Black Petals Issue #99, Spring, 2022

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Are You Full? Fiction by James Kompany
Bunker-Fiction by Ron Capshaw
Buy Here, Pay Here-Fiction by Kim Bonner
The Church of the Coyotes Who Would be Wolves-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Elm Mills-Fiction by Mack Severns
Hearts in the Gutter-Fiction by Lamont Turner
Midnight Espresso-Fiction by David Starobin
Spider Bite-Fiction by N. G. Leonetti
Test Tube Babies-Fiction by Kilmo
Witches' Jubilee-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Biter: A Love Story-Flash Fiction by Harris Coverley
New Mail-Flash Fiction by Eddie D. Moore
Reasons Not to Wake Up a Sleeping Beggar in the Morning-Flash Fiction by Marcelo Medone
While I was Frozen-Flash Fiction by K. A. Williams
Woodshop for Werewolves-Flash Fiction by Mark Jabaut
Bruja-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
First Light-Poem by Jeffrey Park
Soul Music-Poem by Jeffrey Park
Stalker-Poem by Jeffrey Park
Zombies in Space-Poem by Jeffrey Park
Bleeding Senses-Poem by Jess Boaden
I'd Like to Speak to the Manager-Poem by Carl E. Reed
The Woods (Behind My House)-Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Nocturnal Mode-Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
When I Find You-Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Ethereal-Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Fall-Poem by Mike Edele
Death-Poem by Mike Edele
Where Will You Be-Poem by Mike Edele
Giant Cockroach-Poem by Richard Stevenson
The Allegewi-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Tokoloshe-Poem by Richard Stevenson
The Ghoul-Poem by Richard Stevenson

James Kompany: Are You Full?

bp_99_areyoufull_mdavis.jpg
Art by Michael D. Davis 2022

ARE YOU FULL?

James Kompany

 

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 him? 

Anyway, like I was saying, Angus sure didn’t hesitate to let me know how important I was to the organization.

“I can’t thank you enough, 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 was 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 to be?”

Yeah.  What’s it going to be?  As if I had a fucking choice in the 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 fucking years!

And I wasn’t the only one who 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 to 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 him instantly. 

After the funeral, Jennie had 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 the 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 to 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 damn 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 was 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 some more 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 poor boy.  I just sat there and cringed.  We all did.  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 was 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 that.

“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 anymore. 

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 suit. 

Angus was so consumed with his 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 move. 

The silence was deafening, but 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 objects.  Freaks.”

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 I kept 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 a 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 like a thousand needles.  I felt ill.

“I WANT MORE MEAT!”

It felt like a freight train was running through my head.  My ears were ringing.  Sweat was dripping.  I couldn’t get any relief from the pressure. 

“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, there 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 a 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 in applause. 

As I watched my companions savor 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 for a special request, which was more than appropriate under the circumstances.

“Maurice, my good man, please 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. 

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