Updated: Oct 1, 2020
George was a simple man.
He liked burgers, beer, and football. He went to work every day, he paid his taxes. Life was better lived that way, he surmised, allowing one to really enjoy the simple pleasures it had to offer. So when he had a hankering for a B.L.T., just like Mom used to make, with the toasted white bread, the perfectly sliced tomato, and the crispy strips of bacon arranged in a crisscross pattern, he had to oblige.
“Mom, do we have any lettuce?” he called up to her as he rummaged through the refrigerator. She didn’t have to answer because George soon discovered the sopping brown bundle of mush wrapped in plastic. He sighed, realizing he’d have to take a walk up to the store. A B.L.T. was nothing without the lettuce.
It was a warm Saturday, the kind of day right before summer starts when all the trees scatter their blossoms on the street. George was glad he’d brought his baseball cap, the worn blue rim keeping the sun out of his eyes. He was grateful Bob’s Corner Store wasn’t too far from his house, for although there was a cool breeze drifting through his neighborhood, he felt a few beads of sweat trickle down his temples. He stopped to pull out his handkerchief, dabbing his forehead as he watched one of his neighbors bludgeon the other with a baseball bat, splattering spongy pink on the sidewalk.
He replaced his cap, shoving his handkerchief back into the pocket of his frayed jeans. The walk was working up his appetite - he could almost smell the sizzling bacon in the skillet, almost taste the juicy tomato. He hurried across the crosswalk, sidestepping a bit of roadkill that had attracted a cloud of flies, most of them swarming around the woman’s cracked open jaw. He pulled out his wallet, checking to make sure he’d remembered his money. He looked back up to see Bob’s door was wide open and untouched, though the Chinese food restaurant across the street was on fire.
George entered, careful not to crunch the broken glass with his work boots, because good work boots weren’t easy to come by, and headed towards the produce section. He smiled, miraculously finding a head of lettuce that had been left behind. He pulled an unbroken six pack from the back of the cooler and put them all into the cloth bag from his other pocket, leaving a few dollars in Bob’s outstretched palm. The bullet wound in his head was attracting its own accumulation of bugs, his syrupy blood still pooling onto the floor.
As soon as he walked outside, a woman smacked into him, her eyes bulging out of her sockets as she screamed, “Please, they’re killing us!”
George scowled, shoving her off him as he turned to head back down the street. He stopped to check his bag to make sure she hadn’t upset his purchases. Satisfied that his produce was unblemished and he wouldn’t have to go back and disturb Bob, he continued back home, as the sound of her screams pummeled the air. They ended with a loud crack as someone smashed her head into the pavement.
He was glad to be away from the riffraff, squinting up at the sky to see a few clouds covering the sun. They swirled with the plumes of arson smoke that drifted up from town.
“Mom, I’m back,” he called, making a note to grab some air fresheners for her room the next time he was out. The stink was starting to infiltrate the downstairs. Soon it was replaced with the smell of cooking bacon and toasting bread, as George gently sliced the fresh tomato into the perfect thickness. After the bread popped up, he spread a coat of mayo on the top, stacking up the B., the L., and the T. and slicing the tower in half with his kitchen knife. He grabbed a cold one and headed to the living room to watch a recording of the game. Though he was a simple guy, he hated all the commercials and the news broadcasts lately, and recording it let him fast-forward to the good stuff.
He took a bite of the sandwich, letting the delicious combination of juices slide down his throat as he glanced out the window, noticing the bludgeoning neighbor from earlier laying dead in the street, his skin in ribbons. He wondered if he should go out there and grab some meat for later, since Mom’s was only going to be good for so long, but he was tired from his walk. He’d never used one that was already dead before, but although she was still alive on all those crazy tubes they put her on, she was running out of edible parts.
He was sure those thugs would be killing each other tomorrow too. He could make his decision then. It might be nice to stock a couple thighs and breasts in the fridge for the work week. He suddenly missed his Mom before she went brain-dead. She used to take care of all that stuff. Well, at least he knew how to duplicate her B.L.T.s. He took another bite of his sandwich, washing it down with a sip of cold beer before standing up to pull down the blinds and settling back down to watch the game.