March 26, 2011

One Eyed Bill

My grandfather would occasionally take cattle to be slaughtered for meat. The man he would take the cattle to was known to me as 'one eyed Bill' because that's what my grandfather called him. He wore an eye patch and since I was a little kid this intrigued me to no end. I remember grandfather telling me not to ask him why he had only one eye and where his other eye was. Of course my grandfather called him Bill when talking business with him.

I was around ten years old on my first trip to the slaughter house. I remember grandfather telling me that if I didn't want to watch, that it was okay and I could do something else around town while one eyed Bill did his work. I felt a mixture of excitement and dread but I wanted to see it.

I was seated in a chair to the side of the cement killing floor, a floor drain in the middle. I heard grandfather's truck backing up outside. The animal was stumbled out in a small pen made of wooden slats from floor to ceiling in the corner of the room. The animal somehow sensed something terrible was about to happen and was thrashing about, it's eyes wide and darting around so that you could see the whites.

I felt my face getting flush and my heart was pounding as one eyed Bill suddenly pulled a rifle up, holding it like a pistol with one hand. He was pushing a lever with his other hand that somehow squeezed the cow against the wall, making it easier for a clean shot to the head.

The rifle made a pop and the cow dropped. He opened the gate and pulled it's now lifeless body out in the middle of the killing floor. I felt a mixture of revulsion and fascination. My grandfather was now in the room leaning against the wall smoking. I could feel him watching me. Blood was coming out of the animal's mouth and ears.

One eyed Bill cut the cow's throat and blood gushed out finding the floor drain. He gutted it with a large machete like knife, cutting out the stomach, intestines, heart, and lungs from the rest of the body. In no time a big pink side of beef was hanging from a meat hook. After coming back that day I remember feeling exhausted as though I had done the work myself.

My grandfather asked if I were hungry because my grandmother was making hamburgers for supper.


  1. So, are you now a vegan? Eating nothing that casts a shadow ...

  2. I don't think I could swing being a vegan after this long being a meat eater although I'm sure my cardiologist would be thrilled with the idea.