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by Beau Johnson

Vegetables, check. Rice steaming nicely, check. Onto the shanks I think then, yes? And just so we’re on the same page: this will be more for me than it is for you, Bruce. Some people might call such a proclamation transference. Some, absolution. In my opinion, it just needs to be. To allow me to sleep at night I mean.

So, to begin, I cook. Always have, always will, but before and after big jobs like you I usually try to one up myself in the ingredient department. You know, really attempt to create a dish you write home about. Crème brûlée. Steak tartare. Something that involves me reducing the hearts of mushrooms to their core. And yes, broken down, I do understand how it provides value to the notion that creating something from nothing is a valid if not instinctual response to the things I’ve chosen to destroy.

Textbook, really. Me, a man who has forever led with his heart.

Truth be told, I excel at relieving the world of people like you, Bruce. I’ve also been a pretty decent cook my entire life, so as this conversation might imply, this is the reason we find ourselves in the situation we do. Before we turn ourselves over to it completely, however, I’d also like to state I’m more than what you see here in this kitchen, Bruce; more than the man who strapped you to that chair. Unlike you, I do enjoy long walks on the beach, almost as much as I enjoy cooking, with my favourite moment of any given day being when my head hits the cold underside of a stiff pillow and I allow myself to shut things down. Might fly in the face of preconceived notions pertaining to someone like me, sure, but again, you’ve never met someone quite like me, have you, Bruce?

I care, Bruce. I really do.

It means I’m going to ensure you feel as little pain as possible.

Your family. Your mother, your daughter, both your ex-wives. Worry not, as they will be taken care of as well. Not as you think, no, but as a comforting hand, a reassuring gesture — as a man who knows about loss and all it can entail.

We are the same in many respects, Bruce — as stubborn in our professions as in our extra-curricular activities. Where we differ, of course, is the mediums in which we choose to expel our demons. Creation. Destruction. Both of us proficient in the art of who we think should live or die. But what it means above all else, Bruce, is this: every child your continued existence would and could have touched, from this point forward, will forever cease to be.

Time to thicken this broth, Bruce. Time to add the meat.

Beau Johnson has been published before, usually on the darker side of town. He is the author of A Better Kind of Hate, The Big Machine Eats, and the forthcoming All of Them to Burn, all published by Down and Out Books.