Mr. Walker strolled the grocery aisles, armed with a feather brush, he raised little clouds of dust as he cleaned rows and rows of canned goods. He stocked all the necessary staples – Spam, pork and beans, Vienna Sausages, Saltines, tune (packed in oil), Campbell’s soups (tomato, chicken noodle and cream of chicken), Del Monte peaches and fruit cocktail, and for a special treat, there was Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed milk.
Coolers, once filled with fresh milk and eggs, cheese and juices, were dark. Supplies of perishable food dried up long ago. Walker couldn’t remember the last time he offered real beef or chicken in his store.
Most of the town had left in the first wave. The remainder was either imprisoned by the new regime or shot in their homes. Walker stayed because he had no where else to go, and he wasn’t killed because Commander Braugh needed a local man to serve as a gatekeeper of sorts.
When he was made a compulsory officer in the Citizen Army, part of his duties was to keep the troops fed. They went through the fresh foods quickly, then suppliers were cut off. Livestock left behind was butchered and stored in the grocery’s walk-in freezer. He parsed it out sparingly, but it didn’t last long either.
With only canned food and packaged dry goods remaining, Walker faced disgruntled troops wanting better provisions. That’s when he turned to trapping what vermin were still in town. Feral cats and dogs, a few squirrels and opossums, even a stray fox, were stewed or roasted. He cooked them up in the store’s cafe kitchen, and the soldiers were none the wiser. Walker claimed he found the meat in what he thought was an empty freezer at the grocery’s supply warehouse.
As the requisition officer, Walker was also responsible for receiving routine business communiques from headquarters. It was in this capacity that he became most resourceful. He would forge transfer orders for various soldiers, especially those who were particularly cruel to him. Their absence, attributed to official directives, was never questioned.
Walker took to privately calling each of these unfortunate men, Cpl. Hasenpfeffer. At mess, the troops called them delicious.