A Hog a Day Part 11


One of Daddy’s coworkers also indulged in the hunt. I loved hearing the stories they told.
Slim was a God-gifted liar, so well-known for his lying, that anyone who repeated one of his tales had to buy coffee for the group. One day, Slim came rushing by several of the fellows standing around at work and one of them called out, “Slim, stop and tell us a lie.”
“I ain’t got time.” He called over his shoulder. “Martin Bishop just fell in Smokestack 19 and I’m on the way to call an ambulance.” He rushed on as the other men took off in the opposite direction to check out the accident at Smokestack 19. They were breathless upon getting there and found Martin hard at work, totally unaware that he’d just been tragically killed. I guess they all had to buy their own coffee.
Slim and his wife, Ida Ruth, had a large family. Like many men of the time, his work was done once he left the job. One blazing August afternoon he came home to find a workman, a man of his acquaintance, digging a ditch that ran along the right of way in front of his place. The man was stripped down to his undershirt in the sweltering heat with sweat pouring off him. Slim stopped to talk and sent one of the kids for a glass of ice water. “Man, it’s too hot for you to be shoveling in this heat. Git on out of that ditch and let Ida Ruth finish it!” I don’t guess Ida Ruth heard about it, because there was no murder.
Mike Parsons had been raised in Arkansas and considered himself an authority on all things Arkansas. No one could mention Arkansas without getting an earful of his knowledge, experience, or connections. He must have had a hundred sisters, since he had a brother-in-law in every town. It was getting a little tiresome and Ray Marshall decided to set him up. “I’m going to come in to work tomorrow telling a wild tale about a town in Arkansas I made up. Y’all follow along and see what ol’ Mike has to say.”
The next morning at work when they stopped for coffee, Ray started his story, “Any of y’all ever heard of a little town up in the Arkansas called Catscratch? I was driving through there one time and………”
Mike Parsons jumped in. “Sure, I been there several times. My sister married an old boy from there. He raises them big pink tomaters just outside Catscratch. They got a real nice little place.”

A Hog a Day Part 10

Art by Kathleen Swain

Cousin Carol married a sorry guy.  He wasn’t crazy about working.  In fact, he was pretty much averse to it. He had better things to do, hunting, fishing, sleeping and making babies.  He and Carol had three babies in record time.   It worried Daddy’s brother terribly that Jerry didn’t provide for Carol and the kids.  As a favor to him, Daddy had Jerry meet him at the house one day after work.  “Come with me and we’ll go get you a hog so Carol can have something to cook for the kids.”  Jerry was all for free pork.  They went to the pen, got Jerry a nice-sized pig, and he was on his way.

A few days later, Daddy showed up to check hs traps mid-morning and surprised Jerry at his pen with a 22 rifle in his hands.  He’d just shot a pig and was getting ready to load it in his car.  Daddy was an imposing man, very six foot three.  He slapped Jerry to the ground.

Billy was Daddy’s shadow, making every step he made, whether it was hunting or socializing, which were often one in the same.  One evening, they were sitting with several of the guys on logs around a fire telling tales. Billy had worked hard to keep up with his new orange hunting cap all day, only too aware of how lucky he was to have it. It was late. He was tired. He’d nodded off a time or two, leaned up against a big log next to Daddy when he was startled to see Runt Rider, the crotchety owner of the fish camp wearing his cap. His hand flew to his head, finding it bare. Sure enough, Runt had his hat! The other fellows teased him routinely, but Runt was an old grump, who’d never even spoken to him. There were even stories that he’d stabbed a man!

He’d been set up. The guys were all waiting, watching for his reaction. The more he studied the situation, the more outraged he became. Finally, time for action. He bounded across, grabbed the cap off Runt’s head, and was rewarded by an explosion of laughter from all the guys around the fire. Runt was not happy at being laughed at. His face turned fiery red. He spit, sputtered, cursed, struggling to maintain control, clearly infuriated. Billy calmly put the hat on his head, walked to Daddy’s truck, and got in, feeling vindicated.

Daddy walked over to the truck. “Son, why in the world did you grab Mr. Runt’s hat off his head?”

“He had my hat. I had to get it back.”

“Look on the seat beside you.” Beside him on the seat, undeniably, lay his own hat. “I guess you’d better give Mr. Runt’s cap back. Billy took off the cap, returning it to Mr. Runt, with an apology. Mr. Runt was ungracious, but at least didn’t stab him.

Corwin and the Hog Dog

image imageAunt Essie, like all of my aunts, was a wonder of fertility, if not child-rearing acumen, raising seven of the meanest boys outside Alcatraz. Thank God, her reproductive equipment gave out before she managed more. I thought Mother exaggerated when she said they’d all end up in jail or dead before they were thirty. She was wrong. Only four of the seven did jail time, and of these, one died in a bar fight after he was released at the age of twenty-eight. Most of rest passed their time boozing it up at Aunt Essie’s house when they weren’t begetting children or needed in jail. Contrary to Mother’s unjust prediction, all but one made it past thirty and one never went to jail.  The meanest of the lot turned out to be pretty boring. He opened a very successful auto body shop and became a deacon.  I hope Mother learned her lesson about being judgmental.

When Aunt Essie’s boys weren’t trying to kill us, they could be entertaining. Uncle July was an avid hog-hunter and was extremely proud of his Catahoula Cur Hog Dog, Catch. Out on the hunt, Catch would le go berserk with hog lust and “catch” wild hogs by the ear, hanging on until commanded to turn loose; not a nice dog. Uncle July kept him penned up, sternly warning us away from the fence. Catch might rage through the fence, “catching” us by the ear.

