I already feel tears in my eyes and a knot in my belly; this is my first time. I know there is not a hog in our barn rather a big fat ugly monster who eats children, bones and all. I know this because the boy I love, Billyray, told me so and my boy never lies.
Billyray says, "I used to have a little brother. You were too young to remember him. Wish I never had but I took my brother with me out there to slop that monster living in our barn. Don't know what I was thinking, suppose mostly I was afraid and wanting some company. My little brother and me open a big thick door inside our barn where that monster lives, walk in, both of us holding onto grandma's slop bucket. Damn monster hears us coming and hides in a dark corner next to her door so we can't see her when we open that door. My brother, bless his soul, is following me.
This monster from Hades jumps out of shadows and slams our door shut behind us then starts up this slobbery laughing real deep and low sounding, worse than a witch cackling and her breath is so bad, so smelly, she singes my eyebrows right off. I have never seen such a horrible sight, too frightful to tell you, probably would make you wet your overalls. This huge four legged monster, at least twenty hands tall and probably a thousand pounds, bigger than our mules, is standing there between the door and us, standing there laughing and looking right evil. Before I can grab my brother to pull him out of the way this monster charges faster than greased lightning, grabs my poor little brother by his head, just about swallows his head whole then runs off with him way over to a corner. I am not quick enough to get over there to pull my brother out of this monster's mouth. She bites down and I hear his skull crushing and crackling like a stepped on a hen's egg. Too late, he is a goner but I try anyhow.
I kick that monster hog right in her side. Might as well have kicked a tree stump, just about broke my big toe. About this time that damn monster takes a big gulping bite, swallows my brother clean up to his belly button. I commence to hollering and hitting at that hog but this ain't doing no good, she is tougher than a boulder over at our swimming hole. All of a sudden that monster swings her head back and forth and my brother's legs hit me like a falling tree, knocks me right through the air and clean over to the other side of our barn where I crash into a wall about ten feet up and down I go smashing into the ground. Leaves me a bit dazed, need to shake my head to clear my vision."
Billyray stops for moment, lays a palm on his head, sorrow shakes his head and mumbles something about God resting his brother's soul, then my cowboy continues his tale, "When I can see again there in that dark horrible room, I watch that monster take another gulp of my young brother, just his legs from his knees down are hanging out of that hog's huge mouth. I figure maybe I can grab his legs away from her so we will have something left of my brother to bury. About the time I get up and get my feet working to run over there, that hellish monster turns her head, opens her mouth like a big cave opening and all of my brother slides right on down her cavernous throat, ain't nothing left of him to bury."
Wringing my hands and worry looking at our barn I ask, "What did you do?" Billyray looks over a shoulder like someone might be coming, I guess he is worried monster hog is loose and sneaking up on us, "I reckon I lost my mind when my little brother slid down that monster's throat. I jump up and charge like a soldier across our barn with a mind to wrestle that hog down then choke her to death with my bare hands. I get half way cross our barn and that damn she-devil hog turns to me, lifts her chin drooling head, opens her mouth up big enough to swallow an elephant then blasts me with an army cannon belly belch strong as a tornado and smelling worse than a week dead rotting cow lying out under sunshine. Knocks me right down, sends me sliding backwards a good hundred yards."
I know I ain't ever going inside our barn, nope, ain't going in our barn, "Did that hog try to eat you, Billyray?"
He rubs at his chin, "No, ma'am, she didn't. That child eating hog sits back on her big fat butt, looks straight up and blasts out another belch so powerful planks up there on our barn roof take to rattling and a couple boards fly right off, then she looks at me and starts up her scary laughing. I figure I'm going to need grandpa's shotgun to kill that damn monster. He stops for a bit, brushes at my hair.
"I run into our house to fetch our shotgun but grandma catches me by an arm and asks, 'Where you going in such a hurry, boy?' I explain about the hog eating my little brother, tell her I'm going to shoot that hog for vengeance, she says, 'Billyray, you ain't killing no hog, ain't the right time of year for slaughtering hogs.' Grandma looks me over, 'Where's my slop bucket? Boy, you go out there and fetch my slop bucket, I've got a tub of potatoes to peel.' You know we ain't supposed to ever disobey grandma." Billyray looks out to our corn field, "Girl, I got work to do, I'll see you at supper and stay away from our barn." He up and walks away leaving me standing there by our corral scared half to death.
Grandma tells me to slop monster hog, I have to, can't never disobey grandma nor grandpa, but I am so frightened, love of my life told me to stay out of our barn. "Grandma, could Harlan slop the hog instead?" She looks at me, a small stern look, "Child, do as you're told, go on, slop the hog out there in our barn." My feet simply will not move, "But grandma he will up and eat me." Grandma stops her rinsing off a bucket of snap beans, "What are you talking about, girl?" I explain, "Billyray told me that hog up and ate his little brother when I was a baby." She smiles a small smile, "Billyray ain't got no little brother. Now go on, that hog ain't going to eat you."
