There was once a chef in the small Midwest town of Dearfoth, Minnesota. Everyone knew him as “Ole’ Mac”. He cooked at “Tilly’s diner” for minimum wage and was known for his generosity. At the end of every day he would give leftover soup broth to the freezing homeless that would conglomerate outside the back door of the diner.
The old woman who owned the diner knew about this and gave her consent. She too had a kind heart. But one day it failed and she died on a snowy January night. People from all over Dearforth came to the diner to pay their respects. Her death was a loss to the community.
Her son Jimmy flew in from Saint Paul to take over the family business. He was a fast talking corporate man and immediately noticed profit bleeding from the humble diner. At the wake he told the Mac that he sought to turn the place into one where he could achieve his greatest dreams. He also mentioned that Mac would help him greatly.
The next day Jimmy assumed control of the diner and started making changes. He cut the staff’s health plans, then forced Mac to stop his daily handouts to the freezing homeless men. The reputation of the diner quickly changed.
Mac was dismayed at the changes and immediately turned in his resignation. He cleaned his workstation and left. Luckily he was quickly offered a job in the timber industry by his brother.
Mac worked hard every day for weeks, and every day longed for the comfort of the diner. One day he decided to go back after work. Though when he walked in, he hardly recognized the place. It was completely empty. None of the staff or regular customers to greet. Only Jimmy stood at the cash register. He seemed tired, but at the sight of Mac was instantly energized.
‘Mac! I’ve been waiting for you to walk through that door! Business has been bad since you left, everyone quit and I have no idea how to run a diner by myself.’
Mac pitied him and offered whatever he could to help him out. Jimmy was happy at the idea and quickly led him back to the kitchen and put him to work.
‘I want to know how to make everything. Please teach me.’ Jimmy pleaded.
Mac donned his apron and went to work. There seemed to be no gloves, so he washed his hands thoroughly and began. He grabbed some meat that was set out for the day and tenderized it. Then he looked for a knife to cut the meat into manageable pieces but could find none.
‘Here, I found this in the back.’ Jimmy held up a knife with a gloved hand. He had also found a box of gloves but offered Mac none.
Mac continued and within an hour had prepared a great feast of all the menu items on a platter. Mac felt at home preparing food again. Jimmy thanked him and asked him if he could come tomorrow at the same time and help him again with some items he had recently added to the menu. Mac agreed and then headed back home.
The next afternoon, Mac returned. He opened the door and noticed a note on the register.
‘I stepped out to buy some fresh tomatoes, I’ll be back shortly. – J’
Mac went into the back and saw the new recipe on a similar note attached to the grill. He donned his apron then headed to the freezer to grab some meat. What he saw would haunt him for the rest of his days.
Bodies were suspended from the ceiling. As he looked closer, faces he knew stared back at him. The staff, the regulars, and the homeless he had once fed all were hanging with peaceful expressions. Mac shivered. Not just from the cold, but also from the thought of the vile fate that had become of his friends. He spied one of his homeless friends still with a bit of color in his cheeks though he had been beaten savagely and Mac quickly unfastened him and dragged him out.
He went back to the freezer door and turned to find himself face to face with Jimmy.
‘I told you that you would help me fulfill my greatest dreams. And in a way, you will.’ Jimmy said with a devilish grin.
Then he hit Mac with a nearby frying pan and Mac collapsed onto the ground.
Mac woke to the sound of the police bursting through the back door. They yelled at him to stay on the ground and kept their guns pointed at his shocked face. They found the bodies in the freezer, the food prepared from their flesh, and Mac’s prints over everything. If the homeless man had not woken from his hypothermia induced sleep and testified to his innocence, Mac would have been put to death by a jury of his peers.
Jimmy was found a few days later. The police followed his scent with dogs to the forest where he had tried to cross a lake that had been iced over. He had fallen through and had frozen to death. The same grin he had given Mac in the diner was permanently fixed on his face.
In the end, the merciless cold had taken him. To Mac it seemed like justice.