Small Town Rumors

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story about a small town meat market and the people who shop there.

Submitted: March 04, 2019

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Submitted: March 04, 2019

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The years is 1951 and the place is a town called Dominguez, a suburb of Los Angeles, California, USA,

Dominguez used to be farms with a small town stuck dead center of its boundaries. But World War II came and with it came more people. And those people needed housing, so you see, urban sprawl gobbled up most of the farmland by the 1950's.

The 1950's were a time when supermarkets were just getting started in Los Angeles, and if you wanted to shop at one you might have to drive for miles. But if you didn't have a car available then you would walk for a mile or two, ketch the Trolley-car or bus, walk another mile or so, do your shopping, then do the whole trip over again to get home; which was the case with most of the people in this town.

So the people in Dominguez shopped at the local Mom and Pop Market for things like canned goods, spices, sugar, coffee, flour, etc..

You could buy bread from the market too, but many got their fresh bread from the Helms Man. He brought factory baked bread, muffins, and doughnuts to your doorstep, delivered daily.

Milk and dairy products could be delivered by the milkman, and brought from a dairy every morning before sun-up.

And for their meat, those in Dominguez went to the local butcher.

The Dominguez butcher-shop was smack dab in the middle of a block of houses, which was odd even for that day and age; businesses like that were generally found on main streets, not in residential areas. His name was Dennis Graven and as far as the people that lived 'round-about, he was a trusted and a reasonable priced butcher.

 

***

 

"Hello Mrs. Potter. What can I get for you today?" The butcher asked politely.

"I would like two pounds of bacon, sliced thick for breakfast.

I also need some bacon-ends and a ham-hock, my Mother is fix-in beans for the family. But I'm afraid that the beans won't be ready, to her liking, until tomorrow; she cooks them twice, don't you know.

Oh, and do you still have the mixed-meat sausages on sale?"

Dennis looked towards the far end of his cold case and replied, "Yes indeed, I have a few left."

Mrs. Potter smiled and replied, "Fonda Jones said that they were the best she had ever tasted, so give me a half dozen. I'll cook them for our dinner, tonight.

Hmm, maybe corn on the cob and baked potatoes would go nicely. What do you think?"

Dennis didn't hear her. He had walked to the end of the cold case and after taking another look, he stated, "I have seven sausages left, and I'm sure those boys of yours won't have any trouble dividing up the last one. I'll tell you what; I'll toss the seventh one in as a bonus, just because you are such a good customer."

"Gee thanks, Mr. Graven, I'm sure none of it will go to waste around my house," Mrs. Potter said, while sporting a big smile.

 

As Dennis wrapped everything in butcher's paper Mrs. Potter realized that she had no-one else to talk to. Usually she would chit-chat with the Butcher's wife while he was wrapping her purchases, but his wife wasn't there today and Mrs. Potter missed the conversation.

"Is your wife sick? I haven't seen her taking her daily walks lately," Mrs. Potter asked.

Dennis raised his head, looking somewhat surprised, and then stated, "Oh no, she is better than ever. I took her to the Greyhound bus terminal last month; she has gone to visit her sister in Arizona.

Her sister broke her leg and she can't get around very well without help. So the misses is going to stay with her for awhile, just to help out. She should be home by Christmas."

And with that said Dennis bagged the purchases and placed the bag in the Radio-Flier Red Wagon that Mrs. Potter had brought along to carry her purchases in; it was a lot easier pulling her son's wagon home that lugging heavy bags in her arms.

Then Dennis went to the cash-register and stated, "There you go, Mrs. Potter, two pounds of bacon, one stewing-pot sized ham-hock, a fist-full of bacon-ends, and the sausages. Will that be all?"

Mrs. Potter thought for a moment and replied, “I have the feeling I'm forgetting something, but I can't quite..."

At that moment Mrs. Potter's sentence was cut off by the sound of a dog barking, it was her dog and it was just outside the butcher's door.

Dennis smiled as Mrs. Potter said, "Oh, that's it! I need a weekly supply of your new dog food, the ones in the jars. --- What are they called again?"

