The man massaged the dark, ox-blood meat with firm circling motions. His left hand occupied tenderising the steak, he reached into the drying rack with his left. A voice calling through the bathroom door made him pause. That was one thing which never ceased to frustrate him, having the toilet next to the kitchen. It was barbaric.
“Babe, have you heard of this ‘insanity test’? It’s supposed to tell you whether or not you’re a psychopath.”
His hand found the cleaver’s handle. It came free from the rack with an intensely satisfying scrape of steel against wood. The man lifted it ever so slightly, braced his hand against the board and smacked the blade down. It pared through the meat and stuck for a second in the chopping block below. His face lit up with a smile as he pulled it free.
“Are you listening to me?” The bathroom voice asked, an irritating needle of accusation in its tone. “Have you started boiling the vegetables?”
Damn it, he’d forgotten. Now he’d be hearing the snagging, piercing voice for an hour over dinner. One tiny mistake and his whole night was ruined. He banged the cleaver down into the plump steak again. “I’m doing it now.”
“You didn’t already?”
That high, wavering voice. Was it the worst thing in the damn world if the vegetables didn’t get put on right then? Was it really that much of a crisis? He was getting stressed. That was his blood pressure ramming a nail into his temple every half-second. His mind was about to explode. It felt hot and stuffy, like he’d left the oven on and stuck his head inside it for good measure.
He swung the cleaver down again, missing the flesh completely and almost taking off his own thumb. He did a double-take to check that he hadn’t. Had to because there was blood on his hands, but no wound that he could see.
That was more bad news. Now he was really for it. He would be lucky if he even got any sleep that night. A bloody raw steak meant it hadn’t been butchered properly, there was no way they were eating that for dinner.
He went to wash his hands and there was more crimson blood, hot and sticky around the sink. It was everywhere. A shrill voice screamed from the hallway. Of course. His daughter always had to freak out about everything.
He tried walking to the other side of the kitchen and nearly tripped on something awkward and lumpen, lying in the middle of the kitchen floor. There was slippery, sticky wetness on the tiles beneath his feet.
“Pick that up! Mop that up!”
Damn, he was losing it. He was forgetting what he was supposed to be doing.
The cleaver rang over and again on the brittle tiles, hacking at chopping at the raw, bloody meat.
The girl in the hallway screamed.
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