Butcher’s Tale

Butcher’s Tale grew out of my respect for Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and a lifelong affection for Jim Henson’s The Storyteller series.

Pulp Fiction ties several short stories together into one larger narrative, which is a clever device on its own, but its real genius is in its characters. Almost every one of the characters plays a supporting role in someone else’s story, but remains the hero of his or her own story. Just like real people, none of them ever think they’re the villain, or the sidekick, or the love interest… Everybody thinks they’re the hero.

The Storyteller is a series of folk tales written and/or adapted by Anthony Minghella, produced by Jim Henson Studios in the 90’s as part of The Jim Henson Hour. Most of the episodes starred John Hurt as the old Storyteller, and for me the show perfectly captured the oral tradition of storytelling that we see so rarely now.

Years later, I started writing pseudo-folk tales of my own, loosely basing the tone on The Storyteller‘s oral style. When I found a supporting character I loved, I gave them their own story, slowly using the characters to tie all the stories together. As a collection they’re called Traveler’s Tales, and “Butcher’s Tale” is the third of those stories, though the first one intended for publication.

Download the entire story here.

MEPS

MEPS, or Military Entrance Processing Station, is the process every recruit for the United States military must go through to determine eligibility. It can be tedious, frustrating, and if you have reason to think you might not be eligibile, incredibly stressful. When I went through MEPS I met people who had medical conditions, who were very nearly too old, who were obese, and/or who could barely meet the English requirement. Many of them had tried to enlist multiple times, and I was humbled by their willingness to keep coming back, determined to serve. This piece, “MEPS,” puts the reader in the shoes of one of these people, as I imagine the experience.

Download the entire story here.