When that familiar cool, winter
chill first hit the air, I began to dread each approaching day. The same joyous
holiday season that so many
people cherished, brought me nothing but stress and anguish. I felt this way
not because of some repressed
childhood memories. Nor for the selfish
reason of not wanting to be alone. Nor
even for the sheer fact that Christmas has morphed into a globally
commercialized commodity with its true meaning diminished by corporate retailers
and big businesses. The sole reason I so
loathed the holiday season was a grossly obese, megalomaniac named Charles
Angus. You see, for the last eight
years, I’d toiled and grown listless in the packaging department of Mr. Angus’s
company, Edge Culinary Supply.
My career started off promising
enough; being young and eager, I joined the sales department four years
earlier. I actually enjoyed traveling
and meeting the different vendors and restauranteurs who purchased Mr. Angus’s
knives and other commercial kitchen utensils.
I made a lot of good contacts during this time and was quite successful.
Often, I reminisced about my many accomplishments
and had fond memories of how Mr. Angus doted on me. He knew he needed
charming hustlers like
myself to grow his business. I mean, you
couldn’t have put his fat ass in front of people to make a sales pitch. He
barely fit into a suit. His breath smelled like a buffalo’s ass. And he sweated like a whore in church. Who
in the holy hell would buy anything from
Anyway, like I was saying,
sure didn’t hesitate to let me know how important I was to the organization.
“I can’t thank
Phil. Closing that deal with the guys
from that hibachi chain, Nokuru, is going to earn our company a robust
profit. We were really in trouble there
for a while. I didn’t know if we were
even going to make payroll. But that
order of knives and cleavers will put us comfortably into the upcoming
year. There’s definitely going to be a handsome
bonus in it for you, Phil. You’ve earned
it. We wouldn’t be in business without
you. You’re the best at what you
do. Keep up the good work.”
Those words were so true. I had earned it. And I was the best. However, as is often the case in life,
eventually every wave hits the beach.
And when my wave hit, it sure crashed hard.
I first noticed a change in
Angus as his culinary supply company began to really expand and grow. Most of
this new growth and success came his
way thanks to the advent of the internet and online commerce. Angus was shrewd
and savvy enough to pay some
tech kid still in college to develop a website for him. As soon as the damn
thing went live, the
orders started pouring in. Each morning
when we would open, a list of orders would be waiting to be filled from the
night before. While the majority of
these orders were domestic, a great deal also came from the international
marketplace. With that said, all this
instant success meant two things: first,
Angus became obsessed with power and control, and second, my days as a top
producing sales rep were virtually over.
I struggled to keep what few
clients I still had. But it was useless.
Slowly but surely, every last one of them
walked away from me and began to do business strictly online. I really couldn’t
blame them either. Why waste your time and money going out to
dinner and ball games with a sales guy when you could just click a button and
get all your materials shipped out overnight?
No, I didn’t blame them at all.
What really burned my ass
the way Angus gloated and taunted me, like a cat playing with its captured prey
before putting the poor creature out of its misery. I still remember the day
that fat bastard
waddled over to my desk and gave me his ultimatum.
“Well, well, well. Hello, Phil.
I have to tell you that your sales numbers are absolutely awful. I should
really just get rid of you. You’re dead weight around here. You used to be my leading man. What happened to you? Oh wait a minute. That’s right.
I remember now. I discovered a
way to increase my sales without having to pay your bloated commission checks.
Now I don’t have to throw my money at young hot shots like you anymore. But
don’t you worry. I’m not going to fire you, Phil. No.
We’ve known each other way too long for that. Just to show you
that my heart is in the
right place, I’m going to keep you on, buddy.
After all, with all the products I’m sending out, someone has to pack
the orders for shipment. You do think
you can handle that, right, Phil? If
not, there’s the door. And good luck
trying to get another sales job. No
company is going to hire someone with numbers as dismal as yours. And don’t
even think about applying for
unemployment. You won’t qualify because
I offered you another position you turned down.
You’re in a tight spot, Phil, with that big mortgage payment and your
ex-wife’s alimony and child support.
What a shame. So, what’s it going
Yeah. What’s it going to be? As if I had a fucking choice
matter. I swear I could have killed that
fat tub of shit right then and there. I
wanted to wrap my hands around his gelatinous neck and squeeze until his
eyeballs popped out of his skull. But I
couldn’t. The fact of the matter was
Angus was right. I had no other
options. I had to take his offer. He
had me by the balls. So, that following Monday, I started packing
his boxes. Knife after knife. Cleaver
after cleaver. Carving fork after carving fork.