Have to carry grandma's slop bucket with both hands, hog slop tends to be heavy with leftover cold mash potatoes, potato peelings, carrot tops, old vegetables, clabbered milk and such. Walking out to our barn where monster hog lives, walking slow as I can, I wonder what grandma means, "Billyray ain't got no little brother." Is this he never had a little brother or is this he no longer has a little brother because monster hog gobbled down his brother? Billyray would never lie to me, he is the love of my life.
Creeping along on quiet cat paws, I cross over our corral and stand next to one of our mules then decide this would be best to get under our mule and squat to look and listen for a bit. Staring at our barn from between this mule's front legs, looks dark and spooky in our barn, dreadful and silent like something horrible is about to happen. Stupid mule lowers her head, sniffs at my bucket of slop then takes to licking up monster hog food. I have to crawl out between our mule's legs, grab my slop bucket then tippy-toe run to the front of our barn near an edge of our big doors opening leading into monster hog's lair. "Grandma told me to slop this hog, I have to do this or grandpa will give me a butt switching for disobeying grandma." I get to debating which is worse, being eaten by monster hog or suffering one of grandpa's bare butt switchings.
Walking as silently as I can into our barn, a fat rat runs across my path and almost makes me wet my overalls. Then there is a flash of black, something furry, scares me so bad I cannot move. There is horrible screeching, some flying dust and bits of hay, something is rolling around and making awful noises. Finally I see our black tomcat stand up with a screeching rat in his mouth. He runs off and vanishes behind some wood boxes, runs off to eat this rat, "That's what monster hog is going to do me, grab me and eat me alive."
Takes some time, I get my feet working again. Standing before a rough wood plank door leading into this monster's den, I am frightened and fearful to open the door but I know I must because kids are never to disobey their elders. This door is old, creaky, spiked with rusty nails and grandpa attached a big spring to keep this door closed so this monster cannot escape.
"I don't want to go in there, she is standing there behind this door waiting for me, standing there licking her chops and drooling slobber from her chin. She is going to swallow me then belch like she did Billyray's little brother. I'm a goner."
Grab hold of a finger worn and smoothed wood handle then open this door a crack for peek inside. I look and look through my spy crack, no monster. Opening this old plank door lets out creaks and moans just like television scary shows. Still no monster. I step inside with my heavy slop bucket. Standing there motionless on old dry hay, grandpa's spring loaded door suddenly slams shut with a loud bang. Makes me start, almost jump, almost wet myself.
"If I hurry I can set down my slop bucket and run before the monster grabs me and eats me."
This banging of his door wakes up the monster who is off around a corner. This monster room is "L" shaped and my monster is off out of sight but not for long.
From around this corner in the monster's room comes snarls, growls, grunts, groans and slobbery sounding squealing. Dark in there, no windows, just knife blades of sunlight beams stabbing in through knotholes and cracks. From shadows, from around this corner, here comes a real monster who is streaked with moving shadows and slices of sunlight. She is huge, she is twice the size of our mules, has to be tall as a pine tree, I swear her back rubs on our barn roof knocking down dust, cobwebs and black widows.
Hog monster is gigantic, three times tall as me and weighs at least five-thousand pounds. Pinkish knotted scars on her fat body grin and grimace with passing shadows and sunlight. She has no ears rather huge dark holes on either side of her ugly head. No eyeballs, either. Instead of eyes she looks through black cavernous pits where her eyes should be. Worse of all, this hog does not have a snout nor lips. In place of a snout there is long oval shaped hole which drools snot and horrible stuff. Her grin is sardonic, no lips, big yellow teeth making for a snarling horrifying look. What remains of monster hog's face is covered with snot, boogers, slobber and slimy strings are drooling down from her misshapen and multilated chin.
I am so frightened I am frozen in place right atop monster hog's feeding slop spot, a bare spot in hay covered with slobber and old dry blood, probably blood from Billy's little brother. I am standing right where I am supposed to set the monster's slop bucket then leave.
Monster hog comes charging at me, grunting, growling and snarling then lets out a horrible slobbery squealing sound. Those cave like eye holes of hers begin glowing red like burning pieces of coal are down in there. I cannot move, all I can do is stand there holding my slop bucket, just stand there and watch monster hog coming for me, coming to eat me.
I piddle my overhauls. I feel pee running down insides of my thighs.
That monster headlong crashes into me, knocks me down, my bucket of slop spills and splashes all over me. This huge hog commences to eating me, starting with my belly. She is stepping on me, stomping on me, biting at me, licking and slobbering while making those terrible noises hogs make while slopping.
