The jangling sound of keys are attached to a huge man towering above me. The keys are rusty…or covered in blood…I can't tell. As the key man goes to turn, the metal wad of his keys strikes the chipped, painted guardrail making a sound just like a clear ringside bell--DING! Wide-eyed, I poke my head through the bars, and with a wail, grunt, and wet thump, the key man announces, “Welcome to the kill floor.”
One after another, the bloody, lumpy bodies hit the floor like Liston in the ring with Ali. As we walk past them, the smell of my aunt's perfume hangs thick around my face along with hair, blood, and dead cow. I look downward into their large brown beautiful, confused dead eyes as the killing floor men wade through blood and bone. Piece by piece, the flesh is torn and cut from the animal with no emotion, "it's a job. We make food for the masses and without us you'd starve" the key man explains.
Me, my sister, my mom, and dad, two cousins, my aunt and uncle…all of us traipse through the killing machine wearing pollster pant suits, Hippie fringed jackets and looks of disgust and horror.
As we continue over the iron-slotted catwalk, the key man points southeast over the rail and shouts, “Over here is where we sweep up the floor up with all the extra parts -- nothing goes to waste here.” My sister pipes up, putting her hand to the side of her face, shielding her eyes from the devastation below, “Why did we decide to take a tour of a meat processing plant?”
It is cold, freezing, as we walk through the wide-awake nightmare of the killing machine. We see the processing and packaging and we plod with audible gasps and disbelief. This meat is what we eat on a daily basis.
At six years old, I didn't understand what was happening and couldn't see the bloody butchery as more than a strange stage production starring angels of death.
As we reach the end of the tour, I can smell uncooked hot dogs. Sure enough, we walk into a room, and there floating way above my head are thousands of hot dogs hanging from the ceiling. The key man asks, "Anyone hungry?"
“Anyone want a hot dog?"
" I do," I say. I was super hungry.
The key man reaches up into what seems like heaven, his hand disappearing into the bright blue-greenish light and gives me a hotdog.
"Here you go young man, How does that taste?"
As I bite into the pale flesh again, I hear my sister wretch, turn and run from the room.