Meat Tenderizer

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

The leading short story in a short story horror book due out early 2016. The series is climatic, with each story getting more horrific and gory. Meat Tenderizer is just a small taste of horror that welcomes ready and allows them to a small view of what will be coming out in the collection. Thank you for reading.

Meat Tenderizer

S.E. Johnson

“Mrs. Hexell?” Sheriff Brown knocked on the door of the dilapidated, dirty farm house.  Although there were several dirt and gravel roads that branched off the main roads, this road was particularly long and winding.  The white siding, once bright and complete, was now dull and falling apart.  There were several pens holding various animals: cows, goats, pigs and chickens running around the yard.  “Mrs. Hexell?” He raised his voice as he peered into the screen door.  “Mrs. Hexell, your front door is open.”  He looked back at Deputy Olotte as he shook his head and slowly grinned, “She must be in the cellar or sleeping.  It’s too damn hot to keep standing here and this dust is about to drive me insane.”  The Sheriff took off his oversized hat and began fanning his face.  Tennessee heat was bad, but the fact that it was mid-July made it even worse. 

“Sheriff Brown?” A small voice rang from the other side of the screen door.  “I just barely heard you.  Please do come in.” Mrs. Hexell smiled as the two men walked past her and into the living room. 

Helen Hexell, who was on the verge of turning 77, was a longtime resident of Tartonville, Tennessee, small-town USA with a population of four hundred and seventy two.  She was exactly five foot five and a one half inches with pure white hair, a very kind face and a gentle soul.  Time had been good to her and allowed her to keep her smooth, sun kissed, skin, mostly wrinkle free and her eyes, partially hidden behind glasses, appeared to remain sharp but soft at the same time.

“Mrs. Hexell,” Sheriff Brown continued,” I wanted to stop by and introduce you to our new deputy, Deputy Olotte.  He will be taking over the night shift beginning tomorrow, so I wanted to make sure you knew about him before you started seeing him driving around.”

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Hexell,” Deputy Olotte tipped his hat.

“Afternoon, Deputy,” Mrs. Hexell wiped her hands on her stained, white apron and shook hands with the new deputy. 

“Pleasure to meet you, ma’am.  You ever have issues out here?” Olotte went into detective mode.

“Now, Olotte,” Sheriff Brown laughed, “we’re just here to introduce you to the elderly of the town.” He looked back at Mrs. Hexell, “not that you need lookin’ after, ma’am.  We just want to make sure that everyone is aware of the new deputy on duty.”

“I was born in this house and lived here with my family until forty six years ago,” her voice trailed off.  “Tartonville hasn’t changed much in that time.” She give a hint of a grin before looking at the sheriff and then back to the deputy.  “You might oughta be more concerned about being the new face in town.”

“Well, we’ve got more houses to stop at, Mrs. Hexell.  If you need anything just give us a call.” The sheriff tipped his hat as the men loaded back up in the car.


The rest of the afternoon was spent visiting the elderly community of Tartonville, none of which grabbed the attention of the new deputy like Mrs. Hexell.  Back at the station, the veteran and the new recruit sat at the big wooden desk located at the entrance of the small jail. 

“Sheriff,” Deputy Olotte sat his hat down on the desk and began rubbing his forehead.  “What is the story with that little old lady?  The one with all the animals on that long gravel road?”

“Helen Hexell is a very sweet, old lady that’s seen her fair share of heartache.  Her husband died at the hands of one of our own, the sheriff before me.  Their son, their only child, Hubert, was known for drinking and causing a ruckus and the sheriff was tired of dealing with his shenanigans.  So, he went out to arrest him and the kid pulled a gun on the sheriff and the sheriff shot him.  Then, alerted by the gunshots, Mr. Hexell came out and began firing as well.  Sheriff killed them both.  Poor Helen was left alone to run that farm.  The whole town has tried to help her out but she won’t accept any help.  She blames the sheriff for taking away her family.” Sheriff’s lips tightened up as he thought about it, “can’t say I blame her, either.  But, she’s a good citizen.  She pays taxes on anything she sells and she goes to church every Sunday.”

