Hog

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Story about the loss of childhood innocence.

Submitted: March 24, 2008

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Submitted: March 24, 2008

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The Hog
He was a big hog, all rump and shoulders, a prize winner the year before. I had taken to calling him Monty after a character on a cartoon that I liked. My father often warned against the naming of livestock, never the horses, dogs or housecats but what he called the “product,” those animals destined to be spilled on the slaughterhouse floor, butchered and then sold. 
He simply referred to the animal as “Hog.”
“Hog is nothing but a jumble of flesh and nerve, made for one purpose” he would say, starting in on one of his rants. My mother and I would roll our eyes. “It’d gnaw your face off if it had the chance,” he would be sure to add. At that, we would laugh, maybe out of the absurdity of the claim or perhaps out of shear nervousness that it was true. 
At the time I thought it was the pig, or the image of it that my father’s words conjured up, that frightened me most—I thought it was the idea of being trapped under the girth of an animal unable to distinguish between slop and a human face; but I now realize that it wasn’t the animal’s capabilities that unsettled me, but my father’s belief in the primal nature of all things, in their ability to do evil just because they can.
I was only nine that Spring, but old enough to know the rudimentary details of what went on in the barn on the other side of the pond. I knew nothing of how, or of the blood that was involved, knew nothing of the brutality, I just knew that after that day Monty would not be coming back, at least not in his current form.
Monty must have gotten wise to it too, because he was putting up a fight against the five men trying to corral him into the trailer. Many animals before him had taken the short ride down the dirt road, a journey that passed by the chicken coop on the left, the sturdy oak with the tire swing on the right, curled around the pond and came to an end just before the barn doors, doors that my father made sure were always sealed tight, except to usher in a new arrival or again later on when it was finished and the men would come out carrying “product” needing to use the hose to get clean. 
I have often wondered since then, why it was they kept the doors closed even after the animal had been killed and therefore was no longer a threat to escape. I wonder who my father was trying to spare, whether it was my mother and I or the other animals on the farm.
 Two of the men had ropes around Monty’s neck, another two had hold of his hind quarters.  My father yelled for me to go inside the house. Monty was powerful and willful and would wriggle his body like a toddler who didn’t want to be held. When he bucked, the men on his hind were thrown, causing the rear to become unstable. The men up front would fall to their knees and heave at the rope desperately, as if they were dangling on the edge of a cliff, their lives on the other end. My father was swearing and barking directions, his face was pink and irritated, painfully contorting with every “God damned” and “Christ’s sake.” Seeing his words were of no use, he stomped off towards the supply shed. For a moment, it appeared as if Monty might break free, might shed the ropes and clinging men and run off into the woods. 
If I was aware of my father approaching from the direction of the shed, then it is not a detail I recall.It’s the sound that I remember hearing first, a sound that fell somewhere between a thud and a crack, a punch to the gut and a baseball bat to the skull. When it hit, everything came out of the hog. Its legs buckled, then splayed or became unnaturally twisted under the weight of its body. 
I forced myself to look away.
My father was standing over the hog, his face glistening, his shirt dotted with splatter, the sledge hammer still cocked in his hands, as if ready to strike again.  
I remember feeling wetness on my leg, then looking down and seeing my guts collecting on the tops of my shoes.
“Go inside the house,” my father said calmly.
I looked back at the hog, now nothing more than a jumble of flesh and nerves, quiet and numb, never going to eat again.


© Copyright 2017 JohnJArno. All rights reserved.

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