"Best stay away from that copse, ma'am," I kindly told the nose ring. "That hog's in there and he's a man-eater."
On the Trail of the Loathsome Swine
March 13 2014 |
They got some big wild hogs in Beauchamp County. The one that 'et my sister weighed 998 pounds. Lord strike me if I'm lyin'. Rose Marie weighed 95. She was twelve when that hog 'et her. She was out behind the shed planting violets when that hog charged out the brush like a runaway truck and snapped her neck and dragged her off.

Ma and Pa had gone to Morrisonville for seed and victuals, and my older brothers Ned and Ethan were helping Uncle Lamar shingle his barn. I was in the kitchen oiling my catcher's mitt when I heard Rose Marie yip once and then what sounded like a roto-rooter. It was a bad sound filled with pops and rips. I ran back behind the shed just in time to see that hog drag little Rose Marie into the brush.

I stood there shakin' and cryin' for awhile. Then I went in the house and called everyone I could think of. I called Ma and Pa. I called Uncle Lamar. I called Sheriff Dougherty. They all come back at the same time and the sheriff come with lights flashin'. Ned and Ethan drove their 150s. Uncle Lamar drove his Jeep. Ma and Pa were in the Magnum. There was a lot of dust. Everybody was screaming and crying.

"This is a public safety issue," Sheriff said. "I'm going to round up some good ol' boys and find thet hog and string it up."

Pa sidled up to Sheriff and poured quiet strength down on him. "We'll take care of this killer hog, Simon. We got thet right."

Those boys played gin rummy with each other every Saturday for the past twenty years. Sheriff looked away first. "I reckon that's your right, Joe Lee. But you'd better hop right on it before thet hog decides to eat somebody else's little girl."

Lamar pulled his thirty-ought-six from the cab rack and fed it some cartridges. Ned and Ethan ran up to the house and came back with an SKS and an AK-47. Pa got his Smith & Wesson .357. And I got my Desert Eagle .50. My grandpa Jeb Lee got me thet gun for my fourteenth birthday and I could think of no more fitting use for it than killing the hog thet 'et my sister.

Now you may ask yourself what business a fourteen-year-old boy has huntin' down and shooting a sister-eatin' hog. I got my first gun when I was ten. That was a .410 shotgun with which I brung down many a quail we had for dinner. You cook them in a mud nest, takes the feathers right off. I been huntin' with Ned and Ethan since I was six. I'd hold their ammo and their lunch for 'em.

Since I was the acting man of the house at the time, it was my right and duty to avenge my little sister who was so kind she would not step on an ant.

While we was gathering and checking loads this woman shows up in a smart pant suit with a cornrowed cameraman. I see her coming toward me with perfect silver hair and that guy behind her aiming the video camera at me like I'm on the Jerry Springer Show.

"Cody," she says. "I'm Amy Probst for KDOC in Birmingham. Can you tell us what happened?"

"Ain't much to tell," I said. "I heard Rose Marie screamin' and by the time I got back there all I saw was thet hog pullin' her into the woods. Left a blood slick on the grass."

"And what are you going to do about it?" she asks.

I held up my Desert Eagle next to my face. "I'm gonna find thet sumbitch and kill it."

Pa saw what was going on and told her to get the hell off his property. Naturally thet woman turned the camera on Pa and before you knew it he was telling her it's a crying shame these hogs are allowed to eat little girls but by God this one is going to pay.

Well Pa got out the walkie-talkies and handed them out. We were about ready to take off when Pa's friend Nick Plakias, proprietor of Plakias' Pita Paradise, rolls up in his Lincoln Navigator with a custom Henry elephant gun he got in England for fifteen thousand dollars.

"I want a piece of it, Joe Lee! She was my god daughter and I want a piece of it!" Nick saw it on TV and come right over. That's the quality of friends we had.

So there we were, Pa, Lamar and Nick in Nick's Navigator, Ethan, Ned and me in Ethan's jacked-up 150, and enough firepower to take over Guatemala. Ma come running down at the last minute with a sack filled with sandwiches and coffee in a thermos for everybody.

Pa yelled, "Let's go, boys!" Ethan hit the MP3 player and blasted "Sweet Home Alabama" all over the news crews, the sheriff's deputies, the whole gang of lookee-loos who gather ever' time a giant hog chows down on some poor little girl.