“Did you know Hubert?” The deputy walked over and poured himself a cup of coffee. 

“I sure did.  I went to school with him.  Hell, I was out drinking with him the night it happened.  I went home and went to bed and the next morning my mom woke me up with the news.  It was a sad situation and even sadder the first time I saw Mrs. Hexell after the funerals.” Cutting his eyes over at the new recruit, “just watch yourself, son.  It’s a small, friendly town, but we have a past like any other small town.  Any closet you try to open will have plenty of skeletons to fall out, so use caution.”

“Yes, sir.”

They finished their coffees and called it a night.  After walking out to their cars, Sheriff Brown walked over and tapped on Olotte’s window.

“Yeah?” Deputy rolled it down for the sheriff.

“Just as a word of caution and as a courtesy to myself, steer clear of Helen Hexell and the Hexell farm.  Hell, just avoid her road all together.  If she needs us, she will call.”

With that, the men parted ways with the mutual understanding that Helen Hexell and anything associated with her was off limits. 





Months went by and the hot, Tennessee summer turned into a cold and frosty winter. The deputy had done his job according to the law and avoided the Hexell farm the way the sheriff had requested of him.  Although he had avoided going out there, or even speaking to her on the rare occasion that he saw her in town, it was impossible to ignore the volume of traffic that was seen turning down her road.  Understandably, farm trucks and such would be frequenting out there, but there were expensive cars bosting out of state tags that make monthly, even weekly, visits to the farm.  Curiosity got the best of him and randomly he would ask merchants and random citizens in town what was going on, but they would just smile and go about their day.  It was as if everyone knew something was up, but no one wanted to talk about it.  Or maybe they couldn’t? 

Eventually, it became too much for the deputy and he devised a plan to sneak out into the night and get a firsthand account as to what was going on in that little white farm house.  So, on his night off he waited for a black, fancy car with out of state plates to leave.  It was around midnight when Olotte, dressed all in dark clothing and a dark mask, made the long journey down the road and up to the house.  The animals were all tucked away into the various barns on the farm, so there were no noises to worry about.  Lights lit up the inside of the house and as he got closer, Olotte could see Mrs. Hexell moving about what he guessed was the kitchen.  Mrs. Hexell, who was wearing a white apron stained with blood, appeared to be working on some sort of beef or pork chops on the counter. 

As she left the room, he got closer to the window and peered in to get a better look.  The sink was full of water, pinked with blood, and had various pieces of raw meat floating around in it.  Nothing unusual there.

Oh my God! Olotte had to look again at the ear floating in the sink. Without a doubt, that ear once belonged to a human.  Immediately, he turned to go radio the Sheriff, when he felt a sharp pain at the back of his head that took him to the ground.  As he fell to the ground and began to lose consciousness, he got a faint glimpse as Mrs. Hexell standing over him, holding a cast iron frying pan.  Then, everything turned to black.



“He was on my property, Sheriff,” Mrs. Hexell stated mater-of-factly.

Olotte heard these words, but he was not able to open his eyes.  He was now sitting in what appeared to be a wooden chair with his hands tied or taped down, and he could not feel his legs at all.  There was ringing in his right ear and his head was throbbing from what he guess was a blow to the head with that pan. 

“We’ve been through this before, Mrs. Hexell, you can’t keep doing this.  We let you run your farm the way you choose, we ask you no questions, but you cannot keep taking my deputies away.  The state is starting to ask questions.” Sheriff was upset, even so he spoke softly to the old widow.

“Then keep them off of my property!”

Slowly, Olotte was able to open one eye and partially open the other.  He found himself in what appeared to be an old, unfinished basement.  Boxes and bags filled over the half the room, which boasted a dirty floor that looked like tile covered in a layer of dirt.  His vision was doubled and the ringing in his ear was accompanied by shooting pains.