The orders never stopped. Just as I’d get done with one huge shipment,
an even bigger one would be waiting to be filled. That’s how it remained
for me. Twelve hours a day. Six
days a week. I labored in misery for the last eight
And I wasn’t the only
had to deal with Angus’s shit. Not a
single one of us in the company respected the man. He had disrespected and degraded
all of us,
on multiple occasions. But as bad as the
men had it, female employees had it even worse.
Jennie Ortiz reported directly
to Angus himself. She was his personal
secretary. Jennie had to deal with one
hardship after another in her life.
She’d ended up marrying her high school sweetheart, Roberto, and had
quickly given birth to two children, Roberto Jr. and Lucinda. Roberto Jr. was
older by a year. His little sister had followed him around
like a puppy. How she’d idealized her
big brother. They’d really been a
tight-knit family. Roberto Sr. had been
a proud and well-respected family man, especially since he’d been in the
military. After Roberto Sr.’s deployment
to Afghanistan in 2004, Jennie had done her best to make ends meet. She’d
ended up at Edge on a temporary assignment for the holiday season right after
Thanksgiving. She hadn’t even been with
us for two weeks when she’d received a knock on her door late one night. Little
Roberto Jr. was wearing his daddy’s
“Class-B” uniform shirt, and answered the door to see a major from the US Army
along with their priest Father Guillermo.
Roberto Sr. had been killed when the half-track he was riding in struck
a land mine and exploded.
Jennie had tried her best
keep her family together after the tragedy.
She’d put her faith in God and kept relying on her strong Christian
values. But as hard as she’d tried to
stay positive for her children, the pressures had proved too much for little
Roberto Jr. He’d started hanging around
the wrong crowd. By the age of 14, he
had already been arrested three times and had a record including shoplifting,
robbery, and assault. He’d been using
drugs and constantly getting into fights.
His reckless behavior had earned him a suspension from school on
numerous occasions. One of his older thug
friends had given him a fake gun
and dared him to hold up the clerk at a local bodega in order to score some
quick cash. Always willing to show off
his bravado, Roberto Jr. had jumped at the opportunity. When he’d pointed
his gun at the cashier and demanded money, the man behind the counter
had pulled out his own gun and shot Roberto Jr. one time in the chest, killing
After the funeral, Jennie
really shut down. She’d lost all of her
optimism and youthful energy. She’d
aged. Understandably, she’d fallen into
a state of depression and had all but abandoned her faith. I swear the only
reason she got up in the
morning and continued to live was for the sake of her daughter Lucinda. That
little girl needed her mommy now more
than ever. So, Jennie did what she had
to do to survive and provide for the only family she had left.
Angus knew Jennie was desperate
and was more than happy to take advantage of her poor, lost soul. He would demean
her every chance he got,
giving her the most sickening and degrading chores. From cleaning the filth
out of his private
bathroom to taking his sweat-stained clothes to the cleaners, Jennie did it
all. One time, the sick sadist even had
the gall to make her rub ointment on a festering, pus-filled boil he had
growing on his hairy, ox-like shoulder blade.
How that poor girl hadn’t vomited afterward is beyond me. Yeah,
Angus was a real class act through and through.
Getting back to Christmastime,
Angus would take a bunch of us out each year for a holiday dinner. You would
think that would be a genuine
gesture. But then you would be
mistaken. Instead, Angus planted his fat
ass at the head of the table and began to preach to us lowly minions how great
and all powerful he was. In between
crocodile-sized gulps of food, he brought up our short comings and reveled in
the fact that he had so much control over us.
Zombie-like, we would all just sit there and watch the clock until the
torturous night came to an end.
This year, that behemoth decided
to take us to one of those all-you-can-eat Brazilian rodizio places. You know,
the kind where the servers walk around with huge hunks of meat they carve right
in front of you. Each diner is given a
card with a green side and a red side. If the green
side is facing up, it means you want to eat some more. If the red
side is facing up, it means you’ve had enough.
Now, we were all sitting at
table, eight of us in total, nine if you count Angus twice. Besides Jennie and
me, there was AJ and
Michael from accounts payable, and Raul, Jorge, and Benny all from maintenance. Not
a single one of our group was immune to
Angus’s torments. AJ and Michael were
lovers who lived openly in a domestic partnership. They were also strict vegetarians--vegans
be precise. As far as I know, neither
one of them had ever tasted a piece of meat in their lives. In fact, they were
against all kinds of
research involving animal testing. They
didn’t even wear clothing or buy any products made of animal skin. Just
imagine what it must have been like for
them, as Angus made these poor guys sit there and watch the rest of us load up
on one dead animal after another. All AJ
and Michael did was drink water and nibble on bread. As for Raul, Jorge, and
Benny, these guys
were all solid men. They knew their shit
when it came to fixing things. They played
a vital role in keeping Angus’s assembly line running smoothly so he could
crank out the products. Yet, Angus
showed them little appreciation and even less respect. I’m sure it had
to do with the fact that they
were all from Central America. His
blatant ignorance and bigoted ways were beyond offensive. He took full advantage
of their hard work
ethic, but hated their skin tone.