Aunt Essie and Uncle July heard “catch” noises from the dog pen and were horrified to realize one of their angelic three-year-old twins was missing. They rushed out and found Corwin and the monster dog rolling around in the dog pen. Expecting to retrieve the bloody corpse of his precious child, Uncle July leapt into to the pen to find Corwin latched down on Catch’s ear, blood pouring from the tattered edges. When asked why he bit the dog, Kelvin replied, “Dog bite me.” Corwin was fine except for a few drag marks.

Considering his tender age, it seemed premature to categorize Corwin, but he showed all the hallmarks of a psychopath. Energized and empowered by his encounter with “Catch”, his strange little mind focused on the unfortunate beast, making his life a living hell. Despite his concerned parents’ warning, he was soon back in the dog pen and had Catch cowering in a barrel half-buried in the dirt that passed for a dog house, howling piteously for rescue. Realizing he was no threat to Corwin, Aunt Essie and Uncle July abandoned poor Catch to his misery, knowing Corwin was off their backs as long as poor Catch was crying. Catch wet himself and ran under the truck next time Uncle July tried to take him out hog hunting, his spirit broken. Uncle July swapped him off to an unsuspecting buddy for a pirogue the first chance he got.

Surviving five horrible older brothers made Corwin and his twin Kelvin dangerous little devils. Their parents doted on all the boys, seemingly unconcerned about their reputations as hellions. When people complained about their bullying, their stock reply was, “What did your Johnny do to them?” artfully ignoring the obvious fact that the damaged kid was three years younger. Aunt Essie grieved because the twins would be her last babies, so she let them carry their baby bottles till the school put a stop to it. It was bizarre to see them coming in from playing football with their brothers, pull their bottles out of their back pockets, and fill them for themselves. They were fluent in profanity from the time they could talk.

As an adult, between stints in jail, Corwin lived in the dugout of the local ballpark. He’d worn out his welcome with Aunt Essie and his tippling brothers after attempting to burn her house down over their heads. He was forcibly extricated by the more sober among them, but did live to the ripe old age of forty-one. After the immediate threat of roasting in her bed passed, Aunt frequently mentioned letting him move back in, feeling he’d learned his lesson in jail, but her other boys had a longer memory and wouldn’t allow him back in.

Corwin spent the rest of his life residing between the ballpark, jail, and homeless shelters, except for brief stints with friends when he was flush with cash from his drug sales job.

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The Mouth of the Beast

 

child-fist-pumpAunt Essie, like all of my aunts, was a wonder of fertility, if not child-rearing acumen.  She raised seven of the meanest boys outside Alcatraz.  Thank God, her reproductive equipment gave out before she managed more.  I thought Mother was exaggerated when she said they’d all end up in jail or dead before they were thirty.  She was wrong.  Only four of the seven did jail time, and of these, one died in a bar fight after he was released at the age of twenty-eight.  Most of rest passed their time boozing it up at Aunt Essie’s house when they weren’t begetting children or needed in jail.  Contrary to Mother’s unjust prediction, all made it past thirty.   The meanest of the lot turned out to be pretty boring.  He opened a very successful auto body shop and became a deacon.

When Aunt Essie’s boys weren’t trying to kill us, they could be entertaining.  Uncle July was an avid hog-hunter.   He was extremely proud of his Catahoula Cur Hog Dog, Catch.  Catch would go berserk with hog lust and “catch” wild hogs by the ear,  hanging on until commanded to turn loose; not a nice dog.  Uncle July kept him penned up, sternly warning us away from the fence.  Catch might rage through the fence, “catching” us by the ear.

Aunt Essie and Uncle July heard “catch” noises from the dog pen and were horrified to realize one of their angelic three-year-old twins was missing.  They rushed out and found Corwin and the monster dog rolling around in the dog pen.  Expecting to retrieve the bloody corpse of his precious child, Uncle July leapt into to the pen to find Corwin latched down on Catch’s ear, blood pouring from the tattered edges.  When asked why he bit the dog, Kelvin replied, “Dog bite me.”  Corwin was fine except for a few drag marks.

Considering his tender age, it seemed premature to categorize Corwin, but he showed all the hallmarks of a psychopath.  Energized and empowered by his encounter with “Catch”, his strange little mind focused on the unfortunate beast, making his life a living hell.  Despite his concerned parents’ warning, he was soon back in the dog pen with Catch cowering in the barrel half-buried in the dirt that passed for a dog house, howling piteously for rescue.  Realizing he was no threat to Corwin, Aunt Essie and Uncle July abandoned him to his misery, knowing Corwin was off their backs as long as poor Catch was crying.  Catch wet himself and ran under the truck next time Uncle July tried to take him out hog hunting. His spirit was broken.  Uncle July swapped him off to an unsuspecting buddy for a pirogue the first chance he got.

Surviving five horrible older brothers made Corwin and his twin Kelvin tough little devils.  Their parents doted on all the boys, seemingly unconcerned about their reputations as hellions.  When people complained about their bullying, their stock reply was, “What did your Johnny do to them?”  They artfully ignored the obvious fact that the damaged kid was three years younger.  Aunt Essie grieved because the twins would be her last babies, so she let them carry their baby bottles till the school put a stop to it.  It was bizarre to see them coming in from playing football with their brothers, pull their bottles out of their back pockets, and fill them for themselves.  They were fluent in profanity from the time they could talk.

As an adult, between stints in jail, Corwin lived in the dugout of the local ballpark.   He’d worn out his welcome with Aunt Essie and his tippling brothers after attempting to burn her house down over their heads.   He was forcibly extricated by the more sober among them, but did live to the ripe old age of forty-one.  After the immediate threat of roasting in her bed passed, Aunt frequently mentioned letting him move back in, feeling he’d learned his lesson in jail, but her other boys had a longer memory and wouldn’t allow it.