“Look who decided to join the party,” Mrs. Hexell pushed her glasses up her nose.

“Can’t follow simple instructions, can you, son?” Sheriff Brown looked over at Deputy Olotte.  “I tried to warn you.”

“Helllll,” Olotte was trying to ask for help but nothing would come out. It was almost as if everything was in slow motion and he was watching life play out before his eyes.  His head was getting very heavy and before he knew it he was out again. 




Olotte slowly began to wake up and look around, as his eyes regained the ability to focus.  The room was dim and Mrs. Hexell was nowhere to be seen.  The pain through his legs and feet was excruciating and his head was still pounding, but he continued to look around the room.  Along one wall were various size buckets, all containing pinkish red water and chunks of various meat cuts bobbing around.  It was when he saw a jar sitting on the counter that he realized what was happening.  The jar, which looked to formally house pickles, was stuffed full of what appeared to be various fingers and toes. 

For a moment, the room began to spin as Olotte tried not to lose what little food he had in his stomach.  Unfortunately, his sense of smell was starting to return and all he could smell was fresh blood and flesh, just an overabundance of death lingering in the air.  As pain shot through this feet, he continued to look around the room, but before he could take in much more, company arrived.

“You were out for almost three hours,” Mrs. Hexell came in carrying a large pot, which she sat down on the counter. 

“Why?” It’s all that he could get out of his mouth. 

“Why?” Mrs. Hexell stood up and walked over to Olotte.  “You were in my business.  You were on my property, sneakin’ around like a thief or a robber or… something like that.  Don’t think I hadn’t noticed you poking your nose around in my business.  Some of my best paying customers were starting to get nervous.  You cost me three jobs last week.”

“Jobs?” Olotte was feeling a bit more strength build up in his body, but he was still feeling shitty. 

“Well,” she pulled a chair up and sat down across from the deputy.  “It’s really none of your business, but it gets lonely out here so I reckon I can spare a moment.”

“I never meant any harm, Mrs. Hexell.”

“It’s too late.  You’ve seen and heard too much.  I’m sure the sheriff has already let you in on the fact that my family was murdered by them?”

“I’m,” he took a minute to get in a deep breath and allow the loud ringing in his ear to subside.  “I’m very sorry about that, ma’am.”

“Well,” she stood up and began to walk around the room.  “That was many years ago.  I had to find an income since there was no way I could pay for help to do the job that my husband and son had be doing.  Late one afternoon, I got an unexpected visit from one of Mr. Hexell’s old business partners.  He was tellin’ me about some work that I could do.  That’s when it started.”


“My work.” Mrs. Hexell sat back down.  “Apparently there’s a big need for um, disposers.”


“Yep.  When an undesirable is well, relieved of his duties of being a living being, then something has to be down about what he, um, leaves behind.” She was now sitting on the edge of her chair, like a kid waiting to open their gifts on Christmas morning.  For the first time since he met her, Mrs. Helen looked so young and refreshed.  Deputy Olotte could have sworn he saw a slight twinkle in her eye. 

“What, exactly, do you mean?”

“They take care of the issue, the undesirable, initially and I help rid the world of any evidence that he or she ever lived.  I go to church every Sunday and keep my taxes paid up. I am a good person.”

Deputy Olotte was so confused.  He was hearing everything that she was saying, but he had no idea what she meant.  The pain in his head was slowly subsiding, but the pain in his legs would not ease up. 

“I didn’t chose to be a widow and to lose a son at such a young age, but when things like that happen you have to figure out a way to go on and to provide for yourself.” Mrs. Hexell looked down at the floor and now, she looked very sad.  Her eyes held a large amount of hurt.  “You don’t seem to be married or have children.”