I had to say it was pretty
tight at the table, especially since Angus took up half the real estate. The
place was totally packed with patrons who
feasted on a delicacy of beef, chicken, and pork. Each table was right on top
of the next, which
made it very challenging for the servers to scoot in and out while carrying
portable carving stations and all that food.
A civilized person would have had empathy and patience for the staff
struggling to do their jobs under these conditions. Not Angus.
He didn’t know the definition of the word civil. He started cracking
on these poor guys right from the get-go.
“Listen up, amigo! I’m paying for this meal tonight, and I want
you to keep bringing the food until I tell you to stop. You got that, hombre?”
As I mentioned before, this
an authentic Brazilian restaurant.
Accordingly, all of the servers and hostesses were Brazilian. I know
they placed a lot of pride in their
culture. To refer to them with the words
amigo and hombre, which were more
commonly used in Mexican dialogue, was
insulting to their heritage to say the least.
I could tell by the expression on their faces. They were livid. But like any good professional does under
stress, they bit their tongues, smiled, and continued about their business of
tending to the customers. For some
reason, Angus was particularly ruthless to this young, smaller fellow who
appeared to be new to the job. Every
chance he got, he would let him have it.
Angus insisted on calling him Chico
even though his nametag read Maurice.
“Hey, Chico, give me
of that flank steak! Hey, Chico, I need
a clean fork. Hey, Chico, why is my wine
glass empty? Fill it up!” he demanded.
I was embarrassed for the
boy. I just sat there and cringed. We
But to his credit, Maurice kept his calm the entire time. His facial
expression never changed. It remained stoic.
As the night dragged on, it
more of the same. Angus took turns
ridiculing each one of us. I’d endured
his verbal tirades for so many years that I could actually zone him out for the
most part. However, there were still
times when he hit a nerve. He really
knew how to press my buttons.
“Hey there, Philly Boy.”
I hated when he called me
“I was thinking. We’ve been so busy lately that I think it’s
time to keep the office open on Sundays.
Now somebody has to be there to make sure orders get packed and
processed. And I can’t think of a better
man than you to get the job done.
Wouldn’t you agree? I’m sure you
won’t mind the extra hours, right, Philly Boy?”
His neck fat shook
violently when he laughed. I couldn’t
help but notice his mouth was filled with half-chewed meat. And all sorts of
food particles shot off his
tongue when he talked. That tongue was
the source of my anguish. I started to
fantasize about ripping it out so I wouldn’t have to listen to his abuse
But, coming back
to reality, I sheepishly muttered, “Sure, Mr. Angus…whatever you say.”
Once again, he had me. He still fucking had me after all these
years! What the hell could I do? What
choice did I have? I had to work. I
needed the money. My kids depended on me.
My blood began to boil. Just when I was ready to snap, Jennie touched
my leg. She must have seen the look of sheer
rage in my eyes. She stopped me before I
did something stupid that would have landed me in more trouble. She motioned
with her eyes toward her diner
card, which was now turned to the red
side. Jennie was always thinking. Let’s
end this nightmare of an evening as
soon as possible. When I turned mine to red,
the rest of the crew followed
Angus was so consumed with
own self-righteous pontification that he didn’t even realize he was the only
one at the table who was still gorging himself.
Seeing that our entire group, with the exception of one obese asshole,
had finished their meals, the wait staff naturally slowed down the frenetic
pace and finally began to tend to some of the other guests. Realizing this,
Angus became enraged and
lashed out at Maurice.
“Chico! Did I tell you to stop serving me? NO, I didn’t!
Let’s go, boy. You better keep slicing
that meat. I’m not done…not by a long
shot. And neither is anyone else at this
table. You keep carving until I
say stop. ME! I’m in charge, not them. You see this card? It’s green.
Not red. You do know the
difference, don’t you, Chico? Green is just like the cash in my wallet. But someone like you wouldn’t know about
cash. I got it. Here’s something
you’ll understand. Green is the same color as the green card you’ll
never get because you’re nothing but an illegal, greasy Wetback!”
I saw the muscles underneath
Maurice’s eye twitch involuntarily. It
was now clear that Angus had gotten to him too.
He just stood there staring…either too proud or too stunned to
The silence was deafening,
Angus broke it in one obnoxious instant.
“Jennie! You barely ate a thing. Have some more. I know you don’t get to eat like this when
you’re home. With your husband and son
gone, you and your daughter probably do take out most nights. Am I right?”
As Jennie sat solemnly, Angus,
still drunk with fury, continued his tirade.
