A pack of wild dogs get after a piglet somewhere, probably a little pig who ain't got sense enough to be afraid of a big bad wolf and there are plenty of wolves out there in life. Those dogs chase down then attack this hapless piglet, tear off her ears, rip out her eyeballs, chew off her lips, eat her nose off then bite big chunks of meat out of her face and leave her for dead. Grandma finds this mutilated baby pig lying and dying out in a storm culvert alongside our dusty dirt route way out front of our farm. Being of kind heart, grandma carries this pig back to our farm house and takes to tending to her, even makes a special pig pen for her out in a storage room in our barn; her piglet is blind, has to be kept locked up.
She is kind hearted but a demanding farm life has survival needs first before kindness and affairs of the heart. Grandma is not willing to simply allow this baby pig to lie there in a roadside ditch and die, nor is she willing to miss an opportunity at a free hog to later take to slaughter market for profit.
Within a few years, this tiny near death pig becomes a fat five-hundred pound Duroc hog, a very ugly hog who scares the living daylights out of all save for grandma, even grandpa won't go near her hog, "That monster hog came right straight up from the pits of Hell."
An older boy cousin suffers a chore of slopping this mutilated hog on a daily basis. Each day he goes out there to this dark spooky room in our barn with a slop bucket then comes running back almost crying, pale of face and telling me, "Taha, don't you ever go in the barn, a monster lives in there. She will grab you, break your bones then eat you whole while you're still alive!"
I turn seven or so, old enough to take on slopping hogs although I need to use both hands to carry a heavy slop bucket. This monster hog feeding boy becomes old enough to start plowing fields and is brow wiping relieved to not have to feed this monster living in our barn. I learn right off not to get between hogs and their slop trough, damn beasts will simply trample you half to death to get at their slop. I learn to stay outside their pig pen fence and dump their slop between fence rails but even this presents a risk of a big hog biting off a finger or two, if not some toes. Hogs will eat anything, especially young tender sweet tasting children.
This cowboy I love, my future husband, tells me a terrible story, "Girl, a number of years back, about the time you were born there in our bedroom, some city slicker folks come to visit, a momma and her boy, they don't know nothing about farms and catfish and hogs. She has, well, she had a son about your size. He runs off to play and explore, plenty of stuff and trouble around here for kids to get into. I worry about the boy, tell his momma to keep an eye on him because of those hundred pound catfish in the lake, warned her a catfish will jump out, suck up the boy's head then drag him down to the bottom to feed her little baby catfish. You know those Choctaw tales of children being taken by big catfish." He takes his cowboy hat off, says, "Poor boy." Then he is silent.
I bite like a catfish suckering for chicken guts bait on a hook, "Billyray, did a catfish get the boy?" He slips his hat back on, "No, ma'am, something more horrible happened to him." I have to know, "What happened to him?" I am becoming nervous, maybe a bit afraid.
My cowboy dead pan looks me, "Well, girl, you're young, I'm not sure I should tell you." I beg and plead, he is making me scared, "You have to tell me!" Billyray acts like he is considering, "Well, reckon I should tell you so we don't lose you like that city slicker boy." He begins his tale.
"An hour or so before sunset the boy's momma is out there calling to him. She walks over by the forest, calls to her boy. She walks across the route and hollers his name, "Robert! Bobby where are you?" Poor woman, she is about to cry, tells us she can't find her son. Grandpa grabs me and tells the momma, "We'll find your boy, don't you be worrying." We go outside, he says we will search along shoreline of Grassy Lake first to see if there are drag marks leading into the lake. We look around at all the clearings there at water line, ain't any signs of fighting or dragging. We talk for a bit, grandpa says, "Pig pen, let's go check around those hogs." He is quiet again.
Drives me crazy for my boy to just stand there and not say anything, "Did you find him, Billyray?" He lays a hand on my shoulder, "We did, the poor boy was mostly in the pig pen." My tummy tightens and flip-flops, "What do you mean mostly?" My boy lifts his hand off my shoulder then adjusts his cowboy hat, "We get over near the pig pen and grandpa points, 'Look there, a red baseball cap in the pen.' I tell Cecil that's the boy's cap. Grandpa shakes his head, 'Well, we know why that woman couldn't find her boy. Come on, we have to fetch his hat.' I follow along, grandpa grabs our pig poking stick leaning there against the fence, 'Son, I'll drive the hogs off, you fetch the boy's cap.' We walk through our gate there on side, those big fat hogs come charging and making all kinds of horrible hog noises, they think we have slop. Grandpa whacks a couple on their heads and pokes at others with the sharp end of his stick. Those hogs run to the far side of our pen down by the lake," Billy is quiet then adds, "What we found would horrify Lucifer himself." He doesn't say another word.
I'm anxious, afraid, I get up close to my cowboy, cling to his arm and look around for any loose hogs, "What did you find?" This time he pats my back, "Grandpa reaches down and picks out something from all that pig shit, piss and wallowing mud. He wipes off black slime from the thing on his overalls then holds it up, 'Billy, that there is a piece of a child's finger bone. Look around, there might be more of the boy.' We walk around and look, grandpa finds four more pieces of little bone, I find three. I suppose seven ain't that boy's lucky number. I give my bones to grandpa, we walk over to the hogs' watering trough, Cecil rinses those off best he can then we head for the house to give the momma her boy's hat and some bones to bury proper like."
I let go of his arm and get my arms around his waist and hold tight. I look around again, no hogs. Billy gives me a little squeeze, "Grandma says you are old enough to start slopping the hogs. Girl, don't you let one of those hogs grab you by a hand or a foot, they'll drag you right through the fence and into their pen. Those hogs will eat you starting with your fingers and toes, then your hands and feet, and they will work their way right up your arms and legs and won't give a damn if you are still alive and screaming."
That night, after supper and our bath, we are lying in our bed under warm cover of darkness swapping lies, poking and tickling and making each other giggle. Billy tells me to snuggle up and get some sleep. I love this when time for sleep, I can get right up against him without any complaint from my cowboy. This time I press my back against his chest, push my butt to his belly and hook a leg over his legs. He slides an arm around my waist and pulls me closer then whispers in my ear, "Good night, girl." I whisper back, "I love you and I'm going to marry you." He whispers, "Talk like that again and I'll make you sleep on the floor."
I don't remember falling asleep, never do anyhow. Maybe I was just dozing. I hear hog sounds, some snorting nose stuff and gobbling-slobbering sounds hogs make. Suddenly something grabs my hand and starts biting my fingers and I hear a hog going crazy like he is after slop. Scares me so bad I jerk my hand away then sit up and scream. Instantly my cowboy has a hand on my back and rubbing, "You're alright, girl, were you having a bad dream?" I try to talk but I can't, I'm so frightened my voice won't work. I desperately want to tell Billyray there is a hog in our bedroom and he tried to eat my hand. About all I can do is choke out some squeaky sounds. Before I can tell him about the hog, grandpa and grandma come running into our bedroom. Grandpa shines his flashlight on us and hollers, "What's wrong? Is there a panther in the house?"
Billyray pulls our bed sheet over us, we are naked, we always sleep naked, more comfortable on hot humid nights. He tells grandpa, "The girl here suffered a nightmare, she sat up and screamed. I'll comfort her and get her calmed down, she won't scream again," he pauses, "tonight." Grandpa and grandma go back to bed. Soon as I hear their bedroom door click-clack latch I roll over then slug my boy on his chest as hard as I can. He quietly laughs, I hit him again then whisper, "I ain't marrying you and I'm sleeping on the floor from now on."