“No, I do not.” Olotte squinted his eyes as the pain in his legs started to peak once more.  Born and raised in the city, Olotte came from a long line of police officers and military men that dedicated their lives to serve.  Marriage was never a big deal to him and he was not particularly fond of children.  He was living the life of a bachelor and up until this point, it was going pretty good. 

“They bring them in… they pay me… I get rid of the undesirables.” Mrs. Hexell stood, walked over to the corner cabinet and after a few minutes of shuffling around pulled out a glass jar.  Standing back in front of him, she shook the jar.  “Every undesirable that I’ve had in here has left their… mark, if you will.”

She shook the jar again and then held it still so he could get a good view of the contents.  Teeth!  There were teeth in the jar!  What in the hell was this woman doing, and what was she planning on doing to him?  Just then a low rumble shook the entire basement. 

“That’s a client, I’ll be right back.” She slowly walked up the stairs. 

It seems like an eternity before she returned, although it was probably more like an hour or so.  As she began to descend the stairs, there was a very loud thud with every stair she climbed down.  He saw the object making the noise was a very large, bulky, black bag.  It was a strange sort of bag, not plastic but not exactly cloth, either.  She dragged it across the floor and to the other side of the room.  As she untied the bag, he saw what appeared to be various body parts poking out: a foot, an elbow, part of a nose and a hand.  The smell of blood and flesh overtook Olotte.  It was at that moment that he lost consciousness.




“Wake up, Deputy.” A voice shouted in his ear.  “For a cop you sure do pass out a lot.” Groggy, Deputy Olotte opened his eyes and peered up at Mrs. Hexell, who was holding a small hatchet.  Her apron was covered in fresh blood and her face and arms were covered in small specks of blood.  “I’m almost done with this one.” She held up the remnants of a femur, which she immediately put in the feed grinder.  With some effort, she got the gear to turn and the femur was reduced to ashes and small pieces. 

“What are you going to do with it, now?” Olotte was dry heaving as he got the words out.  The blood and smell of human remains were too much.  Sure he had gone through the classes that taught him about this and he had even had the bad luck to find a few bodies while on patrol, but nothing could ever prepare him for what he was experiencing now. 

“See that tote?” She pointed toward the stairs.  “That is what is left of a drug dealer that gave drugs to one of my clients teenage sons.  The boy was hospitalized and nearly died.  So, he took care of the problem and I am helping him take care of the rest.” She walked over to the stairs and connected a hook to a rope that was tied securely around the large tote.  Then, she walked up the stairs and turned on a hitch that slowly pulled the tote up the stairs.  “Now,” she sat back down in front of Olotte, “it’s time to dispose of this poor excuse for a human.”

“Where are you taking him?”

“Where he belongs.  With the pigs.” She took her glasses off, using the hem of her dress to wipe the blood splatters off of them.  “I’m getting too old to be messing with the dead ones, much less the live ones like yourself that can’t mind their own business.  The pigs haven’t eaten today and with my secret ingredient they’ll have him all gone by sunrise.”

“What’s that?  The secret?”

“Meat tenderizer.” She placed her glasses back on her face and stood up.  “It’s a powder that helps to break down the meat.” She walked over to the cabinet and pulled out a gun.  “Now, I’m gonna untie you and you’re gonna help me get that tote out to the barn, got it?”

“I honestly don’t think I can walk,” Olotte looked down at his feet.  “I’m in a lot of pain, especially in my feet and legs.”

“Well that can be expected when you’re dragged down the stairs by your arms.  Not to mention I took a little souvenir.” With that, she held up a clear baggy that contained three toes, assorted sizes. 

“What the hell?!” He began to dry heave again, but this time it turned into an actual production of vomit, one of potatoes and ham, his supper.  “How in the hell am I supposed to walk if you cut off my damn toes?” 

“I only took three,” she waved the baggy again, but this time she dropped it in his lap.  “Here, you can have them back.  Now, I’m going to undo you and you’re going to walk up those steps and help me with this tote.”