When this monster takes to biting at my face, takes to getting a bite on my head so she can swallow me whole, I suddenly snap out of my fright and start fighting back. I punch at that monster, darn if my fist doesn't jam right into one of her empty eye socket holes which is all wet and goobery inside. This makes her squeal and back up giving me a chance to make good my escape from being eaten alive by a twenty feet tall, ten-thousand pound monster hog.
I don't remember running from blind monster hog's room nor remember flying across our barnyard and corral, don't remember making our mules run in fright, but I do remember coming to a screaming stop in grandma's kitchen, remember crashing into her and throwing my arms around her for safety then starting up crying, squalling, balling and stomping my feet, "That monster tried to eat me! That monster tried to eat me!"
Grandma gets down on a knee, pushes me back a little, I'm still slobbering and sniffing from crying. She looks me over and there is that small smile of hers again, "Girl, you're covered with hog slop from head to toe and you smell like rotten milk. I done told you to never get between a hog and slop. You know better." This ain't right, she is supposed to be hugging me, patting my back and telling me everything is alright and I will never have to slop the monster again. Nope, she says, "Help me carry this bucket of warm water outside, we'll get you cleaned up."
She leads me out through our well house off her kitchen. Outside there is a clean pair of overalls, my overalls, laying there on our old wood bench we sometimes sit upon on Sunday afternoon to relax under our shade tree. Comes to me grandma somehow knew what was going to happen out there in monster's barn. She always knows stuff. She knows a lot of stuff, she is really smart.
"Taha, you take off your overalls so we can get you cleaned up." I can't wait to get this slop and monster hog slobber off me, slip my shoulder straps down and let my overalls slide down to my feet then toe hook and sling my wet smelly filthy overalls to one side. I am standing there naked as a jay bird when Billyray comes walking around a corner of our well house. He looks at me, looks at my overalls there on the ground, "What happen, girl, you fall in our slop trough? Is that clabbered milk in your hair?"
Grandma shushes him then pulls a wash rag out of our bucket of warm water, "You hush your mouth, boy, and make yourself useful. Pour some of this water over her, rinse her off. Save me some water to wash her." He is always mindful of grandma, always shows her respect, "Yes, ma'am, you tell me when to stop pouring." Billyray is big and strong, he is my hero. He easily picks up our bucket of warm water then slowly pours water on my head and on my shoulders until grandma waves a hand to stop. He sets down our bucket, grandma wets her wash cloth and wipes at my face and body, "Alright, son, pour the rest of the water over her." He is careful, takes his time, makes sure I am well rinsed off. He is my cowboy gentleman.
While he is rinsing me off grandma fetches a bath towel from under my clean overalls, tells Billyray, "You take my bucket back in there and leave it by my stove, then get back to work."
I am drying myself off, grandma is watching, Billy has her bucket in hand and is opening our well house screen door. He stops, makes a big grin at me, "I done told you to stay out of our barn, I told you what happened to my little brother." Grandma throws her wash rag at him, hits him right on his face, "and leave my rag in the sink. Now go on, get back to work, leave the poor girl alone. He says, "Yes, ma'am", gives me a funny glance then hurries into our well house.
Grandma takes my towel and hands me my clean overalls, "Pay no mind to that boy, he ain't never had a little brother, that blind hog ain't never ate anyone and she ain't going to eat you. Next time you set down her slop bucket on that bare spot there, step back, be quiet and you can watch her eat. She ain't going to hurt you. She is just a stupid, ugly blind hog."
I get my clean overalls on, am sliding my shoulders straps up, grandma asks, "Did you learn anything, girl?" I think, "Yes, ma'am, Billy is a liar. He told me a tall tale just to scare me."
Grandma laughs, "I reckon we're all liars, especially you and your tall tales!" She pokes my belly with a finger, "You learn anything else?" I can't think of anything to say, shake my head "yes" then shake my head "no". Grandma fidgets with my hair, pulls my hair behind my ears, "You need to learn to not just stand there when an animal gets after you. You need to run when needin' to run. Might be a forest panther next time." Grandma straightens my shoulder straps a little, squeezes my shoulders, smiles at me, "I love you, Taha. All of us would be heart broken if some animal gets you. What are you going to do next time something gets after you?" I don't need to think, tell her, "I'm going to run like crazy, grandma, just like you told me." She grins and pats my cheek, "Good, you remember to run, I couldn't do without you."
She looks over towards our barn then looks back to me, "I got a big tub full of potatoes in there waiting to be peeled. You go fetch my slop bucket then come back to our kitchen. We can sit, peel potatoes and swap lies." She stands then cuts through our well house back to her kitchen.
Standing there looking at our barn, knowing a monster hog is in there peeking through a knothole at me while drooling and considering eating me whole like Billyray's little brother, looking at our barn and thinking, I feel like I might wet my overalls again and this is my only other pair of clean overalls I have. If I wet these overalls I will have to wear them until Saturday wash day.