"I call them, Doggy Stew," Dennis stated, "Every month I make a batch of mixed meats, assorted vegetables, bone-marrow, and eggs from my chickens. It is healthy and far fresher than the dog-food you get at the markets. And besides, it costs less than the store stuff if you bring the jars back.

I used to sell it to Dog Breeders, only, but I've had such a demand for it lately I've had to increase my production."

"I can see why," Mrs. Potter said, "Our dog loves the stuff.

She seems friskier than usual and her coat looks so much better after eating it for a month."

"Shall I put this on your tab Mrs. Potter, or will it be cash today?" Dennis asked.

"On the tab, please. My husband gets paid today so I'll send him to settle up after he goes to the bank," Mrs. Potter replied.

Then she added, "Oh, and I'll ask my husband to return last week’s jars when he comes. If I bring them in the wagon then I have a half-dozen dogs chasing me by the time I reach your store; and believe me, more than one dog at a time scares me.

Dennis Graven smiled and shook his head in agreement.

 

***

 

How fast time slips away. Almost a year has passed and Jorge Hawkins has come to the butcher's shop to load up on dog food.

But the shop is closed and cops are mulling around on the inside of the building. Besides that, there is another cop standing outside the door.

"What's going on, Sam?" Jorge asked the cop at the door, then he continued with, "And how is that Cocker I sold you."

"Oh, she is as good as gold, best bird dog I've ever had," the cop replied.

"So what's going on, Sam, did Dennis Graven cut his hand off or something?" Jorge asked while trying not to laugh.

The cop-side of Sam was not in the mood for humor; Jorge could see that when Sam replied, "We are here about the meat. We got a tip that something was in the meat that isn't supposed to be"

Jorge was not happy, so he said, "Well hells-bells, I got hungry dogs at my kennel and they turn up their nose at everything except for Dennis's Doggy Stew. Do you think I could leave money in the register and take some jars for the dogs?"

Sam replied, "I'm afraid not, Jorge. And I'd look for another dog food supplier just to play it safe.

I doubt that Dennis Graven is going to make any more of that stuff, even if they don't charge him with anything except for selling horse meat."

Jorge put a frown on his face and stated, "Oh come on now, Maybe Dennis bought a dead horse now and then. You know, the ones with broken legs and bullets in their skulls.

And maybe he bought a dead goat of sheep that got hit by a car, using perfectly good meat for animal consumption shouldn't be a crime, even horse meat. That's better than wasting it in a glue factory."

"Those decisions aren't up to me or you, Jorge," the cop replied.

So Jorge got in his truck and drove away, a very unhappy man.

 

***

News travels fast around small towns, and Dominguez is no different. 

It seems that the police had found a farmer that testified that he had sold Dennis Graven dead horses, on two occasions. One died of age related causes and the other had broken its leg and was shot.

He also stated that he received Dennis's name from other farmers who had done the same.

So Dennis pleaded "No-Contest" and paid a fine. Plus, he lost his butcher's license for using horse meat in his dog food.

And that story about Mr. Graven's wife going to her sisters place in Arizona. Well, it turns out that Mrs. Graven didn't have a sister, in fact, she has no known family because she was raised in an orphanage."

Dennis Graven changed his story when the police asked about her whereabouts. He said that she ran off with some other guy and he was too embarrass to tell the neighbors; so he just made up the Arizona story to save face.

 

(Weeks later)

The neighbors have heard that Dennis Graven was released for lack of evidence regarding his wife's disappearance. Some think that she did run off with another man, others are not so sure.

Yes, Dennis Graven paid the price for putting horse meat in the dog food.

Actually, some neighbors think it was just horse meat mixed in, but some are saying that it was mixed with Mrs. Graven, bones and all. And they are hinting that this mix was in the hamburger and sausages too.

But no-one can prove a thing, can they, for only the butcher, the meat grinder, and bone crusher knows for sure.

 

Whatever the case, you have the assurance that the Body of this story is true. After all, who would want to Cook Up a story like this?

 

 

D. Thurmond / JEF

03-01-2019


© Copyright 2020 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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