jobs. For they suspected mischief and foul play afoot.
Jackson supposed he acted tough on the staff sometimes, mostly just cause he was still so tired. He always seemed to be yawning.
Deep down, though, he just really wanted to be liked. Even wished he could find love. Growing tired of living in his new mansion, all alone.
He was a busy man though, running three of the finest butcher shops spread evenly across the city.
Jackson hated to fire employees.
Although, deep down, he also secretly loved it.
It's what keeps him sane. Letting him release all his pent up aggression that he'd been holding inside since the last termination.
Those nights are the nights that Jackson got his best sleep.
Every other night he lays awake, thinking about his life. Wondering if he made a mistake, if karma wasn't tipping to far against him. Jackson could feel the walls starting to close in all around him. His world beginning to cave in, just starting to crumble away.
He wonders if he made a mistake with his life.
He wonders if he would take it all back just to be regular old Bernard Jackson. No more being and running the Cuttin' the Fat CEO conglomerate.
Jackson really starts to panic, wishing he had never laid eyes on that Dr. Bradbury.
Dr. Penelope Bradbury pulls up to Cuttin' the Fat - the original, on the east side of town - stepping out of her Mercedes. Her sleek stockings ravishing, her legs looking killer; as always. Wearing sunglasses today and walking with this superb confidence; her hips snapping back and forth. Shaking and wagging her ass all the way down the street, even with nobody there to watch it or appreciate it. It certainly was a marvelous thing.
She rounded the corner carrying her boxes, still shaking her thing, when she was startled and almost nearly dropped them. That would have been a few hundred dollar boo boo - loosing a lot of the product, just to leak out finding the cracks and dripping down the gutters. She was ready for a vacation.
Her heart slowly started returning to normal, the jitters slowly subsiding.
It was Jackson that had scared her. She had rounded the corner and then there he was. In all his hugeness. Leaning there against the wall, arms crossed, seeming to glare at her.
"Mornin' Doctor. You look well this fine day."
"I was about to say the same to you. Good morning, Mr. Jackson."
"After you, madam."
He followed after her.
Hunkering over her; towering over her small frame.
Not touching the doctor this time. This time keeping his distance.
Dr. Bradbury asked Jackson something or another, here, but he hardly even heard her now.
Jackson followed the doctor into his once quaint, little butcher shop; now not quite the same.
She must have suspected something first, when Jackson didn't answer and was acting strange. Then he followed her behind the counter as she sat her boxes down removing her sunglasses; opening the top box.
"Yessum." He resisted the strong urge to throttle her.
"What is it? Well, spit it out!"
"What have you done ta me, doctor? What have you done ta'all dose innocent people? What have you been puttin' in dere food? Dey were jus' lookin' for a good cut'a meat!"
"Jackson. I'm surprised at you. You're better than this." Still just going about her business grabbing the first hypodermic needle out of the box and preping it to start filling some meat.
"You should be thanking me..." While she reaches to stick the first steak, of many.
"Thanking you..." As he also reaches his arm out, but his instead intercepts the oncoming needle; stabbing deep into his fleshy forearm. Jackson let out a bellowing scream. Then, "I should be cursing you, doctor!"
Just then he rips the needle from his arm, slamming it to the ground, just as he trips over the boxes; spilling them out over the floor. Sending some flying and causing others to break.
Stumbling, putting his hand down to regain his balance, Jackson comes up with a full needle grasped tightly in his hand.
Before he knew what he was doing, he found himself lunging at the doctor with it.
She noticed just in time, falling to the floor - hard - landing on her butt; saving it. Just as Jackson swung, feeling the wind from it.
Picking up a needle of her own, on her way to her feet, she then lunged at him in return.
Doctor Penelope Bradbury had just enough time to think: Man, I wish I hadn't worn heels today. Before - pop - the lights went out. Her sunglasses were sent flying; crashing to the tile in pieces.
Jackson stood there, shivering, still holding the hypodermic needle; but now attached to the end of it was the face of Dr. Bradbury. The needle had pierced her left eye, all the way to the hilt, and punctured into her brain. She began to twitch and gargle as she fell over to lay writhing on the floor.
Then Jackson turned his head and vomitted, uncontrollably, for quite some time. He began to sweat and get really hot; and then cold. He was still shaking from head to toe.
Mrs. Bradbury was just beginning to quit.
Jackson went and got a white cloth and now draped it over the dead doctor. Shedding a few tears as he did so.
Then he walked over to the spilled box of syringes and picked up one more.
He stared at it a moment, spinning it around in his hands, almost seeming like he was trying to read it.
Just then Jackson reached high in the air and plunged the needle deep into his own neck, squeezing every last drop into himself.
He felt his knees start to shake; getting weak. Then his eyes rolled up into his head, showing only the whites. His tongue stuck out and he started to gurgle, just as he began losing all control.
Jackson's legs gave out - dropping him to the floor - twitching next to Doctor Penelope; with the needle still in his neck.
Eventually he stopped breathing and moving, laying face down; remaining perfectly still.
That is how Bernard Jackson died...