Leave it to Cleaver

Some of us use our skills to make a life for ourselves.

But in the Gutter, we sometimes use it to take a life for ourselves.

Leave it to Cleaver by Chase Whale

While I was choking the life out of Ronald, I kept thinking about her. Poor, sweet innocent Rachel. The only sure thing in life is death, but she shouldn’t have gone out like she did: raped, murdered, and hurled into an alley like trash with a needle of junk jammed in her arm.

Rachel was the only thing left for me in this cesspool. Pop blew his brains out when I was 35, and cancer took my mother two years later. Rachel was born into misery –- her parents were junkies—so I took care of her until she was old enough to work and live life on her own

It took time to get Ronald alone — he always had an entourage with him — but when a man has nothing to lose, patience becomes his most loyal companion. His father, Mickey Welles, is one of the city's biggest crime shitbirds. I don’t know how they never connected my relationship with Rachel — divine intervention? — but they never discovered I was her uncle. This was their biggest mistake.

I snapped Ronald’s neck and watched blood leak out of his glassy, dead black eyes. I pulled out my cleaver and went to work. Once that party was over, I picked up his phone and dialed Mickey.

I’m busy Ronald, what do you—”

This is Charlie.”

Charlie? Who the fuck are you?”

The man who just killed your son.”

You better be fucking around.” I could feel the tremble of fear and fire in his voice.

Meet me at Leave it to Cleaver’s in 45 if you want the other half of your son back.”



My name is Charlie Lang; known to my associates as Cleaver. I’m not a good man, but I’m not a monster, either. I used to make ends meet street-fighting, but old age beat me to the punch. Now I run my late Pop’s deli shop, Leave it to Cleaver. (Pop loved a play on words and puns.)

Occasionally, I’m a hired butcher. When someone needs a dirty rotten scoundrel to disappear, I’m called. It’s a dirty job but pays well. My tactics are swift, clean, and I leave nothing behind. At the shop, I have a colossal grinder that scrambles the bones and meat into digestible food for my two hungry pits, Brutus and Sadie. Easy money.


I got back to the shop and waited. I leaned against the counter and waited for death to arrive. I knew I punched my ticket killing Ronald, but I’m an old, broken piece of meat and Rachel was all that I had. Ronald was a rotten dog — you give him a steak and he wants the whole cow. He was a rotten dog that took Rachel from me and needed to be put down. In this business, there are no clean breaks. Everyone has their comeuppance. 

Knock knock. Death has arrived. With Mickey are two goons packed with AKs.

Be cool. I told myself as sweat poured down my right brow and burned in my eye. I was ready for a fight: a sawed-off double barrel in my left hand and the sharpest fucking cleaver that would slice through God, should He stand in my way, in my right. I buzzed them in.

You must be Cleaver. I’ve heard about you. Do you know who I am?” Mickey asked.

You’re Mickey Mouse,” I said as I pointed the cleaver at the goon on his left, and you must be his pal Donald Duck, and the other rodent on the right is your princess, Minnie.”

I set my cleaver down on the counter.

You’re a funny fella. I hate to kill funny fellas.” Mickey retorted.

Make it slow, I love the smell of blood,” I quipped.

Let’s get down to business — why did you kill my son? We don’t tamper territory this side of the tracks.”

Your son killed my niece. The end.”

I see. She must have been a whore. My son loves fucking rats.”

Fuck it. Behind me was Ronald’s head, which I grabbed and tossed at Mickey. During his shocked and horrified state, I snatched the cleaver and bum-rushed the three, thwacking it into Donald’s skull; it cut through like a knife slicing through hot butter. His scream filled the shop. While the cleaver was traveling through his skull, the sawed-off in my left-hand boomed and shredded half of Minnie’s head into roast beef.

Mickey threw a wallop left hook into my jaw, and I heard the sound: crunch. His bone-breaking punch reminded me he also used to be a fighter. He threw his right fist into my ribs, and I dropped fast. I scooted back against the counter while he pulled out a pistol and popped one in my left shoulder.

You see,” he said, big meatheads like you don’t plan, you just punch. You thought you could take out all three of us? You should have shot me when you had the chance.” Mickey looked around. Nice shop, family-owned? I’m going to have a time using what’s here to tear you apart.”

I spat blood and started laughing. My maniac guffaw distracted him while I pulled something out from my pocket. "Two things, Mickey: You watch too many gangster movies, hahaha, and you talk too much.”

He started to raise his pistol.

“There’s one more thing I almost forgot,” I said. And that’s when I showed him the pin I pulled from the grenade in my pocket. Time to meet God.”

The last thing I saw was tough guy Mickey’s frozen, terrified face.

And then.


Chase Whale is a graduate of the University of North Texas' Creative Writing B.A. program. He's a film critic, and you can find his work on Out of the Gutter, Twitch Film, Indiewire, MTV, Flaunt Magazine, and other places. He tried to fight Sean Penn once. It didn't work out well.