"Say Ethan!" I yelled above the Skynyrd. "How we going to sneak up on thet hog if you're playing records at 125 decibels?"

He saw what I was getting at and shut it off and turned on the radio. "The family of the little girl killed by a feral hog is hunting the creature down. For those of you just joining us, twelve-year-old Rose Marie Dixon of rural Beauchamp County was planting violets this morning when a feral hog seized her, instantly crushing her fragile skull in its monstrous pig jaws before fleeing into the underbrush with the body. Sheriff Daugherty said, 'It's only right the Dixons take care of their own. I know the whole county will sleep easier when this hog is apprehended.'

"Don't you mean killed, Sheriff?" the reporter asked.

"Isn't that what I said?"

There was a dirt road run into the woods a couple mile but no guarantee thet hog had took it. Rose Marie's blood was plain enough, but then we come to thet rolling scrubland, pine pricklers so thick you can't run a car back there. We had to get out and start some serious tracking. Pa taught me how to read spore and broken twigs, how to follow game deep into its territory.

By now it was late afternoon. The ground was kind of mossy and I could see the monster's hoof prints. I raced through the forest leaping over vines and roots, Ned and Ethan running right after and urging me to slow down.

Those woods backed up against a state forest. Pretty soon I saw a glimmer through the trees and headed that way, on account of feral hogs being attracted to bright, glittery objects, like magpies or girlfriends. I got there a few steps ahead of Ned and Ethan. It was an official Watchapatchi State Forest parking lot with a bright shiny new Toyota Highlander Hybrid, its ass end plastered with bumper stickers. They said, "MEAT STINKS!" "PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS." "COEXIST," with a lot of funny religious symbols for letters. "YOU CAN'T HUG A CHILD WITH NUCLEAR ARMS."

We stopped there to catch a breather and eat some lunch. Pretty soon Nick, Pa, and Lamar showed up on a dirt road and we all stood in a circle eating sandwiches and talking 'bout what we were going to do.

Nick spat on the Hybrid's tire. "PETA!" he said. "Well I got a bumper sticker too! 'EAT A PETA PITA!'"

I felt the hood. Still warm. We all knew why it was there. Now we had a race on, 'cause sure as God made little green apples one of those animal rights people was going to step up to thet hog and try to baby-talk to it and get 'et.

Only time I ever had any truck with 'em animal rights people was in the sixth grade. They got permission to come into our school and try to frighten the bejesus out of us with pictures of slaughterhouses and chickens in cages and such. They didn't get much traction though, because every sixth grader in the Beauchamp County School District is required to take a guided tour of the Beauchamp Meat Packing Company, so stripped carcasses and blood running down drains was old hat to us.

I swear, you'd think those people never dressed a deer or nothin'.

Those PETA people left a trail like an irrigation ditch. Stupid as they was, they was setting themselves up for a big chow down. Like I said, Rose Marie only weighed ninety-five, hardly more than a light snack to thet monster hog.

I took off again with Ned and Ethan behind me. By now it was almost dusk but that trail was too big to lose. I come around a corner and see four PETA people stretched across the trail with their hands like a traffic cop. Two gals and two guys. They weren't the Dixie Chicks.

One woman was short and chunky with a military haircut and a nose ring, not unlike bulls I seen at the county fair. If Lamar hadn't showed me how to sex chickens, I would not have known it was a she. The other woman was tall and lanky with a military haircut and a stud in her chin. One guy was spindle shaped and had a scruffy little beard and mustache like he'd been living too long in the sticks. The other looked like an overripe dandelion in a red nylon windbreaker.

They were each holding a red flag.

"Stop!" yelled the nose ring.

"Comin' through!" I yelled, bringing my pistol up in front of my face like a hood ornament. They broke like spooked quail and thrashed into the underbrush. Seconds later Ned and Ethan pounded through waving their hardware.

I knew we were close. I could smell thet hog. I saw one of Rose Marie's shoes, didn't stop to pick it up. Ned and Ethan right behind a whoopin' and a hollerin'. And right behind them come the PETA people waving red flags, banging on tambourines, and singing "We shall overcome." They must have had a real quick committee-type meeting and voted to give chase, bravely putting their own lives in danger to save the sister-eatin', murderin' hog.

Swear to God.

