19 Jul

“You see that boy, you catch’im and drag him here by the ear or sideburns’f you haveta. He’s gotta help me sooner or later. He old enough as it is. Christmas time ‘round the corner, for Chrissakes. He love the sausages good enough to eat’em. Eat ‘em like Ghengis Khan, mhm,” the old man said and rolled the dice. He was playing backgammon with one of the neighbors.
“How long he been gone anyways?”
The woman shrugged and fussed with the fire. She had deep channels cut into her perpetually tanned, peasant face.
“And stop pokin’ the bastard all the time, Marie. Marie, what I tell you? Ain’t no fire goin’ to keep burnin’ if you…GODDAMIT,” the old man said as he got one of his pieces bumped onto the bar. His opponent took a quick drink from the bottle of homemade hooch in between them, and laughed.
“Goddamit. Marie, stop with the fire, for Chriss…I’m tellin’ you if you poke around enough times…Jesus, not again.”
Another of his men got hoisted up and stacked on top of the other on the bar. The woman pushed up to her feet and left the room.
“You get’im here if you hafta drag him, you hear?” he yelled after her. “If you hafta wipe the road clean wid’im.”
She let the door slam.
“He almost a grown man. Ten year old. At’s what you get livin’ in the big city,” he said to his opponent who nodded. “Chrissakes, people get soft in the city…”

What I hate the most about Christmas is slaughtering the pig. I hate it. When I was small, grandpa would let me slide; I wouldn’t have to be there, but I could still hear those horrific squeals coming from the yard. When I was small I’d run to the Jesus room at the back of the house and shut the door and stick my fingers into my ears and sing. And I could still hear the squeals. It was awful. Even Jesus couldn’t help. I’d pray to Him but he never did anything. The pig always got slaughtered. I hated it. He sounded like a human being. It was awful.

“You find’im?”
The woman did not say anything. She tucked a piece of hair under her head scarf.
“Marie, look at me. You find’im?”
She nodded.
“Where he been?”
She shrugged.
“Where he at now?”
She cocked her head toward the back of the house.
“Boy, you better clean yourself up ‘fore you come in here and stink up the place from god knows where you been,” the old man yelled and tilted the hat off his forehead. “Tomorrow you gonna help me catch the pig.”
A door slammed in response.
“Soft,” he said to the woman. “The city makes ‘im soft.”

I never minded the chickens. I used to laugh at them, bouncing around decapitated like that. My mother couldn’t stand that, though. She called country life barbaric. That’s why she’d drop me off for the summer. She never stayed more than a day. But I never minded the birds. For some reason seeing the chickens like that never bothered me. It was just the pig. He was big and he screamed horribly when grandpa put the blade into his throat. It was awful hearing and seeing all of it. It took at least two men to hold him down while he got slaughtered. I could stand everything about the country except the slaughter of the pig at Christmas. Even the rabbits were all right. I only got to see them get killed once, but it didn’t bother me as much as the pig. They got their necks twisted, but it was quick. The rabbits didn’t scream. They didn’t sound human like the pig.

“You ‘bout ready?”
The boy stood in the middle of the yard.
“I’m a let’im out and he gonna be a bit confused at first. Right there, at first. ‘At’s when you go for’im,” the old man said. He took out his long knife from the loop of his belt.
The boy stood in the middle of the yard with his hands in his pockets. He was sobbing quietly.


5 Responses to “Swine”

  1. Anonymous 19/07/2007 at 12:56 PM #

    Oh man. So sad. And so good. I still like how you don’t infuse any kind of judgement into your stories. There’s empathy definately, but there’s no overt judgement on any of your characters. Are you ever going to come up to DC?

  2. Lx 19/07/2007 at 3:33 PM #

    next time i’m in d.c.
    i’m bringing a guest.
    know’m sayin?

  3. slyboots2 19/07/2007 at 3:35 PM #

    As the Bee Gees said, “Pleasure and pain, it’s a gravy train.” (again with the train, I know- repetition is good for the soul- ask the Catholics).

    This one is definitely a keeper. I particularly like the echoes throughout. Like I said, repetition is good for the soul. Ask the Catholics.

  4. Anonymous 19/07/2007 at 3:53 PM #

    Oh really? Cool. Give me a long heads-up when you have dates. My summer is busy as hell.

  5. Arsenal For Arsenal Fans 21/07/2007 at 6:56 AM #

    Care to exchange links?
    Please provide your blog’s link.

    Thank you.

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