8.30.2016

Bloodletting

The killing floor at the swine slaughterhouse was a metal grate, below which was a massive plexiglass walled collection tank for the blood and gore. The pigs were hung upside down by their hind legs from chains attached to tracks in the ceiling far above us. A cutter slashed open a pig's throat and windpipe with a razor sharp machete, terminating the beast's terrified squeals, and swung the animal out over the grate where the freshets of arterial blood coursed over its head and splashed into the tank below.

"Bacon. Phase one," said Rex, the night manager. He led me down a flight of steps adjacent to the killing floor until we stood beside a wall with windows that looked into chamber where the blood collection tank resided.

"We keep it dark in there at night," Rex said. "At dawn we can turn on the lights and go in." He looked at his watch. "Just a couple more minutes."

A couple minutes passed and then a bell chimed somewhere and the fluorescent lights inside the collection chamber flickered on. Adjacent to the curving white plastic walls of the collection tank was a swank looking bar with dark wood finish and several bar stools stood between us and the bar, scattered randomly about.

Three large brass spigots stuck out of the blood collection tank wall behind the bar.

"OK, should be safe," Rex said. He led me to a door several paces down the outer hallway and swiped an access badge across a panel in the wall to gain entry to the inner chamber.

On closer inspection, the floor of the inner chamber had some puddles of semi congealed blood and the bar and stools also had some blood spatter.

"So your job is basically to mop the place up and get it looking respectable before dusk," Rex said.

"Where do they go during the day?" I asked.

"I'll show you," Rex said. "We keep all the cleaning supplies in the same storage area." He walked me around the circumference of the blood collection tank to a large steel door on the opposite outer wall of the chamber. It resembled the door of a walk in cooler, with a levered handle, which Rex pulled to open the door.

Inside were shelves with cleaning supplies - bleach, disinfectant, rags, buckets, mops, rubber gloves. In the back of the storage room, resting vertically, were seven wooden coffins, all closed.

"They sleep in those...totally catatonic during daylight hours," Rex said, nodding at the coffins. "Just make sure you are out of here with the main door locked before dusk. Otherwise you might end up like your predecessor."

"What happened to him?" I asked.

"Her," Rex corrected me. "Let's just say there were only six coffins in here before last Thursday."

I nodded my understanding.

"On the bright side..." Rex smiled. "Every Friday is free chocolate covered bacon in the break room."

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