Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thomas Paine Is Not A Big Pig

By Brain Wask

Hell’s Kitchen, New York City- I’m a big fan of bacon. So when I heard there was a four hundred pound wild pig running around the trailer parks of the Florida Panhandle I got on the first bus to Camden, NJ. There I met my friend Judas. He likes bacon more than I do–­ he knows exactly where to slice the pig– and his car has air-conditioning, which is a necessity in the Florida summer. But by the time we got to Manassas, Virginia the air broke and the pig became a local folk hero nick-named Liberty in honor of its escape from the government’s futile attempt to stifle freedom. So much for cutting the beast open. The pig became an outlaw scoundrel admired by a libertarian demographic bent on Facebook pages dedicated to the hog and its corn-loving antics. Good for him. Or her. Word has it the pig took four darts laced with tranquillizers. The drug’s effects were nil. The head of Animal Control compared Liberty’s escape to a teenager’s first tango with tequila: “He kinda staggered but got on up and off he went.” Again, good for him. Or her.

We reached Harmony, North Carolina. According to the local papers terrorists were hiding out in the Smoky Mountains. We got a room off the interstate and had well-done hamburgers at a roadside picnic table. The grill was on a trailer attached to a pickup. I had not yet told Judas about the pig’s new reputation. It was better he didn’t know. The man’s double chin was wet since Camden and no way would I be the one to tell him all that bacon wasn’t his. I’d leave it to a local. People there go missing all the time. I was getting my information from a telemarketer at Final Solutions, the debt consolidator. She called one night around dinner and we got to talking. She was from the Panhandle area and found the pig to be an inspiration: “Sort of like Sara Palin, but better.” I ordered more beer and excused myself to make a call on my cell. My source filled me in. Liberty was recently targeted by a gang of Joe 6-Packs. They chased him on quads through thick brush and mosquito marsh. No one got hurt and the pig escaped to roll around in the mud another day. Then she got into talking about her boyfriend and his Brad Pitt fetish so I told her the reception was bad and I’d check in around Nashville.

The night before was long. Despite Leadbelly blasting from the cassette player bouncing on the back seat I slept the whole way through Tennessee. When I woke up we were in Florida on Moss Hill Road passing through the town of Ditch Pond. Judas had an idea to stop in Green Log up ahead. Something told me he’d learned of the pig’s popularity. I worried this was it. When I asked what was in Green Log he mentioned a lake his Pappy used to take him to. Pappy? This all sounded bad so I opened the door and dropped to the dirt. He stopped but I was already in the trees running. I left my phone, my notebook, my toothbrush and my comb. I’d have to do without. I walked south.

That night I put my head on a rock and dreamed about swimming in bacon grease. It was slippery and not very pleasant, different from what I thought it would be like before the dream. In the morning I covered a million bug bites with cool, soothing mud. Somewhere deep in green outside Panama City I heard squeals from the brush and was confronted by the pig. There in all its pork glory. I clenched my knife between my teeth like a pirate. I could hear ‘Ventilator Blues’ in my head. When your spine is cracking and your hands they shake. Liberty had balls. Big ones hung down to the dirt. He stood up for everyone against every one. His stubby-haired mass was bigger than all the trees in eyeshot. Finally face to face. I tasted freedom. I smelled bacon. We weren’t alone. That fucking pig had Judas’s head in his mouth.