The last sandwich was eaten by a truck-driver from Bridlington. He looked happy when he ate it. Papa Pete was happy to cook it for him. He took his time, savoring every bit of spitting fat. It was nearly charred black by the time he finished. Once the trucker had left Pete closed the door and turned the sign towards home.
"We're done. We nearly had it but we're done". Papa Pete kept repeating himself. They had nearly been a success. The best meat sandwiches this side of Accrington. Now the meat had run out. The pigs were starved. The chickens were rotting. The cattle were senile. They had had a good run. It was almost sad to say they’d done better than most.
Pete walked to the toilet. It had been buggered for weeks. The water was in a constant state of flush. He sat down took a shit and stood up. There was nothing there. The water had washed it away the second it’d landed. Pete went back into the living room and sat down again.
There was going to be awards and accolades, high-class affairs and a wife that stood by him for the sandwiches. Now there was a clock and The Sound of Silence playing from a radio next door.
He’d wanted to do something different than building the heads for dolls in the factory like all the sad twats he’d gone to school with. The thought of thousands of their little heads made him make sandwiches for sixteen hours a day. That and the fact that he loved meat sandwiches and sometimes fantasized about the world eating itself to death. For years he’d built the business up. He pictured his first runs into the country to steal the filling for the first sandwiches. Drive had allowed him to get away with it, that and the farmers who were too old to do much about it. Pete always thought the farmers would run out before their animals. Maybe the farmers wanted to take the poor creatures down with them. Maybe you could catch old age. Tradition traditionally ends in the end.
Pete sat watching the time pass and searched for a solution. There was nothing he hated more than wasted effort. Was anything really wasted? Even taking a drag of a cig gone out tells you to light it again. There was nothing to go back to anyway. He looked at his daughter's toy box. Her action man was missing a limb but she still played with it. I reckon I could take every limb off that little bastard and she’d still play with it. His head turned and he gazed upwards. A rush came to his whole body. He stood up and called some who could help. He called Diamond Dave. Dave was the sort of person you could say anything to and he wouldn’t care. A reliable nutter. That’s what Eastvale had done to him. It was after one a.m. but Dave never slept.
"Come round. Bring your saw. We can save it".
Pete undressed and started pacing round the room. Half an hour later Dave walked in round the back. Papa was in his boxers. They looked at each other.
"Tha hell you doing Pap? I thought you had some meat"
Dave looked at his shaved legs and thick flesh. He knew. Pete got on his workbench and took out a stolen bottle of whisky. He drank it all in three gulps and waited for the effect. Ten minutes went by and Pete could hardly see or talk.
Pete put his leg out. Dave raised the saw. They both knew tomorrow would be a busy day.
Pete didn’t even scream when the saw dragged his leg off. He hadn’t thought of how to cauterize the wound so Dave chained a pack of twenty and singed the butts into it. Somehow it worked and still Pete didn’t scream.
"What happens when there’s nothing left of you?"
"Nothing lasts forever apart from Diamond Daves’"
Dave laughed and put down the saw.
Pete came into work the next day in a wheelchair with a smile on his face. The word on the street that somewhere had meat spread like lard. The queue stretched across the road. He cooked steaks and smelled his seared flesh. The crowd loved it. At the end of the day he shut the sign and looked at his shop and the mess of success. He was a big man and the joint was only a quarter gone. He was gonna go out rolling.
The prognosis him and Diamond had come up with was three months. Every few weeks they went back to the workbench at midnight. Pete drank whisky and Dave smoked a full pack. The legs went first then the arms. Things got more difficult after that. Five months went by and Pete held on cooking with his teeth.
It had been a damn good five months. Better than they or Jesus or anyone could have imagined. The story had made Pete famous and turned him into an entrepreneurial hero. Things had happened for him overnight. Someone had watched him wheel himself home and put two and two together. His home was flooded by fame. He had to buy a new bed. There was even talk of a feature film Dead animals and the Die Hard Cannibals-The Story of How a Chef Refused to Give in to Death.
The tickets for his last day of business sold out within five minutes. He struggled throughout the day with each bit of flesh but refused help. Every sandwich was a labor of deep devotion for the game and everything he held dear.
The last sandwich Papa Pete ever made was eaten by his daughter. He’d wanted her to have it. Tears ran down her face with every bite, as there had been when he’d cooked it. He watched her beautiful head. Hers was the only one left. The thousands in the schools and farms and factories were no more. When she finished the ambulance took him away and the banks moved in on the shop like rats. She grabbed her action man and held him tight. There was hardly anything of it left but she loved him ‘til this stupid story came to its’ end and I finally went to bed.