“What’ll it be, Suds?” Ken grinned as he wrapped #37’s ground chuck in white paper. “Do you want some shanks?” I’m always shy of Ken at first, because he is so loud and red. But my mom makes me practice saying hello. Today she smiled, nodded and prodded at me. I glared up at her. Ken roared at this and nudged the other aproned men like it was the funniest joke.

When my mom asked for pork tenderloin, Ken the butcher whistled. “What’s the occasion, Suds?” and when he winked again my face turned red, but not as red as his. Mom smiled at me and told Ken about the wake the sirloin would feed. As she talked, I looked at the other people in the meat market. Everyone asks for different meats, some we’ve never ordered. Like London Broil. I don’t know what that is. But it’s fun to see what everyone will be eating this week. The tall man in a dark wool trench ordered skirt steak, the mousy old women asked for two half-pound pork chops. The woman with three scrambling kids ordered six pounds of bologna.

part III