Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Monster Hog (a chapter story from "The Cotton Belt")

((…of the Wallace Plantation) (August, 1964/and conclusion))

It was a bad summer, 1964, bad because the Wallace Plantation had buried, Charlie Codden, a relative of Abby Wallace, bad because she did not have the help she needed to take care of the place, Langdon Abernathy was told not to return to work for them anymore, it was all too much: first Burgundy, and the slaying of her child, and then the mysterious hanging of Old Whisky Charlie, and before that the deaths of Frank and Wally, although that was now a little over three years in the past since Wally had died. Even old Amos avoided the plantation as if it was plagued by God and Satan or both; Burgundy was still in the hospital in the Midwest, close to two years now. So, what next could happen, or go wrong, no one knew, and no one wanted to be acquainted with it, whatever it was going to be—meaning that plantation. The Ritt family, was making money off the land they bought, and although that did not worry Abby for the most part, she heard the ghosts—as she referred to them—talking at night how they hated Abby for selling the land to the Ritt Bank. Evidently, Wally and Frank hadn’t gotten over it yet, hadn’t gotten enough revenge, because he fought over who got to tie the hands of Whisky Charlie, and who got to swing the chandelier with Charlie hanging from it, that is what Abby told Amos anyhow, also mentioning in passing: “I don’t think the boys know they’ve died!”
But what was really on her mind, Abby’s mind, now was to sell the plantation, and so she had put it in the paper up for sale, and Frank, the mean one, the suggestive one, angry and more hateful than a horde of rattle snakes and more stubborn than a herd of mules, the more aggressive one of the two brothers, read the three line ad in the paper: “Lovely four acre plantation (or, hobby farm, because that was all that was left of it) outside of Fayetteville, for sale, any reasonable price.”Frank and Wally knew there was no other plantations for sale, this was it, Abby was selling their souls now, so the brothers grimly said.
It was a warm August evening, in the year 1964, the end of August, Abby heard the hogs squealing, fighting with one another, biting at their tails, at their feet, the big one, the one they called “Big Wally the Hog,” the nine-hundred pound hog, the one that won a Blue Ribbon at the County Fair, was becoming nasty to one of the smaller hogs, the very small one, the smallest of the lot in the enclosure—or pigpen—and took a nibble out of its leg, it was a week since Amos had came around to feed the hogs, and she was always scared to get too close to the hog pen herself, although it was fenced in, with four by four poles, and two by four cross beams, to make a sturdy fence. Actually there were several hogs in the pigpen, nearly all over 400-pounds except a few smaller ones, and that one little one that got a bite taken out of its leg that had been yelping to get fed, and instead became in part, part of the Blue Ribbon hog’s meal. Abby at this point was quite frustrated, hearing those hogs yelping like wild dogs night and day, endlessly yelping, and so she called up the Stanley House for Amos to come on over and feed them—nearly begging him this time, but Amos refused to work for her, his mind unchanged, it was out of sympathy he had came the few times he did after her brothers had died, because of her constant mumbling about her seeing and hearing the brothers walking about the house and yard—especially by that old car of theirs that they worked on for ten-years straight, it was all too creepy for him, all too much, way too much for Amos to take, so he refused to come for the last time—with a straight emphatic and final:
“NO!” Mr. Ritt, the owner of the bank who purchased the land from Abby, through Burgundy, and in earlier times bought land from Frank and Wally Wallace, stopped by to see Abby, he did now and then, a kind gesture if anything, he knew she liked company; he figured he’d say hello, and she’d offer him coffee as usual and he’d have a little break, and be on his way. But she didn’t answer the door when he came, and the hogs were going wild in the back area, where the pig enclosure was. And he went back to see what was going on.
The evening by itself was most pleasant with its starry sky and gibbous moon, overlooking the Wallace Plantation, had not the hogs been yelping, moreover giving it an uneasy kind of eerie touch within its atmosphere it would have been a perfect end to a long day.
As he, Mr. Ritt walked slowly back to the pigpen, it seemed as if everything was unattended, he even got a cramp in his stomach, a nervous cramp, as if something strange had taken place, or was taking place, you get such feelings when something is wrong, deadly wrong—death reeks, and your body does something like a turnabout, a knotting up of muscles to protect you, to guard you from heart attacks and strokes and all those impending doom related occurrences that take a person by surprise, it signals the brain, beware…! And it was doing just that.The hogs were fighting mad, squealing mad, jerking this and that way everywhichway, bumping everything, pulling with their teeth, bits and pieces of the wooden fence, gnawing on the thinner parts of the fence like rats, to free themselves: he got closer, they were limbs he was seeing, limbs his eyes scanned, indeed he confirmed they were limbs, red like roots hanging out of the limbs, muscles tissue, read knotted fleshly muscles hanging out like threads from a limp limb; hair hanging out of the pigs mouth—Big Wally’s mouth, and his associates, they were chewing Abby Wallace up, like pulp, as if she was in a wheat grinder, a saw mill, she evidently was trying to feed the hogs, fell in, or got pushed in, through the fence (because it would have been pretty hard to fall through those two-foot openings between the two wooden flat pieces of timber, one above the other, crossovers, and foolish to have gone to the top of the fence of the pen it would not have been necessary) and before she could get up, she was pined down by the monster hog—all nine-hundred pounds of pork. Her head was balled, they had ripped the hair out from its roots, and her torso was the main thing now the hogs were fighting over…. Her shawl lay over one of the fence two-by-fours wooden cross beams, and many of her bones—splintered—laid about, and the hogs licking the marrow out of them; everything was being caked with mud, as it surfaced here and there, as the livestock moved about, then sunk into the mud again, as if the hogs themselves were trying to hide the flesh from the other predators; Mr. Ritt had to turn about, look deep into the sky, hold his stomach, catch his breath and grab his heart, as it started to leap.

Note: Chapter 13; written in part: 6-2008; reedited, 10.-2009, and reedited 5-2010. And again in 2-2011 (“The Monster Hog,” is one of three chapters, to “The Wallace Plantation,” within the book, “The Unvanquished Plantations”).