Deputy Olotte waited for the elderly lady to untie him and then he limped to the stairs, slowly making his ascend up the steps one at a time.  After reaching the top, he pulled the heavy tote through the kitchen and into the back door.  Mrs. Hexell followed behind with her gun steadily pointed at him, and he knew that if she had the slightest inkling that he was wanting to run off, she would shoot no questions asked.  The cold chill of the night hit Olotte right in the face as he opened the door and it was exactly what he needed.  The rancid smells of the basement had filled his nostrils, and it was a smell that he could not shake. 

His feet were burning with every step, but he had to push through the pain in order to stay alive.  Mrs. Hexell began talking baby talk to the pigs in the smelly, old barn.  A long wire held up four raw light bulbs that were ran from one side of the barn to the other.  The pigs were noisy and very stinky.  They squealed with delight as Mrs. Hexell walked up to the fence with a large coffee can full of… leftovers, human leftovers, and within a few seconds of dumping the can it was gone.  Every piece of flesh, every piece of bone and any other fiber of that man’s body was gone. 

“Here,” she tossed the bucket over to Olotte, who then scooped up more of the leftovers and dumped them over the fence to the pigs.  They quickly devoured everything that was given to them and soon the tote was empty.  “Now, let’s get back in the house.” As she turned to pick up the end of the tote, Olotte quietly slipped away.

At first, the pains shot up through his feet and into his legs, but eventually his adrenaline kicked in and was able to run a slow run toward the woods at the front of the house.  Mrs. Hexell watched him run but was unable to get a clear shot in the dark.  She didn’t want to alert anyone around and a gunshot would do just that.  He knew that he had to get out of Tartonville, so he headed toward the only highway that ran through town and ended up hitchhiking a ride out of town.




Two weeks later

After getting to safety, Olotte found a hospital and was immediately admitted.  They could not do anything for his wounds, other than stitch them up, and they got him back to health.  Mentally, he was a wreck.  Every noise and every strong smell took him back to that little farm house. Once the hospital had done everything they could, it was time for him to move on, and that’s what happened.  The doctors and nurses prepared him for his move to a facility that would continue treating his injuries but would also begin to nurse his mind.

“Mr. Olotte, we’re here to take you to your new facility.” The ambulance driver helped get the deputy’s gurney loaded.  The hospital staff wished him well and left him in the care of his new staff.  After he was securely loaded, they departed.  The ride was going smoothly and the pain meds were doing their job, until the ambulance took a sudden turn onto a bumpy, gravel road. 

Within a matter of minutes, they had come to a stop and he could hear another vehicle approach the rear doors.  The door flew open and there stood two men dressed all in dark clothing and Mrs. Helen Hexell.  The men entered the ambulance, grabbed Olotte by the arms and carried him to the backseat of the car. 

Fear overtook him and he was unable to speak, other than mumble a few words.  The men placed him in the backseat and then sat on either side so he could not get out.  Mrs. Hexell handed the ambulance crew an envelope, payment for delivery no doubt, then she turned around and walk toward the car. 

“Hello, Deputy,” she got in the front seat, put on her seatbelt and pulled back onto the gravel road.  “We are going to have so much fun tonight.” And with that they headed toward the farm and to a destiny that most could only imagine, in their worst nightmares. 






Two weeks ago, the Tartonville County Sheriff Office was alerted of a report filed in a nearby county by a former Deputy.  The report made claims of murder and torture at the farm house of Mrs. Helen Hexell, lifelong Tartonville resident.  We at the Sheriff’s office do not take these claims lightly, so a full and immediate investigation was opened with full cooperation from Mrs. Hexell.  We are concluding that no evidence of any of the alleged, illegal activity was found.  The Tartonville County Sheriff’s office would like to extend its gratitude to Mrs. Hexell for allowing us to investigate as well as our apologies for any hardships this may have caused. 

Submitted: December 22, 2015

© Copyright 2022 Liza Jaye. All rights reserved.

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