Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Growing up, spring was always welcome, but was a sign of dirty work to come.

Before the drifts could fully melt our father would come to us, tools in hand, and command us children put down our new things and follow him. 

With childlike zeal we would dig into the snow and pull out the naked bodies. In case anyone came by, we would store them under some brush until the ground was soft enough for digging. 

I never figured why father was so paranoid, if we had summer visitors we could just take care of them like the rest.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Free Lunch

Our meals were placed on the homemade wooden table by the wife as our host, right arm under the table and left hand slowly turning a beer bottle, continued to talk about his hogs.
We've learned that if you travel freely and want to eat, you have to listen to stories.
“Yes sir, hogging can be dangerous business. You turn your back once and bam! Everything can turn on you.”
“Have you ever been injured badly?” my partner asked as we unfolded our silverware from our napkins and started to dig in to the slabs of white meat laid before us.
“Oh yeah, had this mean old sow, just meaner than hell. Just up and almost bit my arm off. I mean, she had half my damn arm in her mouth! Teeth got down to the damn bone.”
I bit into a slice of my meal. It was more tender than a pork chop, but wasn't as tender as ham. My mouth was confused at the expectations of my mind. What else would a hog farmer serve wandering guests than a nice piece of their hardship?
Then I laughed inside to myself. If there was anything that my partner and I should have learned by now in our travels, it's to expect anything. Or as was most often the case, nothing.
“Damn,” my partner replied trying to pick up the speech of our host, a useful tactic to put them at ease. “Did it scar very bad?”
“Well, why don't you take a look for yourself?” The farmer replied and held up his mangled right arm. It was a brown mess of blood and clots from his fingertips to halfway to his elbow. Exposed muscle twitched against dried fluids of infection. All the skin had been removed, cleanly, expertly, by someone who had done it for a living their entire life.
Our host seemed to enjoy our disgusted silence.
“Of course we didn't have to take all the skin off, but if you look right there,” he smiled and pointed at my plate “you can see where the teeth went through the flesh.”
I looked down at my meat and saw there, neatly placed in the middle, three clean holes. I glanced at my partners and you could see that his piece had ragged and burnt ends like fingers.
“What?” the farmer asked, putting his arm back under the table and leaning back in his chair, the light from outside enveloping him “you fellers think you can just ravage your way through the countryside and no one will pass on word?”