“What about you ladies?”
addressing AJ and Michael. “Don’t you
think it’s about damn time the two of you put some real meat in your mouths? I
mean, come on already. Based on your
choice of alternative lifestyle, you should be used to swallowing large, thick
Listening to him, I literally
began to feel light headed. I closed my
eyes for a minute and tried to refresh my senses. When I opened them, I took
notice of Maurice. He was standing next to Angus and still had
that blank look on his face. He hadn’t
moved the entire time. In fact, he
appeared to be in a trancelike state.
I don’t know why, but
staring at him. Something told me not to
look away. Angus must have noticed me
gazing past him at Maurice, which infuriated him.
“Why are you just standing there, Chico?
Do something for Chrissake. Move
your Mexican ass and carve me more meat.
Pretend you’re running over the border like all the rest of your people
do. I bet you’d hustle then.”
Maurice stood as still as
statue. He didn’t flinch.
“Do you hear me, boy? I said carve me more meat,” Angus raged.
“I’m still hungry.”
The words pierced my brain
a thousand needles. I felt ill.
“I WANT MORE MEAT!”
It felt like a freight train
running through my head. My ears were
ringing. Sweat was dripping. I
couldn’t get any relief from the
“I WANT MORE MEAT!”
The ringing was becoming so
intense that I began to feel nauseous.
My stomach began to rumble. I
couldn’t sit still…couldn’t get comfortable.
“PICK UP THAT CARVING
FORK. STICK IT IN.
AND CARVE ME MORE MEAT!”
I couldn’t take it anymore. I opened my mouth to let out a scream, but
the words never came out.
Suddenly, without warning,
was total silence. It was surreal, as if
time stood still.
Like a dutiful servant, Maurice
followed Angus’s orders to a “T” just like the rest of us did. He
picked up the carving fork, stuck it in,
and began to carve more meat. Let me reiterate.
He picked up the carving fork, held it high
over his head, the light glistening off its stainless steel prongs, and drove
that fork down with all his might directly into the left side of Angus’s
throat, straight through his jugular.
Although his eyes widened
dramatically, Angus barely made a sound.
Dropping his utensils, his arms stiffened. His hands violently clenched. His entire body appeared in a paralytic
state. He gazed upward and to the left
just in time to see Maurice’s razor sharp fillet knife slice effortlessly
through the sanctuary of neck fat that hung generously over his collar.
As the rest of the table sat
motionless with mouths agape, watching spurts of blood pump feverishly out of
the gaping wound, Maurice gingerly used his tongs to remove the hunk of flesh
and placed it gently on Angus’s plate.
His body convulsed…his eyes darted wildly back and forth…his lips
quivered. Angus feebly attempted to
speak, but could not utter a sound.
Still trying to conjure up
rational thought as to what just transpired, I noticed Jennie reaching onto the
table in front of her. In wild
amazement, I watched her pick up her diner card and turn it over to the green
side. Seeing this, Maurice smiled, and with the
precision of a surgeon, he expertly began to dissect more flesh from Angus’s
bloated carcass. One by one, everyone
began to turn their cards to the green
side. Raul, Jorge, Benny, even the
vegans AJ and Michael eagerly turned cannibalistic and feasted greedily on huge
hunks of raw flesh from the high and mighty Charles Angus. At the same time,
the entire dining room erupted
As I watched my companions
their meals…blood and tissue dripped from their jowls…my eyes locked with
Maurice’s. There, he stood, grinning
over the now shredded remains of the man who had made my life a living hell
over the years. I returned a half-smile
while my hand simultaneously fumbled for my diner card. Always wanting to be
a team player, I turned
it to green.
I did, however, ask Maurice
a special request, which was more than appropriate under the circumstances.
“Maurice, my good man,
serve me his tongue.”
Happy to oblige, Maurice went
back to work and finished his masterpiece.
Just prior to fading out,
gurgling, and violently choking on his own blood, Angus watched as I devoured
the root cause of his verbal torment throughout the years. In one final scene
of ultimate irony, I
noticed a very familiar logo on the butt plate of Maurice’s carving
utensils. It was a mark I had grown to
know well over the years. Although
stained with blood, the three initials stood out clearly: E.C.S., which stood
for Edge Culinary Supply.
Despite all of his shortcomings,
I did have to give the man credit. Mr.
Angus certainly produced some of the finest pieces of culinary equipment money
could buy. If he still had his tongue, I’m
sure he would have agreed.
James Kompany is a police officer in Northern
New Jersey. He has seen a lot of
disturbing things during his career. He figured, why not put some of them
on paper? He’s always had a knack for writing and public speaking. This
is his first go around on a professional level. He has never before been
published. He is married with two children. In his free time, he enjoys
cooking, working out, outdoor activities, and reading. His preferred
genre is history and true crime...no surprise there.