“This is about the pig,” I said.
Daniel nodded. “Terry Tenderloin.”
Daniel Sampson and I had just arrived at a Cape-Cod style farmhouse on the outskirts of Currie Valley. The off-yellow two-story home was on the smallish side, but had a large back yard surrounded by an American-Dream white picket fence. The aromas of a farm in full bloom filled the air – chemical spray, rotting vegetation, fresh-cut hay and animal excrement. It was early-October cool, but I could feel sweat clinging to my body.
“Nice place,” I said.
“Head around to the back.”
Daniel had picked me up outside of Taco Bell and asked me if I wanted to go for a ride. I politely said no and he politely showed me the pistol he had in his pocket.
“Mr. Walden has grown quite attached to Terry,” Daniel said as we walked.
Pigs make great pets. A normal Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pig can go for as much as a thousand dollars. I sold them for less than half that.
I turned to Daniel. “It’s good that Mr. Walden loves Terry, right? People are supposed to get attached to their pets.”
Daniel nudged me along. “It isn’t good. Terry Tenderloin was the cutest thing ever when Mr. Walden brought him home, but he kept growing and growing and growing. Now, rather than having a cute little pig, Mr. Walden has a full grown, three-hundred and twenty-eight pound hog.”
I tried giving him my most sympathetic face. “Your boss can’t blame me for that – pigs grow, they get bigger, baby pigs turn into adult pigs.”
“Terry should’ve reached maybe a hundred pounds. You know that.”
He was right.
When I learned about the money in Pot-Bellied Pigs, I decided to take advantage of the open market. I stole normal, newborn pigs from area farms and then sold them as Pot-Bellies at cut-rate prices. I only did it a few times, four-hundred dollars here and there to help tide me over. Jeremy Walden, Currie Valley’s reigning crime lord, was one of those times.
“Mr. Walden loves that pig,” Daniel said. “But living in a condo downtown, it’s crowded. And the neighbors don’t like it – him taking this hog up and down in the elevator every time Terry has to go outside to go for a walk, the smells, the noises. Luckily, Mr. Walden has money. He was able to buy this place.”
I looked around at the house, the land, the beautiful, little fence. “All of this is for a pig?”
“All of this is for a valued member of the family.”
We came to the back yard and there, in a patch of mud, stood Terry Tenderloin – Mr. Jeremy Walden’s pet pig. He had dirty pink skin with mottled black spots, a fair amount of shit on his underside and legs and enough blubber to feed an entire Knights of Columbus picnic. He was a no-doubt-about-it full-grown hog.
“Go over and say hi,” Daniel said. “And sorry about the stink, he hasn’t had his bath today.”
I walked over to Terry, trying to not get too much slime on my shoes. I cautiously scratched the swine between the ears, feeling his short, bristly hair. He seemed happy.
“Why did you bring me out here,” I asked as I stroked the pig.
“To make amends.”
“Great!” I said with relief. “Let’s make this right! What do you want me to do?”
For an answer Daniel took out his gun and shot me twice, once in each kneecap. Terry Tenderloin squealed and ran from the blasts. The pain was like lightning and fire and a thousand knives. I fell to the ground and tried to scream, but all that came out were sobbing, high-pitched moans.
“The cost of food for a full grown hog is astronomical,” Daniel said. “Mr. Walden came up with this idea to help alleviate that cost.”
One little scam and I’m pig groceries.
After a moment, Terry Tenderloin came back over to me, snuffling and grunting. He nudged me a couple of times with his snout, then tugged on the sleeve of my shirt.
And then dinner began.