I came to a woodfall, a ten-foot bird's nest made of thorns. I could hear that old hog layin' in there, huffing and chuffing. I could smell him. But I couldn't see him, and it would have been plum foolish to go looking for him in there. We all know about Br'er Rabbit and the Briar Patch, and I weren't no rabbit.

I pulled up short and waited for Ned and Ethan, who'd run right through the PETA people and stood by me as we figured out our next move. Then the PETA people caught up with us.

"Best stay away from that copse, ma'am," I kindly told the nose ring. "That hog's in there and he's a man-eater."

They huddled and murmured. They took up positions at the four corners of the compass around that deadfall, with nose ring facing us.

"We're sorry about your sister," she said. "But the hog was doing what comes naturally. We're all Mother Earth's creatures."

"Me too, ma'am," I said. "I'm just doing what comes naturally."

Ned grinned. "Ethan and me, we taught thet boy how to hunt."

"Well I'm sorry," the nose ring said, "but you'll have to go through us to get to thet hog. And there are more of us on the way."

As if on signal, five skeezy looking people blowing whistles and waving red flags trooped out of the woods and joined the first four. They tried to join hands but they didn't quite stretch all the way around.

I looked at Ned. "What we gon' do, Ned?"

He grinned again. "Just sit tight, little brother, and get ready to shoot."

Nose ring confronted us defiantly. I thought, clean her up a little, give her some decent clothes, she'd still be ugly as a horned toad.

"There will be no slaughter of wild pigs today!" she declared Huey Long-like. And they sang, "We Shall Overcome." And they sang, "Kumbaya." And they sang, "The Internationale."

With a snort like a sucking drain the giant hog broke weed behind her, clamped its big pig jaws over her right pelvis and dragged her screaming into the brush like a turd-brown submarine tussling with a sucker fish.

"Go get 'im, Cody Lee!" Ethan sang but I was way ahead of him. Nose ring was screaming, grabbing at trees, slowing that big pig down so I run right up on 'em, laid the muzzle of my .50 Desert Eagle on one little pig eye and let fly. Whop! Like to blow a chunk the size of a softball out the back of its head. It kept on skittling backwards like some insect part ain't got the message that the brain is dead.

So I let 'im have another right through the top of his pig skull, which hit the ground with a thump and let go the PETA person. She was pretty well gone by then. Had to bring an ambulance and Ethan and Ned had to pack her out 'cause there weren't no roads where we was at.

They got her in a helo but she died on the way to the hospital.

Now there's a play about her. Clyda Rosewoman. In Hogzilla, they call her Deirdre Donderosa. I think she's played by Janeane Garofalo.

Later, we got a backhoe in there and strung that pig up and you can see me and thet hog on my Facebook page. Since then I have got a shit load of hate mail. People wantin' to sodomize me with a rhino horn and such. All on account I shot thet hog that 'et my sister.

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Mike Baron is the creator of Nexus and Badger, two of the longest-lived independent comic book superheroes. He woke up one day and found himself writing novels.

Review by AudieCockings
Jul 28 2014
1 of 1 liked this
Nothing like good BBQ...but not if the "hawg" just ate your 'lil s
You need to tell us who ate the hog in the end! Hopefully not Cody Lee! Addendum please?
Review by jnampion
Mar 30 2014
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Janeane Garofalo
Funnier than a pompous radical actress gettin' et by superhawg.

By cracky!
Review by kywrite
Mar 26 2014
1 of 1 liked this
Hogging the memes!
Well done! Authentic voices, realistickish characters, and lots of sneaky metaphor underneath a good story. I can't shake the idea that Hogzilla itself, in fact, is a metaphor for overgrown government. . .

I think my favorite touch was the rhino horn. Perfectly ironic!
Review by telrick
Feb 20 2014
1 of 1 liked this
You nailed every character in this piece brilliantly. Thoroughly enjoyed the hunt for that sister-eatin' murderin' hog. And about PETA, as my friends in West Virginia used to say, "If God wanted us to be vegetarians, why did he make animals out of meat?" Well, done, Mike.
Review by ErichForschler
Feb 9 2014
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Great Satire!
Those loathsome swine! This story made me laugh several times throughout, and I appreciate the overall theme of the work. It's a great satire of the disconnect between reality and hardline idealism. The prose is direct and active, making this an easy and entertaining read.