Peter Caffrey

The Butcher’s Wife

On frosty mornings she’d pull me into her marital bed, and I’d settle between the crisp white cotton sheets which still emanated a degree of warmth from her husband’s flesh. Those first few seconds as we lay together underlined the illicit nature of our liaisons, my naked body in another man’s place, my skin against the skin of his wife, his scared sanctuary violated by my presence.

I enjoyed the thrill of being there, of sullying his most special and private retreat. It was as if I could feel his as yet unvented outrage at the deception; the bedding transmitting a small taste of the smouldering anger he’d feel if he knew what was going on behind his back. The heat and scent still slumbering in those sheets was accusatory. It was as if its sole purpose for lingering long after his mortal meat had hauled his troubled soul off to market was to make a point to me and others.

There had to be others: a cacophony of cheats sneaking in to satisfy her desires. They could come and go, but market time was mine and mine alone. As he wandered between the stalls, fingering the beef and pork in the cold dawn half-light, I fingered his wife’s flesh, prodding and teasing like a reluctant buyer as she preened and posed and tried to make herself sexually attractive.

It was one thing the butcher and I had in common: we dealt in meat. There was no attachment to the beasts we handled, no love or compassion for them. It was just cold meat.

I didn’t love her, and to some extent I didn’t like her either. She lacked the grace and elegance I expected from femininity, and she was not blessed with beauty, skin-deep or otherwise. If her teeth had been as white as the callouses on her hands, or her hair as dark as the bruises on her thighs, she might have been acceptable in a certain light.

Loud, coarse and lacking any aesthetical qualities, there wasn’t a lot to turn the heads of passing gentlemen, but she had one redeeming feature: she was available. There weren’t many constants in our dalliances, but her availability was without question one of them.

The thrill of playing a part in the butcher’s betrayal was arousing, but the fear of being discovered created even greater excitement. We’d romp, but I always had an ear cocked, listening out for the vicious slash of his cold blade against the sharpening steel. If her availability was a given, so too was the fact his knife skills would be without compare. I didn’t doubt he could gut a man with a single slash; his monstrous strength created by countless years of beef consumption and long hours spent wrestling carcasses to comply to his will. If he were enraged, a mere slip of a lad such as I would have no chance of survival.

My demise would be swift, or so I hoped. If he had a mind to make my death slow and painful, he could do so with ease. He might choose to deliver unto me a lingering punishment for injuring his pride and violating his spouse in ways condemned by God-fearing citizens. She would, no doubt, think only of preserving her own sallow skin. She’d point the finger and claim it had all been my doing. Would it make things better if I denied her claims, reminding him she wasn’t the greatest prize for a young and virile lad? It probably wouldn’t help.

I visited her every morning, except Sundays. Only a pagan would fornicate with another man’s wife on a Sunday, plus the market was closed, the porters and wholesalers tucked up in bed with their spouses, wondering who had been between those sheets – and those thighs – while they were out working all week.

On market mornings, she’d let me in to the shop and we’d go upstairs without a word. I’d undress and climb between the sheets, my cold skin seeking the patches of warmth to underline the adulterous nature of our liaison. As I fondled his wife in an act of foreplay practised by rote, the creeping fear of discovery would emerge and hover beside me. Would today be the day he discovered our betrayal? I’d fantasise she felt the same, terrified but unable to resist me. Despite our mutual dread, the consequences of his early return were never voiced between us.

She’d cock a leg, revealing her well marbled rump, and lowering herself down she’d twitch and writhe, grinding herself into my greedy mouth. It was a chore, but the thought he might appear in the doorway, knife in hand, and watch the escalating obscenity was enough to keep me working her into an ever-greater frenzy.
As she closed in on her special moment I’d wrestle her around with all my strength, ensuring I never glanced towards the door. His presence, or the lack of it, wasn’t something I wanted confirmed. On her back, her fat belly quivering and breasts shuddering like the udders of an over-milked beast, I’d throw myself into the toil. Shoulders tensed, I awaited the burning impalement, the blade striking home, time and time again, to end the debauchery.

I’d battle through the fear and tense excitement until her body sucked me dry and spat me, like a husk, into the morning air.

Then just one kiss and we would part. I’d leave her in the marital bed, her belly filled with secret seed, nipples aching for another touch, her womanhood restored. And me? I had it all. The terror-induced electrifying arousal as I dwelt in the warm spot between her ample thighs, and every day, fresh liver for breakfast.

Peter Caffrey is a writer of fiction with an absurdist leaning. His work has appeared in Underbelly, Infernal Ink, Horror Sleaze Trash, Danse Macabre, Close to the Bone, Frontier Tales, Terror House and Idle Ink, amongst others. His novel, The Devil’s Hairball, was published earlier this year. He drinks too much, exercises too little and is unlikely to change.

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