A Bad Place to Meat
Ham house, photo credit Mary Sloat
Meat hooks, photo credit Mary Sloat
I grew up on a farm in Virginia. The previous owners smoked hams in, you guessed it, the ham house (above). Inside was a room with hundreds of hooks on the ceiling (the photo on the right was taken in that room). The walls were blackened from the years of smoke and the smell, even after 50 years, was burnt and dusty. Every time I stepped inside I felt the presence of all that meat lingering in the walls and in the air.
When I combined the ham house with a recurring nightmare I used to have of a tusked beast trying to attack me, I ended up with the short story, A Bad Place to Meat, which won Honorable Mention in the Jon Meyers Dark Humour Prize for Gothic Literature. Funny thing is the actual story title was A Bad Place to be Meat, but the publication gave it this title and I liked it, too.