“Okay, this is what happened. The next night I went back in there to see if I could find out anything. I was at the box when I heard somebody coming through the door. I hid behind some boxes in the corner where I could see what was in there if it got opened. Sure enough, it was the foreman coming back early. He went straight to the box and he looked around to make sure he was alone. He took out his keys and he opened up that box. I had a good view of the contents.”
Earl downed some more beer. I could see his hand was shaking.
“Boys, I just about gave myself away when I saw what was inside there.”
He stopped. None of us could believe it. Almost in unison we urged him on.
“It was body parts. Legs mostly. Human legs.”
You could have knocked us all over with a feather. Earl just sat there staring at the table. No one said a word for what seemed like several minutes.
“Earl, get out of town. You’re full of it. That’s not possible.”
Bill was agitated. He pounded his fist on the table and demanded to know more. Earl winced but continued.
“I know what I saw. That foreman, he took those parts out one by one and skinned and boned them. I tell you, it was all I could do to keep from puking right then and there, but he must have been used to it. Didn’t faze him at all. Then he took the meat out of the room in a tub. I guess he went and mixed it with the pork so’s no one else would know. That’s the secret of Spam. That’s why it tastes the way it does. I’m guessing not too many people know. Those that do must get paid a whole lotta money. Probably explains the big ‘ol Cadillac that foreman always came to work in. I’d heard he was a member of the Hormel family. Guess he’d have to be.”
I don’t know what my face looked like after that, but everyone else at the table was white as a ghost. For my part, my mind was reeling. I tired to remember the last time I had eaten Spam.
A minute later all hell broke loose. Everyone was calling Earl a liar, some in very colourful terms. I guess maybe they’d eaten their share of Spam in their day. Earl just sat there and didn’t say another word.
Steve finally told everyone to settle down and then confronted Earl.
“Earl, what did you do after that?”
“What do you think I did? I quit that job and high-tailed it out of Austin, that’s what I did. Didn’t want no part of what was going on there. Don’t know what they would have done to me if they’d found out what I knew, and I wasn’t gonna stick around and find out.”
There was much muttering and a call for one last round, which was brought and consumed, in record time. Bill still wasn’t prepared to let things go.
“Earl, you swear on your mother’s grave what you’ve told us is the truth?”
Earl got up from the table and looked Bill in the eye.
“Do you really want to know?”
Then he walked out leaving us all sitting there. So that was last weekend and I still can’t get the whole thing out of my head. Not sure I ever will.